There is a great amount of research published on creatine supplementation; protocols of administration, forms of creatine, as well as potential side effects. Despite this, the mechanisms by which creatine acts in the human body to improve physical and cognitive performance are still not clear. The main objectives of this review are to analyze the more recent findings on the effects and mechanisms of creatine supplementation in sports and health. As a secondary purpose, we will analyze the most recommended protocols of ingestion and its potential side effects.
Our bodies store creatine in our muscles so that we have quick access to it for fast, high-intensity movements, like sprinting or powerlifting, explains Autumn Bates, a certified clinical nutritionist and sports nutritionist in private practice in Manhattan Beach, California. “It's a nonessential amino acid, meaning your body creates it and you don't need to primarily get it from food.”
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These supplements can vary considerably from product to product in ingredients, serving sizes, and more. But the goal of each of them is generally quite similar. Most bodybuilding supplements are designed to help stimulate new muscle growth, cut away excess fat, and improve the recovery process so that you can get the most out of each trip to the gym.
Creatine supplementation (11.4g) with glycerol (1g/kg; per se effective) and glucose (75g) in endurance runners in the heat appears to attenuate the increase in internal temperature associated with an increase in total body water of 0.71+/-0.42L, while performance (VO2 max and running economy) were unaffected over 30 minutes. Creatine is effective without glycerol (20g daily with 140g of glucose polymer over a week), again without an improvement in physical performance.
Who Makes It: This product is made by Cellucor, a sports and fitness supplement firm best-known for their C4 line of pre-workout supplements. While C4 is their best seller (and a top seller overall), Cellucor also manufactures a wide range of high-quality supplements for a variety of uses. They have been in business for over 15 years and are a trusted name in the fitness community.
Weight training has also been shown to benefit dieters as it inhibits lean body mass loss (as opposed to fat loss) when under a caloric deficit. Weight training also strengthens bones, helping to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. By increasing muscular strength and improving balance, weight training can also reduce falls by elderly persons. Weight training is also attracting attention for the benefits it can have on the brain, and in older adults, a 2017 meta analysis found that it was effective in improving cognitive performance.
When you’re doing higher reps, focus on the muscle you are trying to build and squeeze every ounce of effort out of it. Yes, cheesie as it may sound, visualizing the muscles working and growing while you train them can be helpful. A 2016 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that, when lifters thought about their pecs and triceps during a workout, they activated them better.
In females, the combination of SSRIs (to increase serotonin levels in the synapse between neurons) and creatine shows promise in augmenting the anti-depressive effects of SSRI therapy. Another pilot study conducted on depression and females showed efficacy of creatine supplementation. The one study measuring male subjects noted an increase in mood and minimal anti-depressive effects, but it is not know whether this is due to gender differences or the model studies (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Include cardio training. Good cardiovascular health improves blood flow, a requirement for muscle growth. Doing cardio also improves your cardiovascular fitness, which allows you to use your muscle gains for various sports and activities. The standard recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio, or an equivalent combination of the two. A good place to start would be doing 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular activity every other day or 3 times a week. Examples of cardio include running, biking, swimming, and any sport that involves constant movement.
It raised the question about performance-enhancing drugs. Their murky role in bodybuilding has long shrouded the sport. A 2013 documentary on Heath and Mr. Olympia called “Generation Iron” (a sort of bookend piece to 1977’s “Pumping Iron,” which launched Schwarzenegger and others to fame) called the topic “taboo.” It then insinuated that, of course, bodybuilders competing in top-level contests like Mr. Olympia use steroids.
One thing to keep in mind with this set is that it contains animal products from gelatin and milk. If you are vegan, do not consume these capsules. In terms of weight gain, it is important to note that these capsules do not contain calories. You need extra calories to gain weight. Above all, since this bulking stack requires you to take several pills daily, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting this supplement regimen.
In people whose kidneys don’t function optimally, supplemental creatine seems to be safe, too. However, studies in people with suboptimal kidney function are fewer than in healthy people, and they are short-term. People with kidney dysfunction, or at risk for developing kidney dysfunction (e.g., people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or family history of kidney disease; people over sixty; and non-Hispanic blacks), might wish to forgo creatine, or otherwise take only the lowest effective dose (3 g/day) after talking to their doctor.
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.
How much of a difference does EPOC make? Well, in one research study of young women, basal metabolic rate spiked by 4.2 percent 16 hours following a strength-training session that lasted an hour and 40 minutes—the equivalent of burning an extra 60 calories, on average. That’s a long workout, and 60 extra calories isn’t exactly huge. Plus, EPOC is not a permanent boost. Research suggests it may last anywhere from 12 hours to a few days, depending on the workout and who is doing it. The calories you burn through EPOC can add up over time, especially if you’re lifting weights three or four times a week, but all in all, it doesn’t have a very big effect on your metabolism.
A study showed that 100mg/kg creatine monohydrate daily over four months supplemented by boys with DMD is able to enhance handgrip strength in the dominant hand only (less than 10% increase) and increase whole-body lean mass. While the trend toward whole body strength reduction seen in placebo was ablated and there was no interaction with corticosteroids, this study failed to find an influence on activities of daily living or lung function. Elsewhere in children not on corticosteroids with DMD, supplementation of 5g creatine for eight weeks was confirmed to increase muscular phosphocreatine content and according to a manual muscle test (MMT) there was a significant improvement in muscular function relative to placebo, with more parents reporting benefit with creatine (53.8%) relative to placebo (14%).
Naturo Nitro Creatine Chrome is an interesting choice for bulking. During the bulking process, many athletes lament losing muscle definition and feeling bloated. The magnesium creatine chelate in Naturo Nitro may help to counteract that effect as there’s some evidence that it could potentially improve performance without adding water weight. If you want to bulk but you want to keep definition, this may be worth considering.
In addition to the HIIT sessions, it’s always a good idea to go for a 30–60-minute walk as many days per week as you can. I recommend getting a minimum of 10,000 steps every day. Use a phone app to track them. If you’re into jogging, swimming, hiking, or some other form of long-duration, fairly low-intensity cardio, that is fine to do as well, and as often as you like.
Free weights include dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, sandbells, and kettlebells. Unlike weight machines, they do not constrain users to specific, fixed movements, and therefore require more effort from the individual's stabilizer muscles. It is often argued that free weight exercises are superior for precisely this reason. For example, they are recommended for golf players, since golf is a unilateral exercise that can break body balances, requiring exercises to keep the balance in muscles.
Creatine has been investigated for its effects on depression, due to the significant changes occurring in brain morphology and neuronal structure associated with depression and low brain bioenergetic turnover in depression, perhaps related to abnormal mitochondrial functioning, which reduces available energy for the brain. The general association of low or otherwise impaired phosphate energy systems (of which creatine forms the energetic basis of) with depression, has been noted previously. Due to associations with cellular death and impaired bioenergetics with depression, creatine was subsequently investigated.
Yang, L., Calingasan, N. Y., Wille, E. J., Cormier, K., Smith, K., Ferrante, R. J., & Beal, M. F. (2009, June). Combination therapy with coenzyme Q10 and creatine produces additive neuroprotective effects in models of Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases [Abstract]. Journal of Neurochemistry. 109(5):1427-39. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19476553
This cellular influx may also decrease protein oxidation rates, which leads to increases in nitrogen balance and indirectly increases muscle mass. This lowering of protein oxidation is from signaling changes caused vicariously through cell swelling and appears to upregulate 216 genes in a range of 1.3 to 5-fold increases, with the largest increase seen in the protein involved in satellite cell recruitment, sphingosine kinase-1. Most importantly for muscle hypertrophy, the protein content of PKBa/Akt1, p38 MAPK, and ERK6 increased 2.8+/-1.2 fold. Sixty-nine genes are also downregulated after creatine supplementation, to less notable degrees.
Negative regulators of the creatine transporter (CrT) are those that, when activated, reduce the activity of the CrT and overall creatine uptake into cells. As noted above, CrT activity is positively regulated by mTOR. Consistent with the well-known role of AMPK as a suppressor mTOR signaling, CrT activity has also been shown to be inhibited in response to AMPK activation in kidney epithelial cells. Since AMPK suppresses mTOR via upstream TSC2 activation, the negative regulation of AMPK on CrT activity in these cells appears to occur through an indirect mechanism. Although indirect, activation of AMPK has been noted to reduce the Vmax of the CrT without altering creatine binding, and is involved in internalizing the receptors. This pathway seems to max out at around 30% suppression, with no combination of mTOR antagonists and AMPK inducers further suppressing creatine uptake.
The genealogy of lifting can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history where humanity's fascination with physical abilities can be found among numerous ancient writings. In many prehistoric tribes, they would have a big rock they would try to lift, and the first one to lift it would inscribe their name into the stone. Such rocks have been found in Greek and Scottish castles. Progressive resistance training dates back at least to Ancient Greece, when legend has it that wrestler Milo of Croton trained by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day until it was fully grown. Another Greek, the physician Galen, described strength training exercises using the halteres (an early form of dumbbell) in the 2nd century.
One pilot study using 150mg/kg creatine monohydrate for a five day loading phase followed by maintenance (60mg/kg) for the remainder of the five weeks noted that supplementation was associated with fewer muscle symptoms and complaints alongside improved muscular function, yet a later trial trying to replicate the obsevations using 150mg/kg daily for five weeks noted the opposite, that creatine supplementation exacerbated symptoms.
It turns out yoga isn’t the only form of exercise that could strengthen your inner self. In fact, one study comparing the effects of hatha yoga and resistance exercise found that both activities improved mental health and wellbeing. Each group was less depressed, and the folks pumping iron enjoyed improved body image, too. “We know that all exercise improves mood,” explains Jeffrey A. Katula, PhD, associate professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “But I think resistance training provides something different emotionally to people.”
Remember, this is for the extreme skinny guy...But I want you to start hitting a buffet once a week. Try and position this eating frenzy after a hard workout so that the majority of calories get shuttled into the muscles which will really help you pack on those pounds and gain weight in the right places. Don't go too overboard, but this will train your body to 'accept' more food and it will increase your appetite in the days to come. Take advantage of this strategy.
Now, while all three are definitely beneficial to the process, I’d consider metabolic stress and muscular damage to be of secondary and tertiary importance, respectively. In addition, they are also things that will pretty much take care of themselves when implementing the workout guidelines and recommendations we’ve already covered (namely for volume, rep ranges, rest periods and exercise selection).
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.
Do Belgian squats (or "single leg squats") with a dumbbell. Hold out in front of your chest a dumbbell using both hands. Standing in front of a bench, lift your right leg back so that it's parallel to the floor and resting comfortably on the bench. Bend into a squat using the left leg, so that the right knee almost hits the floor. Lift and repeat 3 x 8. Repeat using opposite leg.
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.