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Posted by: bosch | 2004/10/19

very interesting article on creatine

What is Creatine Monohydrate?

Creatine Monohydrate has become one of the most popular and most scientifically backed sports supplements of all time. The concrete evidence and real-world trials that have been done with creatine demonstrate that this powerful supplement is here to stay. Creatine is a compound that is naturally produced by our bodies to supply the necessary energy to our muscles. Creatine is produced by the liver and then taken to the muscle cells by the blood where it is converted to creatine phosphate. Our bodies usually produce about 2 grams of creatine per day. Creatine can also be found in certain foods like red meat and fish among others.

Why should I use Creatine?

As is the goal of many of today's top supplements, including HMB and L-Glutamine , creatine is used in an attempt to boost strength levels, enhance gains in muscle size and strength and prevent muscle tissue breakdown that can occur subsequent to strenuous exercise. By supplementing with creatine, an athlete can increase their muscle creatine levels and thereby produce more energy during short, intense bursts of activity, like weight training and sprinting. This is the key reason to creatine's popularity during the last few years. Athlete's are discovering that they can sprint faster, lift more and jump higher using creatine monohydrate. It truly is "the" sports supplement of today. In addition to giving athletes more strength for short durations of time, creatine also acts as a cell volumizer, similar to Glutamine. Cell volumizing is a process whereby water molecules are pulled into the muscle cell, helping them look "fuller" or more "pumped" and thereby creating the necessary conditions for muscle growth.

What research has been done on Creatine?

The amount of studies done on creatine monohydrate are to numerous to list here. Suffice it to say that creatine monohydrate is one of the most extensively studied and tested sports supplements ever! Most of the studies done point to the same thing: Creatine supplementation leads to increases in size, strength and performance. Most significantly of all, is that athletes who use creatine tend to gain large amounts of lean body mass, sometimes 10-15 lbs. (4.5 - 6.8kg), within one to two weeks of use! This is truly a miraculous supplement to be sure. Also, research has recently shown that combining Creatine with a high glycemic carbohydrate can increase creatine's effects and help get more creatine into the muscles where it is better utilized.

What doses of Creatine should be taken?

While there is no definitive guide on how much creatine should be taken, most experts agree that large amounts should be taken as a "loading phase" for the first week of supplementation when the body is most responsive. This creates phenomenal gains in muscle size, strength and performance in as little as one week! For this loading phase 5-10 grams taken daily should be sufficient. Then, once the muscles are saturated with creatine, a maintenance dose can be consumed. This should range from 2-3 grams a day.

What side effects are caused by Creatine?

As of yet, no known side effects have been reported from the use of Creatine Monohydrate. Some people contend that creatine causes muscle cramping. This has not been confirmed by any scientific studies to date. Creatine is a natural nutrient produced by our bodies and is believed to be safe. However, consuming to much Creatine Monohydrate without the sufficient intake of water can put the liver and kidneys under pressure. Ample (as much as you can take!) amounts of water should therefore be included in a diet containing Creatine Monohydrate.

Should I cycle Creatine?

There has been no evidence to suggest that cycling creatine can be advantageous. However, some athletes have experimented with various "schemes" of cycling to get the most benefits from creatine supplementation. These include a prolonged period using a maintenance dose, say 4-6 weeks, followed by another "loading phase", and a 4-6 week reduced dosage pattern followed by a loading phase. As is the case with all supplementation, better judgment is the key to success. Knowing your body and its limits is as crucial to proper supplementation as it is to proper training.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Bosch, and the readers who have read this 'advertisement'.

This is firstly not a site intended to advertise products, but since the ad is here, I will respond to a few of the claims and give as objective opinion as I can to each of the major claims in the advert.

Firstly, the statement to start with that "concrete evidence and real-world trials that have been done with creatine demonstrate that this powerful supplement is here to stay" is somewhat misleading. There have not been many very well controlled studies on creatine. In the early days of the supplement there was a sudden frantic rush to do testing and so many studies came out which in hindsight produced some questionable results. One of the flaws was that the creatine being tested often came from laboratories where steroids were also produced, and we know that this is a lot of contamination. Therefore, many of the studies concluding that creatine caused muscle growth may have in fact been showing that steroids cause muscle growth. That's the first problem. The second is that you always have to question the source. I am not saying that there are no good studies, but you will see two things: Firstly, the studies are not published in peer reviewed journals (magazines don't count, it must be a scientific journal, where the research is analysed and edited and then judged as being high quality). Secondly, many of the studies are funded by the companies who produce creatine. This is a major conflict of interest and it takes a brave scientist to find that a product does not work when the money is being supplied by the product. That means that a lot of the research on creatine is flawed.

Now, there have been some studies, which one has to assume are of a good quality that suggest it may work in some people. There is some evidence that there are 'responders' and 'non-responders', and so perhaps about 50% of people find that weight does go up when the supplement, 50% find no effect. The second thing is that it seems to affect only certain sports. The reason for this, as the article clearly suggests, is that the whole benefit is not the creatine, but the additional training you can do when taking it. So, someone taking creatine must train in order to benefit. If the person then trains very well, they should see some muscle growth. Now, the key question to ask is "if that same person trained well without creatine, would they also see some growth?" My suspicion is yes, but in some people (the responders) not quite as much. As for the sports, sprint swimmers, sprinters and weight lifters will probably benefit most.

NOw, for a few other statements regarding creatine. The first, that "creatine also acts as a cell volumizer, similar to Glutamine. Cell volumizing is a process whereby water molecules are pulled into the muscle cell, helping them look "fuller" or more "pumped" and thereby creating the necessary conditions for muscle growth" is quite misleading. There is absolutely no evidence that causing fluid retention in the muscle cell helps growth of the muscles. All it does is pump them up, until that fluid is lost (ie. to the bathroom over the hours), and so this is not a long term benefit and it most definitely is not a muscle gain.

This leads to the next statement that "Creatine supplementation leads to increases in size, strength and performance. Most significantly of all, is that athletes who use creatine tend to gain large amounts of lean body mass, sometimes 10-15 lbs. (4.5 - 6.8kg), within one to two weeks of use!". I have already addressed the studies that show this. Just to sum up: 1) only about 50% (or less) of people actually respond. 2) the training is absolutely vital to seeing improvements. 3) strength and performance only improve in certain sports activities, and 4) the increase in weight that is reported here is 80% to 90% water retention. Remember, creatine pulls water into the cells, and so when you take it, you retain water, and so your weight goes up.

Finally, to end off, here's a story from a few years back. Just after creatine gained popularity, all the rugby teams wanted to use it. One of the teams then decided that at half time they would stock up and go out for the 2nd half ready to perform, so, against the advice of the trainer (who knew better, because he was able to critically analyse the research on the topic), they all took creatine, and within 20 minutes of starting the 2nd half, more than 10 came down with cramps! Why? Water retention, perhaps, we don't know exactly, but cramping is one of the reported side effects. As for more serious side effects, things like kidney problems can't be ruled out, since the kidneys must handle all the body's broken down creatine (which is a waste and must be excreted). Finally, whenever you add to what the body is already producing, there's the question of whether the body stops producing its own stores. If this happens, then somewhere down the line, you must ask if the body is producing creatine like it should and what does this do later in life.

All in all, the jury is still out on creatine. It's not a new supplement, it's been around for a while now and it is widely used. But, it's not the miracle that this ad claims, and what we really need in the fitness industry is people who are responsible enough to look at the evidence and then say 'Do we need this product?" and what might it do, and not people looking to exploit people's desires for healthy living to make money in the supplement market.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Peeeee | 2004/10/20

Sounds like a load of sh|t to me!!

hee hee...

Reply to Peeeee
Posted by: bosch | 2004/10/20

I would like to apoligise for the posting that you call an "advertisement".Was not my intention to advertise anything,simply found this article on the internet and thought some people would find it interesting and appropriate.As for the creatine I have read quite a lot of articles on it and have started using it with great results and believeably in a safe manner, as prescribed.Thank you for your opinion though it is much appreciated and I will take it to heart.
kind regards

Reply to bosch

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