Creatine is one of the most effective supplements in my opinion and should form part of everyone’s basic supplementation plan. Gone are the days where we believed in a “loading phase” followed by cycles of on and off creatine supplementation. Research confirms that there is no cycling needed, which means you can take creatine continuously just like you would most other supplements. However, like any other vitamin or supplement, I would still give it a break for a couple of weeks from time to time. This post will cover some of the benefits of creatine and tips on how to use it.
What are the benefits of Creatine
Creatine has the benefit of rapidly providing energy to the cells of the muscles during training. So when your muscles are low on immediate energy sources, creatine comes to the rescue and helps you push out the extra few repetitions. The result is that you push yourself a bit harder resulting in both strength and size gains. You could say that creatine is not necessarily making you stronger and bigger directly, but it rather indirectly through helping you train harder and more intensely.
Many people have a misconception that creatine creates water retention. This in not true and probably comes from the misunderstanding of another property of creatine. Creatine draws water into the cells of the muscles and makes them more full which promotes long term growth of the muscle. It also gives that slightly pumped look even when you’re not training. That is not the same as water retention.
How should I take it?
Take about 5 grams per day either in the morning with your breakfast, or take it 30 minutes before exercising, with your pre-workout snack/shake. You can mix it so that on non-training days you take it with breakfast and on training days you take it with your pre-workout snack.
My 4 principles regarding creatine supplementation
- Drink lots of water. This is applicable in general by the way. We need to always ensure adequate water intake every day. I believe that 2 to 3 liters of water per day is what everyone should be consuming, depending on your day or activity levels. Some days I may even exceed 3 liters if I’m involved in a lot of activity. Water intake is even more essential if you take creatine.
- Don’t take with Citrus. Citrus can degrade creatine due to the acidic nature of it. Don’t take your creatine with a glass of orange juice or grapefruit juice. The acidity in citrus juices has been shown to reduce the benefits of creatine.
- Sugar helps to absorb the creatine into the blood stream more effectively. The best juice to drink your creatine with, as far as I’m concerned, is natural grape juice. When choosing your grape juice, make sure there are no sugars added and no “natural flavors” added either.
- Only take creatine in pure powder form. Liquid creatines are unstable and tablet form is more expensive and probably slightly less easily absorbed. Furthermore, when you buy your creatine, make sure that creatine is the only ingredient listed. There should be nothing else. For example, if you want to take creatine monohydrate, then that should be listed as the only ingredient on the label.
Which creatine do I recommend?
I am a big fan of Universal’s Creapure ®. Creapure ® is creatine manufactured in Germany and is of high quality. It also supports more effective absorption. You can get it on Amazon by clicking on the image below. I would choose the 500g option. The link shows the 1,000g option but you can change that to 500g in the drop-down menu on the Amazon page. You can even set up a recurring order. The 500g one will last you about 3 months (100 servings), so a recurring order for every three months is a good approach.
Keep growing and stay healthy!