Vegetarians and other people who have lower total creatine levels when they start taking creatine supplements seem to get more benefit than people who start with a higher level of creatine. Skeletal muscle will only hold a certain amount of creatine; adding more won't raise levels any more. This "saturation point" is usually reached within the first few days of taking a "loading dose."
How to Take It: So, you want to give it a go? How much should you take and what should you look for in a supplement? Definitely opt for creatine monohydrate, as it performs better in studies than other varieties, as mentioned above. A standard dose is about 5 grams a day. You can try taking this muscle builder for about 4 weeks to boost your levels. Following this time, you can either cut out creatine or lower to a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams per day. However, you’ll notice if you read the fine print that subjects in studies often have a loading phase of five days where the dosage is upped to 20 g per day, prior to adopting a standard dose (7, 8).
As mentioned, protein is essential for building muscle. If you are unable to consume the recommended amount of protein through diet alone, add protein powder for building muscle as a supplement. This applies to nearly anyone hoping to gain muscle mass since it’s not easy to pack in nearly 100 grams of protein a day through chicken, eggs and legumes alone.
In addition to the BBB, SLC6A8 is also expressed on neurons and oligodendrocytes, but is relatively absent from astrocytes, including the astrocytic feet which line 98% of the BBB. Creatine can still be transported into astrocytes (as well as cerebellar granule cells) via SLC6A8, as incubation with an SLC6A8 inhibitor prevents accumulation in vitro. It seems to be less active in a whole brain model, relative to other brain cells.
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Weight training aims to build muscle by prompting two different types of hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy leads to larger muscles and so is favored by bodybuilders more than myofibrillar hypertrophy, which builds athletic strength. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is triggered by increasing repetitions, whereas myofibrillar hypertrophy is triggered by lifting heavier weight. In either case, there is an increase in both size and strength of the muscles (compared to what happens if that same individual does not lift weights at all), however, the emphasis is different.
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.
In regard to practical interventions, concurrent glycogen loading has been noted to increase creatine stores by 37-46% regardless of whether the tissue was exercised prior to loading phase. It is important to note, however, that creatine levels in response to the creatine loading protocol were compared in one glycogen-depleted leg to the contralateral control leg, which was not exercised. This does not rule out a possible systemic exercise-driven increase in creatine uptake, and the increase in creatine noted above was larger than typically seen with a loading protocol (usually in the 20-25% range). Consistent with an exercise-effect, others have reported that exercise itself increases creatine uptake into muscle, reporting 68% greater creatine uptake in an exercised limb, relative to 14% without exercise.
Of the three, protein will of course play the most important role in the muscle building process (like calories, it’s one our required “supplies”), although fat and carbs will still be important for other reasons which range from optimizing hormone production (e.g. testosterone, the muscle building hormone) to enhancing training performance and recovery.
So how does that play out in the real world? Well, if, for example, a woman adds 10 pounds of muscle and loses 10 pounds of fat, she’ll burn 40 extra calories per day. Forty calories a day isn’t nearly as significant as a dietary change could be, but for people who are looking to lose weight, it can still make a minor difference over the long term.
You may be wondering what conditions and medications contraindicate the use of creatine supplements. Creatine is contraindicated in people with kidney insufficiency or kidney disease. If you take diabetes medication, diuretics or acetaminophen, do not take a creatine supplement. Use caution if you regularly consume caffeine while taking a creatine supplement. Overall, if you are healthy and have gotten clearance from your doctor, consider this non-GMO creatine supplement.
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Oral ingestion of 1-1000mg/kg bodyweight of creatine in mice was able to exert an anti-depressive effect, which was blocked by dopamine receptor antagonists. A low dose of creatine (0.1mg/kg) was able to enhance the dopaminergic effects of dopamine receptor activators, suggesting supplemental creatine can positively influence dopamine signaling and neurotransmission.
Researchers found that 5g of creatine four times daily for a week (loading) before sleep deprivation for 12-36 hours was able to preserve cognition during complex tasks of executive function at 36 hours only, without significant influence on immediate recall or mood. A similar protocol replicated the failure to improve memory and attention, but noted less reports of fatigue (24 hours) and less decline of vigor (24 hours) although other mood parameters were not measured.
Kidney damage (from anything) will cause high levels of creatinine in blood, and creatine can also increase blood creatinine levels in a manner that is not due to damaging the kidneys. This results in a false positive when trying to diagnose kidney damange when the subject also supplements creatine, and does not signify any actual damage to the kidneys.
Creatine is normally metabolized into creatinine (note the difference in spelling), which is eliminated by the kidneys under normal conditions. When the kidneys fail and cannot clear the blood as effectively, many metabolites get “backlogged” in the blood. Creatinine is easy to measure and as such it is a biomarker of kidney damage. If serum creatinine levels are elevated, the doctor may suspect some kidney damage. Low-dose creatine (≤5 g/day) may not cause alterations in this biomarker in otherwise normal adults but high doses of supplemental creatine may cause a false positive (an increase in creatinine, due to creatine turning into creatinine, which does not signify kidney damage) and is a diagnostic error. Most studies, however, have noted only a small increase in creatinine levels even with doses ≈20 g/day.
Stronger muscles improve performance in a variety of sports. Sport-specific training routines are used by many competitors. These often specify that the speed of muscle contraction during weight training should be the same as that of the particular sport. Sport-specific training routines also often include variations to both free weight and machine movements that may not be common for traditional weightlifting.
It is known that intracellular energy depletion (assessed by a depletion of ATP) stimulates AMPK activity in order to normalize the AMP:ATP ratio, and when activated AMPK (active in states of low cellular energy and colocalizes with creatine kinase in muscle tissue) appears to inhibit creatine kinase via phosphorylation (preserving phosphocreatine stores but attenuating the rate that creatine buffers ATP). While phosphocreatine technically inhibits AMPK, this does not occur in the presence of creatine at a 2:1 ratio. It seems that if the ratio of phosphocreatine:creatine increases (indicative of excess cellular energy status) that AMPK activity is then attenuated, since when a cell is in a high energy status, there is less AMP to directly activate AMPK.
This amino acid is actually produced by your body and so is considered a non-essential amino acid. However, in addition to taking it in supplement form, beta-alanine is also found in protein-heavy foods like meat and fish (9). This amino acid has been linked to performance enhancement outcomes, especially for weightlifters. Studies show increased performance when taking this supplement.
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.
Knowledge – When it comes to building the best physique possible, you have to be willing to experiment and learn from your body. No one will be able to tell you what’s the most effective nutrition or training split for your individual genotype. Not only that, they don’t know your personal preference, injury history, asymmetries, experience level, or current work capacity.
While the aforementioned study insinuated that after was better, at this time the “just take it at any time” or maybe more appropriately, “take it when it works for you” is the best way to go. Many people take supplements that include creatine, so if that’s in your pre- or post- workout drink, you should receive all the benefits. Optimal dosing still appears to be between 2 to 5 grams per day. You can “load” for the first 5 to 7 days to help saturate your cells, but beyond that there’s no benefit to taking large amounts. So save your money and take the smaller dose; it’ll still offer maximum results.
Recently, studies are coming out that show a general decline in testosterone levels of men in the United States and around the world. The trend is across the board and doesn’t appear to be caused simply by a decline in health, aging or an increase in obesity rates. It could be caused because of chemicals or environmental factors. In any case, low levels of testosterone can affect many areas of your health, including your ability to build muscle. If you suspect that you have low testosterone levels, you can ask your doctor to test you for it. In addition to traditional hormone therapies, there are also many natural ways to boost your levels including through supplements, some of which will be discussed later in this article.
D-aspartic acid can also help to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the “stress” hormone because its production increases during stressful situations. High cortisol levels can have many negative side effects, such as weight gain, muscle tissue breakdown, or increased blood sugar. Taking a supplement that includes cortisol can reduce stress and prevent excess fat storage or muscle loss.