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HOW TO GET STRONGER WITH CREATINE
HOW TO USE THIS PERFORMANCE ENHANCING ORGANIC AID
Creatine is one of, if not the most researched ergogenic aid on the market today, and is arguably one of only a select few that is proven to enhance performance. As a result of its well-documented performance enhancing effects, you have more than likely heard of or come across this substance, commonly found in powder or pill form. But are you using it correctly and for the right reason?
First of all let’s quickly establish what exactly creatine is. It’s an organic acid produced to help supply energy to cells in the body, and more specifically, and what we’re interested in, to muscle cells.
Stored in skeletal muscle, creatine turns into creatine phosphate, which in turn is used to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the primary energy source used for muscular contractions, and hence is of great importance to anyone participating in exercise or sport. Since it’s the primary energy source, it’s also the first to deplete during high intensity exercise or movements, and thus by increasing our basal creatine store levels, our energy output is enhanced. This is where creatine supplementation comes into play.
Research has shown that with supplementation, creatine can induce increases in strength, speed and power, fantastic for athletes and gym enthusiasts, and hence it’s huge popularity. This is all great to hear, but should you be dabbling in the creatine craze, and if so, how and when should you be using this 100% safe and legal gym rat gear?
Ok so let’s put this into practice. There are several supplementation protocols out there, but the one that I’d recommend and that has multiple papers to show its worth, is the following:
Loading Phase: Load on creatine for five days at a high level – 20-30g per day (i.e. 4x 5-7.5g servings). If you’d like to be specific, use the formula: Body mass (kg) x 0.3 = grams of creatine monohydrate to ingest (split into 4 servings).
Maintenance Phase: Maintain the supraphysiological concentration with 5g of creatine daily thereafter for 4-6 weeks. Towards the end of the maintenance phase your basal creatine levels will sink back to a ‘normal’ level, towards that of what they were pre-loading phase.
In terms of timing, during the loading phase you should take with meals (carbohydrate has been shown to enhance the absorption of creatine into the cell), evenly spread throughout the day. And on training days, always take one of the servings post-workout (commonly within a protein shake), as this is the window when your body is most receptive to ingested nutrients and uptake is enhanced. During the maintenance phase also take post-workout, and on non-training days, at any time during the day with a meal.
So there you have it; Creatine is a hugely popular supplement that features in many athletes, bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts’ dietary protocol. Most commonly used when trying to increase strength or size, it also has its place when trying to lose unwanted body fat and retain strength and lean muscle mass. Available in its purest form, Creapure®, at 99.99% purity, or alternatively there are scientific research driven creatine formulas with added uptake agents to further improve delivery and performance of the creatine monohydrate itself. So, now it’s just time for you to try it for yourself. Train hard. Eat wise. Get stronger.
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