In humans, studies that investigate links between serotonin and creatine supplementation find that 21 trained males, given creatine via 22.8g creatine monohydrate (20g creatine equivalent) with 35g glucose, relative to a placebo of 160g glucose, was found to reduce the perception of fatigue in hot endurance training, possibly secondary to serotonergic modulation, specifically attentuating the increase of serotonin seen with exercise (normally seen to hinder exercise capacity in the heat) while possibly increasing dopaminergic activity (conversely seen to benefit activity in the heat).
According to the two meta-analyses on the topic, creatine significantly increases power when supplemented in both sexes over a period of time up to 8 weeks, during which improvement over placebo is maintained, rather than being enhanced further. The rate at which power is derived from a resistance training regimen appears to be up to 78.5% greater with creatine relative to placebo, and in active trained men who are naive to creatine, this can be quantified at about 7kg for the bench press and 10kg for the squat over 8 weeks.
There's good news, though: These temporary muscle pumps are critical to improving muscle hypertrophy, or muscle growth, according to 2014 research in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. So you can think of your weight-room pump as a preview of the muscle results that are to come. Speaking of which, here's an expert-endorsed timeline to reach your muscle-building goals.
“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.
When it comes to finding the right meal plan, you have to start somewhere. Start with writing down what you eat in a food diary, calculate the calories you’re consuming daily (ex: 3,000 without protein shakes), and break those up into six meals (ex: 500 calories each), says Heath. Then, choose a macronutrient ratio. For example, the 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat ratio is what Heath used to get bigger when he first started bodybuilding. “Buy a food scale, learn how to use it, and you may even have to learn to use the metric system, like grams instead of ounces,” Heath says. “You need to train your body to process food quickly, so eat every three hours.”
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Why it made the list: Whey tops the list of mass-gain supplements because it's the most crucial for pushing protein synthesis. Whey is a milk protein that has a high level of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs, No. 4 on our list). Bottom line: Whey takes the crown because it digests fast and gets to your muscles rapidly to start building muscle. Whey also contains peptides (small proteins) that increase blood flow to the muscles. This is why we always recommend consuming whey protein immediately after training.
As Heath talked in the office, Cremona presented him with steak and white rice. It was takeout, from Outback Steakhouse, because the two had just returned from a weeklong trip. Heath reached toward a bouquet of round plastic jars filled with powdered supplements. He scooped powder from one into a water bottle, shook it and drank. He compared himself to a racecar, always in need of fuel and delicate tinkering.
Do you know what happens when a person attempts to build muscle faster than they legitimately can? They fail, and then they wonder why it’s not working as quickly as they thought it would. From there, they’ll jump from workout to workout, diet to diet and useless supplement to useless supplement in the hopes of finally finding the missing link that will make it happen. But they’re never going to find it. They’ll just keep wasting their time, effort and money searching for something that doesn’t exist.
However, caffeine does not negate the benefits of creatine loading when not coingested, but just taken before exercise in the same dosage. This result indicates that loading creatine without caffeine on a daily basis, but saving caffeine for select workouts, may be an effective strategy, as creatine does not adversely affect caffeine’s ergogenic effects and may enhance creatine’s effectiveness in anaerobic exertion if the two compounds are alternated.
Those micro-tears that are such a key factor for muscle-building need rest to rebuild themselves and grow stronger. When do they do that? When you’re asleep! “You have to rest and feed your muscles between workouts or you will tear them down and they will become weaker,” says Olson. “Over time, you run the risk of over-training, which can result in injury, and possibly even more sleep troubles.”
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Creatine supplementation at 300mg/kg for one week (loading with no maintenance) in youth subject to six repeated 35m sprints (10s rest, known as the Running-based Anaerobic Sprint Test or RAST) noted that the increased average and peak power output seen in creatine was not met with a reduction in fatigue, although there was an attenuation in inflammation from exercise (TNFα and CRP).
If there are any benefits for swimming performance from creatine supplementation, they appear to be limited to a 50 meter sprint or a handful of 50 meter sprints with short intermissions. Excessive sprinting (over six sprints with short breaks) or too long of a break (five minutes rather than two) seem to not be associated with the benefits of creatine supplementation.
Creatine, which is synthesized in the liver and kidneys, is transported through the blood and taken up by tissues with high energy demands, such as the brain and skeletal muscle, through an active transport system. The concentration of ATP in skeletal muscle is usually 2–5 mM, which would result in a muscle contraction of only a few seconds. During times of increased energy demands, the phosphagen (or ATP/PCr) system rapidly resynthesizes ATP from ADP with the use of phosphocreatine (PCr) through a reversible reaction with the enzyme creatine kinase (CK). In skeletal muscle, PCr concentrations may reach 20–35 mM or more. Additionally, in most muscles, the ATP regeneration capacity of CK is very high and is therefore not a limiting factor. Although the cellular concentrations of ATP are small, changes are difficult to detect because ATP is continuously and efficiently replenished from the large pools of PCr and CK. Creatine has the ability to increase muscle stores of PCr, potentially increasing the muscle’s ability to resynthesize ATP from ADP to meet increased energy demands.
It’s true—your genes can play a role when it comes to building muscle. In general, there are two types of muscle fibers: Type I, which are slow twitch, and Type II, which are fast twitch. Depending on which you have more of, you may have an easier or harder time gaining muscle. “Fast twitch muscle fibers are two times as thick as slow twitch muscle fibers, lending to the overall thickness of the muscle without any activity,” explains Lovitt. “Those people with a genetic predisposition of a high percentage of these fibers can increase muscle size very easily while the people with a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers have to work really hard to put on mass.” It’s the reason why a world-class sprinter genetically has more fast twitch muscle fibers than a world-class marathoner—it comes down to what we’re born with.
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.
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
Taking high doses of creatine might harm the kidneys. Some medications can also harm the kidneys. Taking creatine with medications that can harm the kidneys might increase the chance of kidney damage.
Some of these medications that can harm the kidneys include cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); aminoglycosides including amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin, Gentak, others), and tobramycin (Nebcin, others); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, others), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene); and numerous others.
After a tough sweat, it's important to rehydrate your body: "Drink lots of water and thank your body for what it was just able to accomplish," says Davis. A balanced post-workout snack is also a good idea. Go for one with carbs refuel your glycogen stores (one of your body's main energy sources) and about 10 to 20 grams of protein to help build and repair your muscles. "Don’t overcomplicate it," says Davis. If you're lifting and weight loss is one of your goals, though, it's still important to keep calories in mind—a post-workout snack shouldn't be more than 150 to 200 calories. Here's a guide to how many calories you should be eating for weight loss.
AAKG β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate Carnitine Chondroitin sulfate Cod liver oil Copper gluconate Creatine/Creatine supplements Dietary fiber Echinacea Elemental calcium Ephedra Fish oil Folic acid Ginseng Glucosamine Glutamine Grape seed extract Guarana Iron supplements Japanese Honeysuckle Krill oil Lingzhi Linseed oil Lipoic acid Milk thistle Melatonin Red yeast rice Royal jelly Saw palmetto Spirulina St John's wort Taurine Wheatgrass Wolfberry Yohimbine Zinc gluconate
Collectively the above investigations indicate that creatine supplementation can be an effective strategy to maintain total creatine pool during a rehabilitation period after injury as well as to attenuate muscle damage induced by a prolonged endurance training session. In addition, it seems that creatine can act as an effective antioxidant agent after more intense resistance training sessions.