It’s the age old question on every ones lips and it’s the one question (in different guises) I hear asked virtually every week in the gym.
Are there any legal supplements suitable for Muscle Growth?
What is the number one (legal) supplement on the market today?
And…..is Creatine the answer to my gym performance prayers?
I am about to reveal to you the real facts about Creatine including how it is viewed by the bodybuilding fraternity, how you should use Creatine and is it safe for you to use?
Call me old fashioned but I have always worked on the principal that as long as you eat plenty of good quality clean food that forms the basis of a well-balanced diet you won’t need supplements.
However, Creatine is one of the most researched supplements in the market place today and has something like five hundred or more clinical studies published which are positive towards its consumption as a safe and effective performance enhancer.
The brilliance of creatine stems from the fact that it is one hundred percent natural and that it is found throughout a variety of foods we already consume on a daily basis like red meat and fish. The good news is that it is not banned from any kind of sports leagues or competitions. It is completely legal.
Some Important Facts about Creatine
First of all, creatine is formed through a natural process that occurs within our body. The purpose of creatine is ultimately to supply the needed energy required by muscles to carry out their objectives.
Once creatine is formed in the liver, pancreas and the kidneys, it is then carried out to the muscles through blood flow. Once it has completed this journey, it is then transformed into phosphocreatine or Creatine Phosphate; this is a principal metabolite needed to help recover the muscles’ ATP sources of energy.
Supplementing this process can help increase the muscle content of PCr as Creatine plays an important role in energy metabolism for quick and intense exercise.
How Creatine is Viewed in the Bodybuilding Industry
When looked at from a bodybuilding perspective, muscle mass can be greatly increased through the usage of creatine. This ends up enhancing the performance and improves exercises that involve high energy. It does this because it helps raise energy levels in total and improves recovery time.
Creatine’s ability to increase energy levels comes from it being able to synthesize protein in the muscle and then simultaneously decreasing the rate of protein breakdown.Because of this action, creatine ends up resulting in being able to hydrate muscles at a cellular level. This not only increases muscle growth, but it also contributes to adding size to muscle fibres.
How Should You Use Creatine?
My simple answer to this question is to follow the directions on the container but preferably in consultation with your doctor and personal trainer.
But briefly Creatine is generally taken as follows: The most common method of creatine supplementation is to rapid load the muscles with 15 to 20 grams per day spread over 3 or 4 doses daily. Do this for 5 days. After that period go onto a maintenance dosage of 3 grams per day.
It is also noted that taken with a carbohydrate rich meal or snack will help your response rate to the supplementation.
Is Creatine Safe to Use?
As mentioned earlier there have been hundreds of scientific studies worldwide and from this research results show that by elevating skeletal muscle creatine levels it improves training adaptions, promotes muscle growth and recovery time, improves endurance levels and some studies have also shown that it reduces fat.
If and when you are considering supplementing with creatine, it has consistently been shown to be effective. Taken as directed there have been no cases that can confirm creatine is unsafe to take.
As long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label, you should be free from any harmful side effects.
However, as with any drug or supplement, it is best to discuss the idea of taking a supplement with your doctor before making any changes to your health care regimen.
For the latest information on the Use of Creatine check out this valuable PDF resource from the Australian Institute of Sport.
Dr Gabe Mirkin has recently written this article on Creatine which is also a “must read” if you are serious about using this supplement for greater muscle growth.
Here are a few of the recommendations about Creatine made by Doctor Mirkin which I believe are well worth keeping in mind if you are considering using this product: “Creatine supplements will not help you grow larger or stronger muscles unless you also do heavy resistance exercises. Creatine can enlarge muscles without increasing strength by causing them to retain more water.
If you decide to take creatine supplements, make sure you have healthy kidneys and do not have heart disease, liver disease or diabetes, do not take NSAID pain medicines, and are not pregnant.
I believe that you should never exceed five grams per day of creatine supplements. Since you have no way to know what you are actually getting in creatine supplements, I think that the best sources of creatine are fish or chicken.”
And here is another excellent article you will be interested to read. It is titled Is Creatine Safe, and Does it Have Side Effects? and covers many of the myths surrounding the so-called side-effects of creatine including being the cause of digestive problems, weight gain and kidney and liver damage. You will also learn that after all the research has been considered, Creatine is one of the cheapest, safest and most effective sports performance supplements available.
Healthline, another resource I have high regard for, said in a recent article that “Creatine boosts exercise performance, helps you gain muscle and provides many health benefits (to young and old alike).
Creatine is also known to increase muscle fibre size, improves weight training performance, has been shown to reduce cognitive decline in older people, may also slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease and is also shown to help lower blood sugar levels.”
Hope this helps in your pursuit of greater muscle power.
Cheers – John – your Active Ageing Mentor and Coach.
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