A little too impatient and want to jump on the supplement train?
Well, creatine and protein powder should be at the top of the list of products to fuck with.
A naturally occurring amino acid, creatine is found in almost every animal-based product, from red meat, to chicken, to milk. It’s also produced in the human body by the liver, kidneys and pancreas. While found in food and in the body, the amounts are too low to be worth a damn…unless your animal-hating ass has the time and money to eat 2-3 pounds of meat per day just to equal a serving of creatine from a tub.
Now, why is creatine a big deal and why should you make it a part of whatever you’re doing?
Why take creatine?!
WHY TAKE CREATINE?!?!
Ummmmm, because of the shitload of supplements on the market, creatine is one of the few that lives up to its billing.
<arms crossed>That’s why!</arms crossed>
I. Counting Bennies
Creatine is a performance enhancer, and one of the ways that it exerts its influence is via the giving of energy, just like another white powder.
Skipping all the nerdy minutia that won’t interest you because you’re not a nerd, creatine works by acting on what’s called the ATP pathway. ATP is adenosine triphosphate, the primary source of energy for muscle contractions. The amount of ATP contained within each muscle is limited, so more needs to be produced when it’s gone. This is where creatine comes in.
What creatine does is donate a phosphate molecule to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), resulting in the creation of ATP when the muscle cells deplete their stores. The end result of this donation is the body having more speed, strength and power than it normally would to perform an activity for a short duration of time.
Need an illustration?
Well, you know how in movies when someone in danger miraculously gets a signal but the phone craps out when they’re about to tell the person on the other end their location or what’s going on? Yup, that beaten to death cinematic trope! Anyway, creatine is the battery charger that provides the juice for those much needed extra seconds of phone service.
Another benefit of creatine apart from endurance is muscle growth. As we see, creatine extends sets by allowing the body to produce more energy, which results in the ability to perform 1 or 2 more reps, which results in more micro-trauma. Over time from session to session, this adds up to increased strength and muscle size.
Additionally, creatine directly influences muscle size by causing cellular volumization, or the raising of the water content in the muscle cells, something that leads to a cascade of events prompting muscle growth — e.g. myostatin levels decreasing, boosted levels of the anabolic hormone IGF-1, less protein degradation.
As the most studied supplement, everyone agrees on creatine’s effectiveness.
What’s left for debate is whether or not creatine needs to be loaded and cycled.
II. What A Load!
The original protocol still advocated by many calls for a loading phase of 20 grams of creatine for a week, followed by a three-week maintenance phase of 5 grams daily, and then a week or two without any creatine to flush it out of your system before repeating the cycle again at the loading phase.
The reasoning behind loading is that you can saturate the muscle cells with creatine faster, enabling you to reap its benefits much sooner.
But numerous studies have shown that the difference between loading and taking small doses to reach the saturation point isn’t great enough to be of any significance. Additionally, research suggests that it’s unnecessary to cycle on and off creatine because it’s not toxic to the heart, liver, or kidneys.
If loading and cycling are unnecessary, then why on earth would so many supplement companies recommend loading and cycling on their creatine labels?
Well, just follow the money.
If you’re like most Americans, you hate math. I don’t blame you. It’s pretty useless. Outside of grade school and some college, I can confidently type on my computer that I can’t remember the last time it had any bearing at all on my life.
Nope, not once can I think of how math comes into play in my everyday life as I type…on…this…computer!
But put your justifiable hatred aside, like you do every Thanksgiving as the family gets together for its annual attempt to bury the hatchet and not be dysfunctional.
With that said, let’s do some arithmeticking!!!
If you load up with 20g of creatine for 5-7 days, as is the most recommended loading phase, that’s about 100-140g of creatine gone in just about a week before switching to the maintenance phase dosage of 5g daily for 3-4 weeks. Taking the low end of initial creatine consumption into consideration (100g), that comes out to a total of about 205-240g of creatine ingested in those 4-5 weeks of loading and maintenance.
Compare that to NOT loading and just taking 5g of creatine right out the gate, which comes out to 25-35g of creatine over the initial 5-7 days. Were we to do the math over another 3-4 weeks, that would come out to 100-125g of total creatine ingested (this is also taking the low end into consideration).
Moreover, if you believe in cycling creatine and then combine that with the belief in loading, you would then have to load another 100-140g of creatine before going back to the maintenance dosage in order to re-saturate the muscle cells.
As we should be able to see, loading and cycling are nothing more than what any smart marketer would want you to do in order to deplete your creatine stock faster and buy more product.
It’s a conspiracy!!!
III. White Power
People say white power has no place in this world, but that’s why you don’t listen to people…because people are stupid!
As we’ve found out, creatine is one of the few supplements backed by a wealth of science to support its claim as an ergonomic aid that indirectly helps increase strength and build muscle.
For this reason, you can’t go wrong with creatine supplementation.
On second thought, actually, you can!
Cycling on and off creatine is clearly a scam.
But hey, if you’re independently wealthy, load creatine. On top of that, use any kind of creatine you want!
Yup, creatine ethyl-ester. Di-creatine malate. Tri-creatine malate. Creatine alpha-ketoglutarate. Creatine citrate. Creatine pyruvate (or creatine 2-oxopropanoate). Micronized creatine. Effervescent creatine. Buffered creatine. Liquid creatine. Conjugated creatine.
ANY CREATINE YOU WANT, sugar bear!
Sure, they do less than creatine monohydrate, but they’re fancier and more expensive and you have money to blow.
However, if you’re financially responsible with your money, just take 5 grams of creatine monohydrate daily with plenty of water (at least 64 oz) throughout the day until you feel like discontinuing supplementation.