Creatine? Yes, we’ve heard of it, we’ve seen it, it’s a powder, its white, and guys take it to bulk, right?
Thanks, I’ll pass. That’s probably the typical female reaction to this supplement, even for the most dedicated gym rat. Why? Because the way it works is that, as it is explained to us, creatine helps you put on muscle with the help of filling muscles with water. Now, ask any woman putting in hours at the weight racks, on cardio machines or wearing those ridiculous astronaut sweat suits in the sauna, if the idea of muscle bloat is aesthetically appealing. When women think water, we think water retention, we think bloating, we think beached whale, harpoons, netting and Japanese tourists.
However, it turns out, the meathead explanation we’ve been hearing as to how creatine works is an oversimplification and we’ve been missing out on the shmexy lean muscle building and training endurance benefits of a zero-calorie, flavorless, non-stimulant, inexpensive and scientifically proven bodybuilding supplement that is just as great for women as it is to men. If you’re training and diet are on point and want a natural and safe way to greater gains without taxing your adrenal glands or central nervous system (people, who take 2-3 scoops of preworkout, HELLO!, I’m talking to you) then it is time to add creatine to your diet.
*Note: For all intents and purposes when I refer to creatine, it is creatine monohydrate, the form with the most scientific and case study support.
What is Creatine?
Is it an amino acid? Is it a protein? Is it a hormone? Is it harvested from baby crustacean fetuses, what the heck is it? Creatine is actually a nitrogenous acid made up of l-arginie, l-methionine and glycine and is produced in the liver that supplies the entire body with energy on a cellular level. It is found in meat and fish but not enough to produce the physical results supplementation would. Fun fact: More than 95% of creatine is found and used by skeletal muscle. Another fun fact: women make have more natural creatine than men.
How It Works
"Ï don’t care it just makes me look big,” probably, a typical bro answer. But you fitness geeks, like myself, actually like to know how things work. Why? Because, oh, I don’t know, ITS GOING INTO YOUR BODY and you don’t want your insides to fall out 10 years from now because of some gimmicky advertised supplement. But, I digress. Creatine converts adenosine diphoshpate (ADP) into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the cell’s powerhouse known as the mitochondria. ATP is the fuel source for muscle contraction. The more ATP you have the more contractions and (of greater quality) you will have. PUUMMMPS! This energy conversion process helps hydrate the cell for greater energy output.Yes, the “fuller” muscle cells will lead to a fuller appearance of the muscle, overall. Deal with it. It’s not enough to make you look fat or bloated. Think of it this way, dry and stringy beef jerky versus succulent rib eye.
OK, enough science. How will this extra water from creatine make you faster, stronger, leaner, and able leap out of yoga pants in a single bound?
• Greater anaerobic threshold- fancy talk for it will take longer to feel that crippling lactic acid burn and make those funny faces.
• Muscle gains and strength- if it takes longer to get tired, then duh, you can get in more reps which over a short period of time lead to greater gains. Yes, gaaaaiinnnzzz.
• Faster recovery and delayed soreness- Live to train another day.
• Muscle hydration – our bodies are made up of 75% water and is the main conductor of stimulus and messages between the central nervous and the rest of the body. About 5% of creatine is found in the brain. The thirst is real.
• Depression and neurological disorders – Creatine may play a role in managing mood and neurological disorders because of aforementioned bullet point.
The Struggle: How Creatine Aids Fat Loss
• Can be taken alone or with beta-alanine for greater training intensity and lean muscle mass over time. The more lean muscle you have, the more 24/7 natural fat burner you have.
• Does not need to be taken with carbs or sugar for an insulin spike to provide muscles with nutrients to be effective as previously thought.
• On strict diets such as the keto diet when energy is low, creatine monohydrate can provide that extra boost to maintain adequate training output.
• Will not directly impact stress hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol that promote fat storage.
• No significant caloric value.
Dosage and Cycling Off
You should be fine with 3-5 grams creatine monohydrate before and/or after training and in the mornings on non- training days. Because the cellular hydration will add body volume, you should cycle off at least six weeks, give or take, before competition or photo shoot. It can be mixed with water, juice,BCAAS or your favorite preworkout crack. Something you should know that when you do cycle off it may seem like you have lost muscle but actually it’s just water loss with the actual amount of muscle mass remaining the same. From juicy ribeye back to hard beef jerky.
So there you have it. Creatine monohydrate is a scientifically backed, relatively inexpensive, natural, non-stimulant supplement that promotes lean muscle building, greater strength output and overall athletic performance and endurance. If you’ve done all you can do in terms of diet and training, but haven’t tried creatine, this could be what you need to get push past the frustrating plateaus.