Taking creatine for muscle building
What is creatine
Creatine is an endogenous acid that is produced in the liver, kidneys and pancreas.
Creatine acts as a kind of "battery" in the muscle cells.
Creatine converts the low-energy ADP (Adenosine diphosphate) into the high-energy ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) that is required for muscle activity. In addition to the creatine produced in the body, it can also be produced synthetically and used as a supplement to build muscle.
Effects of creatine on muscle building
Because creatine recharges the muscle's "battery" over and over again, maximum strength can be maintained for longer. The athlete can train longer at a high level without the muscle becoming over-acidic or prematurely exhausted.
Therefore, the creatine has a supportive effect, especially with short, high-intensity loads. If taken correctly, more repetitions can be completed with a comparatively high weight (for example during strength training) than without additional administration of creatine.
One important point, however, is that ingesting creatine alone won't produce mountains of muscle. This requires consistent and targeted muscle-building training at a high level of performance. The necessary impulses for muscle growth are only set when the muscle is appropriately challenged and used.
The question of how good the effectiveness of creatine is from a scientific point of view has not yet been answered unanimously by all researchers!
While some studies admit only a small positive effect on muscle building, other sources speak of one of the most effective supplements, especially for strength athletes.In the USA in particular, extensive research has been carried out in this area, 70% of the studies show a significant improvement in muscle performance when taking creatine.
Find out more about this topic at: The effects of creatine
Test the effectiveness of creatine
Since creatine does not work equally well for every athlete, a test can show beforehand whether the organism reacts to this supplement at all:
- 4 times a day, 5g creatine is taken with 0.5-0.75l water
- a 5g dose each immediately after training
- if after a week with the same diet and weight training a weight gain of a maximum of 1.5 kg is achieved, the creatine has hit.
Read about it too How useful is creatine?
The creatine cure to build muscle
Creatine is a nutrient found primarily in meat and fish, but it can also be produced by the human body itself. It serves the body to generate energy and thus contributes a major part of the muscle work and thus of athletic performance.
Creatine is offered in the form of creatine monohydrate as a powder, tablets or capsules.
It is the best-selling and most widely used dietary supplement and is primarily used in the fitness and bodybuilding industries.
A cure consists of:
- Loading phase, which should last a week
- Maintenance phase over three to four weeks
- Cure break or weaning phase
Read more about this topic under creatine cure
Break between treatments
When carrying out a creatine cure as just presented, a cure break of six to eight weeks is recommended, during which the body can completely cleanse itself of creatine.
What should you watch out for in a creatine regimen?
When starting a creatine regimen, you should be aware that your diet should also be adjusted a little so that the regimen is a success.
Alcohol should be strictly avoided as it removes water from the body.
In addition, the fluid intake should be increased in order to counteract a higher water consumption triggered by the creatine intake.
An overdose of a dietary supplement is not recommended under any circumstances and therefore also applies to an overdose of creatine. If athletes ignore this note, health problems and side effects can occur.
The different intake (forms) of creatine
The best known is creatine (like most dietary supplements) in the form of powder.
This should be taken with plenty of water so that the creatine gets into the blood and thus into the muscles faster and does not sink in the intestine without any effect.
As a rule, the athlete quickly consumes approx. 5g creatine with 0.5-0.75l water or fruit juice.
The advantage of taking with fruit juice is that the insulin level rises and the supplement is channeled into the muscle cells even faster. The drink should always be consumed quickly, as dissolved creatine does not remain stable for long and can lose its effectiveness after a short time.
Creatine is now available not only as a powder, but also as chewable tablets, bars or ready-to-drink drinks, possibly mixed with other food supplements. Here too, you should drink plenty of water. Which form of creatine intake you ultimately choose is of secondary importance.
It is much more important that it is a high quality preparation.
Creatine is best taken after strength training, but not right after a meal. In this case, it would stay longer in the stomach and become less effective. Creatine can also be taken permanently in low doses.
It could even be said to have positive effects on the brain's ability to perform and concentrate. However, scientists recommend taking a break from the supplement after about six weeks so that the body's own production does not decrease.
More information can be found here: Taking creatine
In what form should you take creatine?
Creatine is available as a dietary supplement in powder and capsule form. Ultimately, the two forms of the preparation do not differ in terms of effectiveness. The only difference is that the shell of the capsule is only attached to the creatine tablets slowly dissolve in the stomach must and the level of creatine in the blood therefore rises more slowly and with a time delay. The creatine powder can be lighter and metabolized faster and therefore gets into the blood faster.
However, since a constant creatine level in the blood should be achieved by taking creatine, this difference is ultimately irrelevant. It depends on individual taste whether capsules or powder should be used. The taking of the large capsules can be difficult To swallow as difficult prove, the powder can be conveniently drunk dissolved in some fruit juice. The capsules are easier to use transport, which can be particularly pleasant in outdoor sports, but one advantage of the powder is, for example, that it is easier to dose individually. Plus there is often one too price difference, because creatine tablets are often twice to three times as expensive as the powder due to the more complex production.
You can find more information here: Creatine Capsules
The benefits of creatine for building muscle
By taking creatine, athletes hope to have positive effects on their training and their bodies.
Muscle strength and the formation of new muscle cells should be promoted. In addition, by storing water, creatine ensures a more voluminous appearance and a defined body. These positive properties are highly valued by athletes and, thanks to their comparatively low price, ensure a very good price-performance ratio.
Another advantage is the tastelessness of creatine, which makes it easy for anyone to take.
In the correct dosage and when properly produced, creatine is a suitable means for athletes to keep strength performance at a high level for longer and thus improve muscle building. However, it should only be used after a certain performance level has been reached in order to avoid "overtraining". In addition, special caution applies to adolescents who want to take creatine.
Creatine, however, is not absorbed equally well by every organism and is not equally effective in everyone. Taking creatine alone without specific training does not build muscle.
The benefits of creatine are summarized here again in five points:
- Rapid strength growth is encouraged
- The regeneration phase is shortened
- The efficiency is increased
- Creatine is easy to take
- Creatine has a relatively cheap retail price
The cons of creatine
Obvious disadvantages in creatine replenishment are the more or less strong bloating of the body.
Creatine is able to bind water, which leads to a plump but poorly defined appearance. Whether you perceive this as a disadvantage is in the eye of the respective beholder.
However, there is a tangible disadvantage with the processed forms of creatine offered as supplements. There is a risk here that a not inconsiderable part has been broken down into ineffective creatinine before it can be absorbed.
Creatinine is simply excreted in the urine as a functionless protein. It is therefore advisable to take the creatine in unprocessed form (mostly as a powder) directly with a glass of liquid in order to ensure sufficient fluid intake at the same time.
What is the recommended dose / daily dose?
When taking creatine, there are different views on the optimal daily dose and the dosage to start with. For a hobby athlete who trains 3 to 4 times a week intensively, a creatine intake of 2-3 g creatine per day to recommend.
According to recent studies, a higher dosage at the beginning is not necessary or useful, this so-called loading phase is not decisive for a long-term increase in performance through creatine. Nevertheless, athletes who, for example, have reached a performance plateau, can undergo a so-called creatine cure, during which up to 20 g creatine is consumed daily. After a week this amount is then reduced and in the next 8-11 weeks the creatine intake is reduced to 3-5 g creatine. The creatine can then be discontinued to see how much conduction has improved during exercise.
When should I take creatine (before, after, or during exercise)?
Taking creatine is uncomplicated because a constant level in the blood should be achieved with the long-term intake of small doses. So it is for the mode of action relatively unimportant at what time of day the creatine is ingested. In addition, the creatine does not work immediately after ingestion anyway, but with one Latency of up to a week.
On days when there is no exercise, the creatine can be taken in the morning before breakfast. On training days, it is best to take it after training together with a protein shake, if this is taken. Taking it during exercise makes less sense, as creatine cannot be absorbed and transported to the muscles that quickly anyway.
More information can be found here: Taking creatine
How Long Should You Take Creatine?
When substituting creatine, continuous intake is recommended, that is, one daily intake for several months from 2-3 g creatine per day. This does not mean a lifelong intake, usually a Period of 3 - 6 months recommended. After that, the creatine can be discontinued to assess the effect.
The creatine should make for an increase in performance during strength training in the anaerobic range of 10-15%, if the effect does not materialize, a substitution is no longer useful. In weight training, creatine can help to get above performance plateaus, but is generally not intended for years of continuous consumption.
Risks of taking creatine
There can be certain risks associated with taking creatine.
Before taking creatine, you should therefore seek advice from the pharmacy or your family doctor and clarify any risks. These risks can include pre-existing conditions, overdose, and poor diet.
A not inconsiderable risk that should be mentioned at this point is contamination of the preparations with anabolic steroids. Some manufacturers were able to detect contamination with anabolic steroids during the bottling process. This is due to the fact that the same machines used industrially were used for the bottling of creatine and anabolic steroids.
Can you drink alcohol while taking creatine?
Alcohol is generally not well tolerated by athletic performance.
Creatine ensures increased water consumption as a result of water being stored in the muscle cells.
Alcohol consumption after exercise, especially in a creatine regimen, is absolutely not recommended and damages the body during recovery. Above all, however, the effect of creatine is negatively affected, since alcohol removes the water from the body that the creatine stores in the muscle cells.
Dehydration caused by alcohol consumption in a creatine regimen can lead to risks and side effects and significantly reduce the athlete's performance level for some time. You should therefore urgently refrain from consuming alcohol.
Side effects of creatine
Side effects of creatine mainly occur in the so-called "loading phase". With this form of ingestion, one tries to “fill up” the body's creatine stores completely within five to seven days.
For this, very high doses of up to 20g are administered per day. In the meantime, however, experts recommend long-term use with smaller amounts (daily maximum 5g per day). When the creatine stores are charged, lower doses of 2g per day are sufficient.
The main side effects of creatine are muscle cramps and water retention (and thus weight gain). The cramps can usually be relieved with magnesium.
Although creatine is a well controlled supplement, it can cause side effects if used incorrectly.
These include side effects like bad breath, gas, vomiting, nausea, muscle cramps, water retention and diarrhea.
These side effects are triggered either by insufficient fluid intake or by excessively high doses of creatine.
Only when the body has fully recovered can the creatine cure be started all over again.
One risk that every athlete can control himself relates to the quality and purity of creatine. Before buying, the athlete should inquire whether the selected preparation appears on the "Cologne List" or on "Informed-Sport". If this is the case, contamination by undesirable substances is excluded and the creatine preparation can be taken without hesitation.
More on this: Side effects of creatine
Pimples as a side effect of creatine
To what extent the intake of creatine influences the formation of pimples and acne has long been hotly debated.
Today it is known that people suffering from acne suffer from an acne gene. This gene reacts to food, which means that certain foods and supplements can trigger and worsen acne.
Healthy people do not have this acne gene and can therefore not get acne caused by taking creatine. This form of acne, which can be triggered by creatine, is particularly common in allergy sufferers.
Who is creatine for?
If you have just started muscle building training, you should not take creatine yet.
The reason is simple:
the effect of creatine increases the training intensity; Muscles, tendons and the cardiovascular system are not yet adjusted to such high loads - this can lead to "overtraining" with damage to health.
In addition, progress is made quickly at the beginning of strength training, so creatine is more suitable for athletes who have almost reached their maximum performance and want to expand it.
Which sports is creatine suitable for?
Classically, creatine is used in weight training (e.g. bodybuilding, weight lifting). This is due to its ability to improve muscle growth and strength during training, especially in repetitive units.
In addition, it is now also used in conventional fitness training, martial arts (e.g. Boxing, karate) and some ball sports (e.g. volleyball, tennis, soccer).
The administration of creatine in endurance sports (e.g. Marathon running, cycling, rowing). While some scientists see no positive effect on these sports (since the ATP cycle does not play such a large role in endurance sports), others say that performance is improved here too.
Creatine is not only suitable for high-performance athletes, but also for amateur athletes who want to reach a higher level. Of course, it is essential to ensure that the creatine preparation is of high quality.
Legality of creatine in professional sport
Due to its performance-enhancing effect, there is some ethical discussion among experts as to whether the intake of creatine is reprehensible or should be seen as a simple dietary supplement for strength athletes. Some see it as an entry point for stronger, illegal substances for muscle building.
Especially in low-quality preparations, the creatine is partly mixed with anabolic steroids.
Even if opinions differ, creatine is not on the doping list of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is therefore a legal means of optimizing muscle growth. There are also no sports associations that ban creatine or view it as a doping agent. However, some organizations, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), do not allow athletes to provide creatine or similar supplements. In this case, the members have to take care of themselves.
A ban would also be difficult to comply with, since creatine is contained in foods such as fish and meat in addition to the body's own production and there is no permissible test for detection.
The different manufacturers of creatine
From a legal point of view, there are no precise guidelines for the manufacture and sale of creatine, as it is only considered a "dietary supplement" and not a drug.
Accordingly, one finds on the market (especially on dubious websites) a multitude of preparations that are inexpensive but contain hardly any effective or even contaminated creatine. The low prices are mostly due to the fact that the synthetically produced creatine has not been cleaned out carefully enough and thus residues of substances hazardous to health may be contained.
There are three creatine production companies in China, one in Germany. From there the supplement is forwarded to intermediaries and distributors. Chemists recommend only buying products with the label “Made in Germany”, because these are usually extremely pure.
In addition, when buying creatine, you should make sure that no anabolic steroids have been added. Here, too, the price can sometimes be decisive: if the production is inexpensive, the filling systems are often not properly cleaned, which means that residues from previous agents can get into the packaging.
The Sport University Cologne has put together a list of harmless preparations made from creatine and other food supplements.
What should I consider when buying creatine supplements?
Creatine is produced synthetically and, as a dietary supplement, is subject to fewer guidelines than drugs, for example. It is therefore important to ensure that the creatine product is 100% pure, i.e. does not contain any contamination from other substances. With creatine, it is therefore particularly worth paying attention to the origin of the product the products manufactured in Germany are subject to higher standards as products that come from China or from other countries overseas, for example.
These can be contaminated with harmful chemicals or even anabolic steroids, i.e. hormones, which represents a considerable risk, especially for competitive athletes, as these can be discovered in doping tests. So it is advisable not to pay attention to a low price, but to a trustworthy manufacturer, ideally from Germany.
The decision whether to buy the creatine in powder form or as tablets depends on the individual taste and has no influence on the quality of the product. Many manufacturers offer both variants in their range.
Review of - does it make sense to take creatine to build muscle?
The difference between creatine and most other sports supplements is that creatine does not directly increase muscle protein, as is the case e.g. is the case with protein shakes or amino acid supplements. Rather, creatine ensures a longer and stronger resilience of the muscles by being responsible for the rapid supply of energy in the body; so it has an indirect influence on muscle growth.
In addition, it should be said that the study situation on the benefits of creatine is very opaque and ambiguous. While medically colored studies doubt the benefits of creatine, studies focused on weight training propagate a clear benefit of creatine in building muscle. The truth will likely be somewhere in between.
Since no long-term damage from creatine consumption is known to date and creatine can be purchased at a rather cheap price compared to other food supplements, Dr. At this point, Gumpert makes a limited recommendation. However, everyone has to decide for themselves whether one is willing to spend the necessary money for an effect that cannot be clearly demonstrated from a medical point of view.
Creatine in children and adolescents
Many are experts and opponents of creatine strictly against the use of the dietary supplement in children and adolescents.
On the other hand, no study has so far been able to prove a harmful effect on young people. In the past there have even been positive results when used in the Paediatrics. Creatine, for example, was given to children with deficits in the body's own creatine production or muscular disorders (e.g. Duchenne muscular dystrophy) administered.
However, since special care and caution is always required with the sensitive growing organisms, creatine should only be used to build muscle in the following cases:
- after puberty
- only with serious, competitive training
- in addition, a balanced, sporting load and the Muscle building adapted diet
- the athlete and his parents should be aware of possible risks
- Parental consent
- Supervision and control by parents, trainers or sports medicine specialists
- use only quality products
- Note the maximum recommended dose.
If these eight points are observed, nothing stands in the way of using creatine to build muscle for young athletes.