Creatine People know to take it... But what does it really do? Well here are some questions that I will clarify:
Does creatine work? Yes
Can you load creatine? Yes
Is creatine safe? Yes
Does creatine make you gain muscle? No
Does creatine increase direct strength? No
Ok, I know some of you are saying b.s right now to the last two statements but just read on.
What is creatine? Creatine is a naturally occurring compound stored in the muscles. However, the creatine in our muscles is stored as creatine phosphate (CP). Creatine is an energy pool that helps replenish ATP (the body's fuel/power, adenosine triphosphate) during anaerobic training/events (short-lived events primarily 6-10seconds...and is then coupled with glycolysis/lipolysis....). If you look at the anatomy of muscle you will notice the actin/myosin threads that are the major components and give light to the sliding filament theory. These actin and myosin threads can be demonstrated by using your hands, fingers spread and pointed inward with the fingers moving between each other. One hand's fingers being actin and the other hand's myosin. On the myosin filaments there are tiny heads that when triggered by action potential (nerve impulse) attach and pull the actin filaments little by little and cause muscle shortening.... This is where creatine comes into play. Before each myosin head contraction ATP must pull back or calk the heads like a spring loaded trigger and when doing this uses a phosphate molecule. The heads are then set and await a nerve impulse that generates a calcium influx into the muscle and contraction occurs. Once The ATP sets the myosin heads it turns to ADP (diphosphate) and uses CP by cleaving a phosphate with creatine kinase and thus creating ATP all over again. The CP then turns back to creatine and awaits a free phosphate to attach itself to again!!
Can you load on creatine? Yes, the average human muscle contains about 3g/1kg; however, with loading (not loading like they say on the bottle) or taking creatine, many can improve their saturation to 5g/1kg in 1.5 to 2wks. Creatine does not leave the muscle as soon as it is used and according to research from the University of CT can stay in the muscle for up to 3wks. So technically you could take creatine for 2-3wks, load up, and then take it 2days on 2 days off, or other ways. There are no real studies that have shown creatine to damage the kidneys and studies have been run for over 12wks with no adverse effects. You do hear a lot about high levels of creatinine. Creatinine is a marker for muscle breakdown, and what do we do when we play or when we lift? We breakdown muscle. When taking that and the recommended BMI weight (WHICH IS GARBAGE UNLESS YOU ARE SEDENTARY) most people that lift have a higher than normal BMI and muscle mass...so obviously creatinine levels are going to be higher!
Creatine and weight/strength. Creatine's gains are INDIRECT! Creatine does not magically make you stronger, creatine eventually increases your anaerobic endurance which can increase the amount of weight that you can do for reps. So the more reps you can do the more time under tension you have and the more micro trauma you will cause, which will result in more protein synthesis and in the long run stronger... So it has and indirect effect. Creatine does not magically make you gain muscle mass, it makes you gain water in many and for some does not at all...for instance, I do not gain water weight with creatine at all. In the long run the indirect strength gain will make you undergo more protein synthesis and in turn gain more muscle. Lastly, creatine is creatine. The differentiating factors between brands is the transportation mechanism. Creatine Ethyl Ester has a higher cell permeability rate, while monohydrate sucks with absorption but if it is taken the right way and shuttled into the cell then it works great. Best way is to create and insulin spike to shuttle nutrients in which I will elaborate on in another thread on diet and supplementation.
CASEIN - Casein protein is a high biologic valued protein and is known for its slow breakdown of 4-6hrs as it enters the bloodstream. The reason being is that casein coagulates in the stomach and is not quickly digested.
WHEY - approximately a 45 minute release into the bloodstream
AMINOS - 5-10 minutes
The staple that everyone seems to follow is drinking a protein shake after you lift. But what if we told you that drinking a protein drink before you work out doubles the protein synthesis post workout. Yes, protein before = 2x more muscle than after! The reason being, when you intake protein before the workout then your body has amino acids readily available for use and slows muscle catabolism. It has been shown that if excessive training occurs on a single body part then your body may call upon the breakdown of muscle tissue in other areas to supply the amino acids required! So if you only have one shake, drink it before. If you have more available then sandwich the workout with shakes. The pre being low carb to exhaust muscle glycogen stores, the post being high carb.