Creatine, Facts and Myths Part 2 - How to take Creatine!
Well, two of the world’s most experienced creatine researchers concluded that “loading” (taking 5 grams, 4 times per day for 6 days) increased muscle creatine levels by 20%. Then, taking 2 grams per day thereafter maintained this level.
They also showed that taking 3 grams per day increased creatine levels by 20% but it took 4-weeks for this to occur.
However, other studies found no increase in muscle creatine levels using two grams of creatine per day - even after six weeks. In another study, subjects who loaded with creatine and then used a maintenance dosage of five grams per day for 11 weeks lost over half of their creatine stores! So because there is a stack of research to support the original loading protocol, it may be best to load and then take a 5 gram serving daily for maintenance (or ideally two 3 gram doses daily).
Should you “cycle” creatine?
It used to be recommended that you use creatine for two or three months and then discontinue it for a month or two. This is an old-fashioned approach left over from the days when little was known about creatine’s safety. As we discussed in Part 1, safety is no longer an issue with this supplement.
Another reason cited for taking time between creatine cycles was the theory that it would stop working as well after a while (due to “down-regulation” of the creatine transporter). This was never more than a theory based on a study done on rats in 1988. Since then, a thorough study has been done in humans and it was found that no down-regulation occurred.
When should you take creatine?
The best time to take creatine is immediately after training and in the morning when the hormone insulin works best. If you aren’t taking a creatine product that contains carbs like dextrose, maltodextrin, waxy maize, etc, then be sure to have a big meal as soon after your dose of creatine as possible because protein and especially carbs increase insulin levels in the body, which delivers more creatine into the muscle.
What type of creatine?
This is controversial. Some companies are selling alternative forms of creatine (that may not be any better than plain old creatine monohydrate). Here’s one important fact that everyone should know about creatine - regular creatine monohydrate is absorbed virtually 100 percent from the gut. Scientists discovered this almost 100 years ago. So if you see a creatine product claiming that it is ‘absorbed’ better than regular creatine monohydrate, you should be sceptical to say the least. Because creatine is fully absorbed from the gut, the trick is to increase the ‘uptake’ of creatine from the blood into the muscle and that can only be done through increasing the levels of certain hormones and cellular transporters in the body – I’ll talk about this in Part 3.
By the way, if anyone would like scientific references, just ask a specific question...
Sports Supplement Specialist
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