Creatine is catered mostly towards increasing the rate of muscle growth and power output with somewhat lesser but present benefits on skeletal muscle endurance. Basically, it lets you lift a bit more. Beyond this, creatine supplementation also appears to have neuroprotective properties and may act as a cognitive enhancer (for vegetarians) or antidepressant (currently only shown in females)..
“love that term cognitive enhancer!! haha”
How does it work?
Creatine is involved in a system known as the creatine phosphate system, where creatine and creatine phosphate interchangeably donate or accept a phosphate group. This phosphate group can readily replenish other molecules that lose theirs and need a replacement, and the most notable and relevant example of this is replenishing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) from ADP (adenosine diphosphate). ATP is the main ‘energy currency’ of a cell. Creatine lets you replenish ATP directly without needing to go through a lengthy process of breaking down other molecules into it.
Creatine supplementation merely increases the pool of creatine in a cell, and allows for a greater total phosphate donation to occur, resulting in more ATP replenishment.
Is it safe?
At this point in time, there are no clinically relevant side effects known to be caused by creatine supplementation.
How much should I take?
Creatine, for a nonathletic or slightly athletic person, is only required in a dosage of 2-5g. No you do NOT have to a loading phase. And because creatine is not a stimulant it does not really matter when you take it. Although I have always found it easiest to just put it in my pre or post workout shake.
Will creatine cause me to bloat?
Although creatine will not make you ‘bloat’ in an adverse sense, it does indeed increase water weight. This water weight is mostly localized to skeletal muscle, as water weight with creatine supplementation is gained wherever creatine is stored on the body. Due to this, it is more likely that creatine will cause a visual ‘inflation’ of the muscles rather than causing one to look softer and fatter.
What’s the best form of creatine?
Creatine does not really have a ‘best form’, creatine monohydrate is as effective as any other version. Creatine HCl or creatine nitrate may be more water soluble, they are not demonstrated to actually be more effective at building muscle. Creatine monohydrate, usually ‘micronized’ (helps with water solubility).
Cycling Creatine usage
There seems to be no real evidence to suggest that creatine requires any cycling.
Additionally, since creatine helps draw water into skeletal muscle it would suggest that there is no need to cycle off of it pre contest either… “having just said that, conventional practice for our fitness contestants is to take creatine out of their supplement regime a month or so out…. maybe this year would be a good one to give this a try?”