Because so many product labels list scientific references to back up the manufacturers' claims of performance and efficacy, or effectiveness, it's important to understand what constitutes a solid scientific study. A single study, even an optimally designed one, isn't considered scientific proof. The results have to be replicated several times before they're officially accepted as fact.
Minor liver lesions (grade I, no grade II or III, pathology not indicative of toxicity) have been studied in SOD1 G93A transgenic mice (a research model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, but used in this study to assess a state of chronic pro-oxidative stress) for 159 days with 2% of feed intake and in CD-1 rats (seen as normal) over 56 days with 0.025-0.5mg/kg in CD-1 mice, although in Sprague-Dawley rats (normal controls) there were no significant differences noted even after 2% of feed intake for 365 days. These observations appear to be due to the strain of the rodents used, and human studies on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; what the SOD1 G93A transgenic mice are thought to represent) lasting from nine to sixteen months with subjects supplementing with up to 10g of creatine daily have failed to find any abnormalities in serum biomarkers of liver or kidney health.
One study investigating the effects of creatine supplementation on people with osteoarthritis undergoing knee arthroplasty (surgical procedure for osteoarthritis), who received creatine at 10g daily for 10 days prior to surgery and 5g daily for a month afterward, failed to find benefit with supplementation. This study failed to find any differences in muscular creatine stores or weight changes.
Athletes in ancient Greece were advised to consume large quantities of meat and wine. A number of herbal concoctions and tonics have been used by strong men and athletes since ancient times across cultures to try to increase their strength and stamina. In the 1910s, Eugen Sandow, widely considered to be the first modern bodybuilder in the West, advocated the use of dietary control to enhance muscle growth. Later, bodybuilder Earle Liederman advocated the use of "beef juice" or "beef extract" (basically, consomme) as a way to enhance muscle recovery. In 1950s with recreational and competitive bodybuilding becoming increasingly popular Irvin P. Johnson began to popularize and market egg-based protein powders marketed specifically at bodybuilders and physical athletes. The 1970s and 1980s marked a dramatic increase in the growth of the bodybuilding supplement industry, fueled by widespread use of modern marketing techniques and a marked increase in recreational bodybuilding.
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Liquid creatine has been shown to be less effective than creatine monohydrate. This reduced effect is due to the passive breakdown of creatine over a period of days into creatinine, which occurs when it is suspended in solution. This breakdown is not an issue for at-home use when creatine is added to shakes, but it is a concern from a manufacturing perspective in regard to shelf-life before use.
The creatine transporter (CrT) is positively regulated by proteins known to be involved in sensing and responding to the cellular energy state, including the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Upon activation, mTOR stimulates SGK1 and SGK3 to act upon PIKfyve and subsequently PI(3,5)P2 to increase CrT activity. Beyond mTOR, SGK1 also is stimulated by intracellular calcium and a lack of oxygen (ischemia). Because transient ischemia is associated with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production after blood flow is restored (reperfusion) it has been hypothesized that muscle contraction may increase creatine uptake through a similar ROS-mediated mechanism.
It may seem odd to put such a common supplement as minerals on this list, but few people are aware that minerals are enzyme activators. Many vitamins, on the other hand, are coenzymes, which means that without minerals they're useless. Many minerals, such as zinc and chromium, also interact with various anabolic hormones, such as testosterone, growth hormone and insulin.
One study on 27 otherwise healthy men supplementing creatine (0.3g/kg loading for a week, 0.05g/kg thereafter for 8 weeks) with a thrice weekly exercise regiment noted that alongside greater increase in lean mass and power relative to placebo at 4 and 8 weeks, myostatin in serum decreased to a greater extent with creatine (around 17% at 8 weeks, derived from graph) than it did with placebo (approximately 7%). Increases in GASP-1, a serum protein that inhibits the actions of myostatin by directly binding to it, were not different between groups.
The creatine transporter is a sodium and chloride dependent membrane-associated transporter that belongs to the Na+/Cl-dependent family of neurotransmitter transporters. In muscle cells and most other cell types, the isomer of the creatine transporter is known as SLC6A8 (solute carrier family 6, member 8). SLC6A8 is encoded by the gene present on the Xq28 region of the human X-chromosome and is expressed in most tissues. A related gene encoding a creatine transporter variant has also been identified at 16p11.1 that is expressed exclusively in the testes. These two transporters share 98% homology.
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Casein, the source of the white color of milk, accounts for 70-80% of milk protein. Casein exists in what’s known as a micelle, a compound similar to a soap sud which has a water-averse inside and water-loving outside. This property allows the protein to provide a sustained, slow release of amino acids into the blood stream, sometimes lasting for hours. This makes casein a good protein source immediately before a workout to provide a continual amino acid supply to the muscles. Some studies suggest that combined supplementation with casein and whey offers the greatest muscular strength improvement (Kerksick, 2006).
Despite creatine not interfering with UV(A) irradiation acting upon a cell or the production of oxidation due to it, creatine appears to prevent the functional consequences (such as mitochondrial DNA damage) due to preventing an ATP depletion in the cell, which would normally precede a reduction in mitochondrial membrane potential and mutagenesis, but this effect is prevented for as long as creatine stores are sufficient. Creatine has also been noted to near-fully protect mitochondrial DNA from hydroxyl radicals and oxidative damage, although there was no protective effect for nuclear DNA, due to it being less sensitive to hydroxyl radicals.
In the early 2000s, the IFBB was attempting to make bodybuilding an Olympic sport. It obtained full IOC membership in 2000 and was attempting to get approved as a demonstration event at the Olympics, which would hopefully lead to it being added as a full contest. This did not happen and Olympic recognition for bodybuilding remains controversial since many argue that bodybuilding is not a sport.
That said, many people experience stomach cramps when they consume creatine monohydrate and it’s possible that taking a creatine with a different pH — usually creatine hydrochloride — can have a different effect on stomach acid and make for a creatine that digests more easily. As far as we know, the easier digestion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more effective or that you need less of it to achieve the desired result.
Less muscle breakdown can also help to reduce post-workout muscle soreness levels. During workouts, the body creates lactic acid as it works to generate extra energy. The buildup of lactic acid can cause muscle fatigue, swelling, and tenderness. Improving the ability of the body to recover can help to more effectively clear out lactic acid, reducing inflammation and soreness.
Exercise is highly effective in increasing your lean body mass, which is essentially muscle. In a study published in 2012, progressive resistance training helped men ages 50 to 83 gain an average of 2.4 pounds of lean body mass over an average of 20.5 weeks. Progressive resistance training involves performing weight bearing exercises. In addition, you must slowly increase the challenge of the exercise over time by increasing the weight, reps and/or sets. Studies show that either increasing reps or weight amount will work. So, if you don’t want to lift more weight, you can just do more reps and still build muscle.
We’ll define the “bigger muscle groups” as being chest, back, quads and hamstrings, and the “smaller muscle groups” as being biceps, triceps and maybe abs. Shoulders are really somewhere in the middle, though I tend to lean more toward the “smaller” guidelines. Calves, while technically small, are another muscle group that is somewhere in the middle, and I can really go either way depending on the needs of the person.
Han:SPRD‐cy rats (human polycystic kidney disease model) have pre-existing renal damage, which is accelerated upon ingestion of creatine supplementation at 0.3% of the diet for five days and 0.03-0.05% for the next 35 days (equivalent to human loading and maintenance). During this particular disease state, renal water content and size progressively increases. Since creatine supplementation furthered the increase by an additional 2.1%, it was thought that this property of creatine explained the 23% increased cyst scores seen relative to control.
Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Campbell, W. I., Harvey, T. M., Marcello, B. M., Roberts, M. D., Parker, A. G., Byars, A. G., Greenwood, L. D., Almada, A. L., Kreider, R. B., and Greenwood, M. The effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation with and without D-pinitol on resistance training adaptations. J.Strength.Cond.Res. 2009;23:2673-2682. View abstract.
Yes, you can pack on size while only doing bodyweight exercises – I did it while traveling the world – and gymnasts train mostly with bodyweight movements. However, this can feel like playing Halo on Legendary difficulty. It can be done, but damn it can be challenging – especially for lower body movements. If your sole goal is to get bigger as fast as possible, access to a barbell for squats and deadlift is almost a requirement.
Creatine is a natural source of energy for muscle contraction. The body produces creatine in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. People can also get creatine by eating meat or fish. (Vegetarians may have lower amounts of creatine in their bodies.) Most of the creatine in the body is stored in skeletal muscle and used during physical activity. The rest is used in the heart, brain, and other tissues.
Young adult athletes who reported creatine usage for over two years prior to the study (retrospective design) were not significantly different than controls. Elsewhere, in a similar cohort of athletes reporting creatine usage for up to four years, failed to note significant differences in liver enzymes, although a nonsignificant reduction in LDH was noted.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in muscle in large amounts. Creatine monohydrate is the supplement form and combines is a combination of the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine drives the important creatine phosphate energy pathway, which is important in high-intensity activity such as weightlifting. Creatine can improve body bulk and training performance in high-intensity activities. Be aware that not everyone responds to creatine supplementation and 30 percent of users may not see any improvement. Women may not benefit as much as men. In weight training, increased strength, bulk, and fat loss are reasonably consistent results.
No. It’s not easy for everyone to get the recommended amount of protein in their diets through good eating habits alone. Others may not have clinically low testosterone, but still benefit from boosting their levels to improve their muscle building capacity. You can fix these common problems through muscle building supplements. These easy to take pills and powders can also help you boost your performance at the gym which will, in turn, spur your body’s muscle building and recovery response.
Whether you’re taking a supplement or not, creatine is already functioning inside you, doing its very important job. It’s an amino acid found naturally in the meat and fish you consume and, according to the Mayo Clinic, your liver and kidneys crank it out as well. The creatine is mainly stored as creatine phosphate in your muscles, ready for use in energy production.
The pancreas is one of the extrahepatic (beyond the liver) organs that can synthesize creatine, alongside the kidneys. Freshly prepared pancreatic β-cells will normally secrete insulin in response to glucose stimulation, and it appears that phosphocreatine is required for this effect, since phosphocreatine is increased in response to glucose alongside an increase of the ADP:ATP ratio. They appear to close ATP sensitive potassium channels (KATP channels), causing a release of insulin secondary to calcium release. Both phosphocreatine and ADP are implicated, but it seems that despite the channel being sensitive to ATP, the concentration of ATP in a pancreatic cell (3-5mM) is already above the activation threshold (in the micromolar range) and thus a further increase would not have an appreciable effect.
Gains will differ from one individual to another depending on body size and level of experience in the gym. To make sure you're gaining muscle, not fat, don't just consider your scale weight. Instead, rely on what you see in the mirror and use a tape measure twice a month to keep track of your waist and hips (you don't want to gain there) as well as your biceps, chest and quads. Also, don't think that you have to gain a set amount of weight each and every week. "Your mass gain doesn't have to be uniform," Aceto explains. That means you can gain 1/2 pound one week and 1 1/2 the next, perhaps none the third week and still remain on course. "Expecting uniform gains ignores the intricate makeup of the body and the way it gains mass - or loses fat - which is by no means in linear fashion," adds Aceto.
Creatine supplementation appears to attenuate decreases in GLUT4 expression seen with immobility and may increase GLUT4 expression during exercise. While it seems capable of increasing GLUT4 during resting conditions, it has failed to reach significance, suggesting that creatine supplementation works best with some stimuli associated with exercise.
Without a doubt, you can add muscle simply by eating right and lifting weights. But to truly maximize your growth potential, supplements are a requirement. Hence, we've compiled a rundown of the 11 best mass-gain supplements on which to spend your hard-earned cash. They're listed in order of priority, from the absolute most critical, can't-do-without supplements to the less crucial yet still highly effective ingredients for packing on size. The point is to help those on a tight budget decide which supplements to buy. If money is no object, then by all means knock yourself out and use them all as directed. Because after all, as far as we're concerned, you can never have too much muscle.
Several review studies assessing the safety of creatine supplementation tend to make note of increases in formaldehyde and possible carcinogenic results. Specifically, creatine is metabolized into an intermediate called methylamine, which can be converted to formaldehyde by the SSAO enzyme. An increase in urinary formaldehyde has been noted in youth given 21g of creatine for one week, during which both methylamine (820% increase) and formaldehyde (350%) were increased, relative to control. However, a more prolonged study using 300mg/kg (loading dose of around 20g) in adults for ten weeks failed to replicate these effects.
If you are doing this on your own, but are overwhelmed and confused about strength training, I know how that feels. It can be scary enough to keep MOST people from starting, which is actually why we created our 1-on-1 Coaching Program. Our coach gets to know you, builds a program based on your experience and goals, will check your form on each movement (via video), and keep you accountable and on track!
Brain injury. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 7 days increases the ability to exercise by increasing lung function in people with a spinal cord injury. However, other research shows that creatine does not improve wrist muscle or hand function. Early research also shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 6 months reduces amnesia following a traumatic brain injury in children.
In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.
Bodybuilders may supplement their diets with protein for reasons of convenience, lower cost (relative to meat and fish products), ease of preparation, and to avoid the concurrent consumption of carbohydrates and fats. Additionally, some argue that bodybuilders, by virtue of their unique training and goals, require higher-than-average quantities of protein to support maximal muscle growth. However, there is no scientific consensus for bodybuilders to consume more protein than the recommended dietary allowance. Protein supplements are sold in ready-to-drink shakes, bars, meal replacement products (see below), bites, oats, gels and powders. Protein powders are the most popular and may have flavoring added for palatability. The powder is usually mixed with water, milk or fruit juice and is generally consumed immediately before and after exercising or in place of a meal. The sources of protein are as follows and differ in protein quality depending on their amino acid profile and digestibility:
Neurological and cognitive function has also been shown to be improved by creatine supplementation [47,48]. Rawson and Venezia  review the effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function highlighting that higher brain creatine has been associated with improved neuropsychological performance. Creatine supplementation protocols have been shown to increase brain creatine and phosphocreatine contents. Cognitive processing hindered due to sleep deprivation and natural impairment due to aging can be improved by creatine supplementation. This review also highlights other possible benefits of creatine ingestion to older adults, such as improvements in: fatigue resistance, strength, muscle mass, bone mineral density, and performance of activities of daily living. Some of these benefits occur without concurrent exercise. The authors inform that discrepancies between studies do exist and are hard to explain but may be possibly due to differences in diet, race and/or supplementation protocols. However, the ideal dose of creatine to maximize brain uptake is not known. Patients have been supplemented with 40 g while in healthy adults positive results have been reported with around 20 g per day .
Activation of NMDA receptors is known to stimulate Na+,K+-ATPase activity secondary to calcineurin, which which has been confirmed with creatine in hippocampal cells (0.1-1mM trended, but 10mM was significant). This is blocked by NMDA antagonists. This increase in Na+,K+-ATPase activity is also attenauted with activation of either PKC or PKA, which are antagonistic with calcineurin.
How to maximize its effects: Take 20 grams of whey protein powder in the 30 minutes before working out, and take 40 grams within 60 minutes after training. Also consider taking 20-40 grams of whey immediately upon waking every morning to kick-start muscle growth. Your best bet is to choose a whey powder that contains whey protein hydrolysates (whey protein broken down into smaller fragments for faster digestion) or whey protein isolate.