If you dabbled with performance supplements, then you are likely no stranger to creatine monohydrate and its many incarnations. Even if you have never taken creatine before, you have likely read some literature about it. While I believe people should naturally be skeptical when it comes to supplements, creatine is one product that I do recommend due to the more than handful of studies available.
What Does Creatine Do?
For the gym rats out there, know that creatine does help build muscle. It does so by promoting cell volumization, which is accomplished by driving water into the muscle cells. In addition, creatine also enhances physical performance by aiding in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a chemical produced naturally in the skeletal muscles and is instrumental for the body during anaerobic activity.
How to Take Creatine
Creatine requires a loading phase for first-time users. The dosage is simple: take 5g four to five times for the first seven days. Afterwards, you can stick to a maintenance phase of 5g once a day. The loading phase should be repeated if you have been off creatine for four or more weeks.
Also keep in mind that you need to drink a lot of water for creatine to work. Remember, creatine promotes cell volumization by driving water into muscle cells. It can’t do that if there’s insufficient water in your body. I recommend drinking at least one gallon of water a day, which you should be doing anyways if you’re physically active.
Why I Recommend It
The good thing about creatine is that it’s relatively inexpensive compared to other supplements. A bulk bottle costs a little over $20 and contains 1,000g. That’s 200 servings per bottle. That is a pretty good bargain for a valuable product proven to increase performance.
A Note About Creatine Variations
When shopping for creatine, stick with regular creatine monohydrate and resist the temptation to try out some of the more expensive variations. The supplement industry has released different versions often touted as creatine 2.0 or creatine on steroids. Cell-Tech by the popular supplement company Muscle-Tech is a prime example of a hyped up creatine that costs five times as much. How is Cell-Tech better? It contains dextrose (a fancy word for sugar), which supposedly increases absorption. A single serving of Cell-Tech with 10g of creatine contains – get this – a whopping 75g of sugar! Even if it does work better, all that sugar is just plain unhealthy and will also make you fat.
Cell-Tech isn’t the only culprit. There are other creatine supplements purporting to have superior transport systems. Some of these include:
- Micronized creatine
- Conjugated creatine
- Tri-creatine malate
- Creatine ethyl ester
If you don’t mind experimenting and are willing to shell out the extra dollars, then by all means go for it. However, there are no independent studies I know of that verifies the efficiency of these creatine types.
Make It a Part of Your Supplement Stack
If you take other supplements like whey protein, then I recommend adding creatine monohydrate. Even better, you can simply supplement with Rebellion, which contains 3g of creatine monohydrate per serving along with a propriety blend of five other ingredients proven to increase energy and fire you up for your workout.