What Is Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine is a metabolite produced in the body composed of three amino acids: l-methionine, l-arginine and l-glycine. Approximately 95% of the concentration is found in skeletal muscle in two forms: creatine phosphate and free chemically unbound creatine. The remaining 5% of the creatine stored in the body is found in the brain, heart and testes. The body of a sedentary person metabolizes and average of 2 grams of creatine a day. Bodybuilders due to their high intensity training metabolize higher amounts than that.
Creatine is generally found in red meats and to some extent in certain types of fish. However it would be hard to get the amount of creatine necessary for performance enhancement as even though 2.2lbs of red meat or tuna contain approximately between 4 to 5 grams of creatine, the compound is destroyed with cooking. Therefore, the best way to get creatine is by taking it in powder form
How does it work?
While there is still much debate as to how creatine exerts its performance enhancing benefits and increases lean muscle mass, it is commonly accepted by now that most of its effects are due to two mechanisms:
Basically, once the creatine is stored inside the muscle cell, it attracts the water surrounding such cell thereby enlarging it. This super hydrated state of the cell causes nice side effects such as the increase of strength and it also gives the appearance of a fuller muscle. Some studies suggest that a super hydrated cell may also trigger protein synthesis and minimize catabolism.
In addition, creatine provides for faster recovery in between sets and increased tolerance to high volume work. The way it does this is by enhancing the body’s ability to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the compound that your muscles use for fuel whenever they contract. ATP provides its energy by releasing one of its phosphate molecules (it has three phosphate molecules). After the release of such molecule, ATP becomes ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate) as it now only has two molecules. The problem is that after 10 seconds of contraction time the ATP fuel extinguishes and in order to support further muscle contraction glycolisis (glycogen burning) has to kick in. That is fine and well except for the fact that as a byproduct of that mechanism lactic acid is produced. Lactic acid is what causes the burning sensation at the end of the set. When too much lactic acid is produced, your muscle contractions stop, thereby forcing you to stop the set. However, by taking creatine, you can extend the 10 second limit of your ATP system as creatine provides ADP the phosphate molecule that it is missing (recall that creatine is stored in the muscle as creatine phosphate). By upgrading your body’s ability of regenerating ATP, you can exercise longer and harder as you will minimize your lactic acid production and you will be able to take your sets to the next level and reduce fatigue levels. More volume, strength and recovery equals more muscle
What is the recommended dosage for Creatine Monohydrate?
The typical dosage for pure creatine monohydrate is approximately 10-30 grams/day for a normal man. But there are many creatine products coming in the market nowadays. So, your creatine dosage depends on the type of creatine monohydrate supplement you are taking. It is always recommended to take the dosage as recommended on the product label. You must also read the directions to take creatine as written on the bottle.
Creatine Dosage Instructions
Your creatine dosage should be divided into 3 phases namely loading phase, maintenance phase and wash out phase.
Loading Phase: Most of the manufacture’s and health practitioners recommend a loading dose till at least 5 days before you start to take creatine so that your muscles completely saturate with creatine. This loading dose ranges no more than 20 to 30 grams per day, or you can also calculate the dose otherwise – according to your body weight (you should take around 0.3 grams of creatine/kilogram of your body weight). This dosage should be divided into 3 to 4 daily dosages.
During the loading phase, it is very important to eat lots of carbohydrates because this will help you to utilize most of the creatine that you eat, otherwise much of creatine will be just wasted and just expelled out during excretion and urine.
If you are preparing yourself for an athletic event then you should start taking creatine several weeks before that athletic event has to occur.
Maintenance Phase: After the initial loading phase, here comes the maintenance phase. A maintenance dose of 2 – 5 grams of creatine per day is recommended which is required for the maintenance of the level of saturation within the muscles. The maintenance dosage is just needed to replace the amount of creatine that has degraded the whole day.
Most of the doctors recommend that the maintenance phase should last for no more than 1 month. Normally, for most of the weight lifters after 1 month there are no extra benefits of taking creatine. After 1 month all the creatine you eat just goes waste. The weight and muscle benefits which you have gained in that 1 month can be easily maintained through training. Many people do cycling i.e. they creatine for 1 month, then going off for several months, and then again start taking it back. Right now, nobody is sure how long is it safe to take it.
Wash Out Phase: After the loading and maintenance phases are over, wash out phase is recommended. Wash out phase is recommended so that your body recovers from the abnormally high creatine levels often associated with creatine supplementation. Most sport practitioners advice a wash out phase of 1 month.
Is Loading Phase Really Required?
A loading phase is not necessarily required. You can just start with the maintenance phase, skipping the loading phase. But, if you want your muscle gains fast then we will surely recommend you a loading phase. Loading phase helps muscles get saturated with creatine faster. Through loading phase you will be able to get the results in just 2 weeks which otherwise with maintenance phase you will get in 4 weeks. If you don’t have any hurry to gain muscles then we will recommend you to start from maintenance phase only.
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