If you’re the kind of person who shops for popular dietary supplements like protein or collagen powder, you’ve probably seen another popular bottle on the shelves: creatine. This supplement, which can be taken as a powder or liquid (and usually in some kind of healthy shake), is a staple in the bodybuilding community thanks to its ability to help you pack on muscle and work out longer and harder. (1) While creatine is generally considered safe — and is one of the most researched supplements out there (according to a review published in July 2012 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition) — it is still a supplement, which means it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and product claims don’t necessarily need to be substantiated (though the FDA can pull products that are found to be unsafe). (2,3)
For several years, research studies have shown that adolescents concerned with both athletics and appearance are taking performance-enhancing supplements. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics of middle-school and high-school students ages 10 to 18 years found creatine use in all grades 6 through 12. About 5.6% of the study participants and 44% of high-school senior athletes admitted taking creatine.
This is another thing I am very tired of hearing. 'No matter what I do or what I eat, I can't gain weight'. I have heard this countless times and I am here to tell you that you are dead wrong. That's OK, because I actually said the same thing until I realized the truth. Most people think they are eating a lot and you just may be. But no matter what you are eating, if you are not gaining, you are not eating enough. Most times, you should re-evaluate your diet as well and focus on more calorie dense foods. But you need to eat more if you are not gaining.
In regard to the loading period, two reviews suggest that the range of weight gain associated with creatine supplementation at 20g for 7 days is in the range of 0.9-1.8kg (1.98-3.96lbs). The highest reported increase in water weight associated with creatine loading, although measured a month after loading started (after a maintenance phase) was 3.8kg (8.36lbs).
You see, there is only so much muscle that the human body is capable of building in a given period of time. So, if you supply your body with MORE calories than it’s actually capable of putting towards the process of building new muscle… it’s not going to magically lead to additional muscle being built. It’s just going to lead to additional fat being gained.
Heath says to consume 1.25-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight for growth and he never exceeds a 1:1 meals to protein shake ratio, meaning if he has 3 shakes, he’ll have 3 meals. He suggests if you’re going to drink protein shakes, drink two and have four meals. Also, increase your protein consumption and decrease carbs to look lean. “Once I got to a certain size, I wanted to get leaner so I got to 50% protein, 30% carbs and 20% protein.”
"Start with two days for two to three weeks, then add a third day," says Davis*.*"Ideally, you should strength train three to five days per week, but work your way up—starting off at five days a week might shock your body." Here's a comprehensive three-day-per-week plan to get you started. Aim to complete 20-minute sessions, then gradually add on time in ten-minute increments until you're working for 45 to 60 minutes, suggests Davis.
Creatine concentration is normally increased in the placenta and brain in the midgestation phase until term, with further increases in the brain for another two weeks after birth. This effect appears to be due to the fetus itself expressing the creatine enzymes of synthesis (AGAT and GAMT) after 5% of the gestation time has passed (0.9 days in spiny mice). Despite creatine normally suppressing AGAT when supplemented at high concentrations, it appears that maternal supplementation of the diet with 5% creatine from the halfway point of pregnancy until term does not alter creatine synthesis in the newborn (no alterations in either AGAT or GAMT), nor does it affect the creatine transporter.
One study demonstrated that daily supplementation with 5 g of creatine monohydrate increased the intracellular creatine and PCr content of quadriceps muscle in 17 human subjects. Those with the lowest initial total creatine content had the greatest increase. In addition, exercise enhanced creatine uptake in muscle. No adverse effects were reported .
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Creatine supplementation has once been noted to improve wellbeing and fatigue resistance in people with DM2, but has twice failed for people with DM1. In all three studies, it has failed to improve power output. This is thought to be due to a reduction in the expression of the creatine transporter preventing an increase in muscular phosphocreatine content.
Unfortunately, some people are intolerant to milk, due to the casein (one of the proteins in dairy) and have trouble digesting the sugar in milk, called lactose. If this is the case, stick to whey-only protein shakes. Maximuscle uses Biomax Whey True Protein - a unique blend of whey proteins including whey protein concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate, which are lower in lactose. Biomax Whey True Protein is used in a number of Maximuscle products (Promax and Cyclone).
Long popular among bodybuilders, casein protein absorbs slowly into the bloodstream, meaning it keeps your muscles fed with amino acids for longer compared to other types of protein such as whey and plant proteins. In one Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise study, consuming casein protein immediately before bed boosted young men’s levels of circulating amino acids for 7.5 hours; they built muscle all night long while they slept.
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).
Zinc is important to produce the male hormone testosterone and in building the immune system. Magnesium is an essential component of the nervous system and for maintaining heart health. Both have a range of important biochemical function. Zinc and magnesium are often marketed to bodybuilders in combination in a supplement called ZMA. Zinc is in whole grains, seeds, nuts and particularly meat and oysters. After years of research, no evidence exists to show that either mineral offers bodybuilding or athletic performance enhancement in excess of the recommended dietary requirements.
Eat 1.5–3 grams of carbs per pound of your body weight. As with fat, this amount can vary greatly, depending on your personal needs and preferences, so consider these numbers only a starting point. If you’re very skinny and feel that you handle carbs well (i.e. you can eat a lot of them without getting fat), go ahead and eat according to the higher end of the spectrum. The same applies if you’re desperate to gain weight—you should increase your carb intake. If you’re prone to weight gain or feel lethargic on higher carbs, you should eat fewer of them. Again, see our keto guide for more details and options.
At the same time, this also doesn’t mean that primary compound exercises can never be done for more than 8 reps, or that secondary compound exercise can’t be done for 5-8 or 10-15 reps, or that isolation exercises can’t be done for less than 10 reps. Everything can be done in every rep range. However, these are the rep ranges that each type of exercise is best suited for, and where it should ideally be done most of the time.
The first thing you need is a weight training program that signals the muscle building process to begin. Research has shown that a well designed program will generate this “signal” via a combination of progressive tension overload (as in, getting stronger over time), metabolic stress (as in, fatiguing the muscle and getting “the pump”), and muscular damage (as in, actual damage to the muscle tissue itself).
Genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthetic pathway lead to various severe neurological defects. Clinically, there are three distinct disorders of creatine metabolism. Deficiencies in the two synthesis enzymes can cause L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase deficiency caused by variants in GATM and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, caused by variants in GAMT. Both biosynthetic defects are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. A third defect, creatine transporter defect, is caused by mutations in SLC6A8 and inherited in a X-linked manner. This condition is related to the transport of creatine into the brain.
So it was popular then, but is it effective now? Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it works. In the case of creatine supplementation, however, you can be confident that increased muscle strength and less fatigue is possible. All thanks to a critical chemical reaction taking place in your muscle cells. Read on and learn how creatine works and why it lives up to that nostalgic ‘90s hype.
1. Train each muscle group twice per week. To maximize muscle growth, plan to train every major muscle group at least twice per week. According to a 2016 Sports Medicine review, even if you don't work that muscle any harder or longer, by simply dividing your chest, leg or back workout into two days, you'll spur more muscle growth. While the jury is still out on whether training each muscle group three days per week is better than two at spurring hypertrophy, it is likely better suited toward experienced lifters than beginners, Matheny says.
These effects were noted before in a preliminary study of depressed adolescents (with no placebo group) showing a 55% reduction in depressive symptoms at 4g daily when brain phosphocreatine levels increased. Other prelimnary human studies suggest creatine might lessen unipolar depression and one study on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) noted improved mood as assessed by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.
The shortest and most preliminary study noted that, over the short term, creatine delivers on its expected improvement in physical strength. However, longer studies that measure the rate of loss for muscle function (deterioration of muscular capacity that is known to occur with ALS) have repeatedly failed to find a benefit with creatine supplementation.
Weight gain might be the most common side effect. “Creatine can cause your body to hold on to water by pulling fluid into your cells via osmosis,” says Bates. “It doesn't necessarily cause you to gain weight as fat, but it can increase edema, or water weight.” Also, muscle is denser than fat, so in some cases building muscle can increase body weight overall (even if you’re simultaneously burning fat).
While muscle growth is critical for bodybuilding, getting rid of extra fat is a necessity to improve your total physique. These supplements can help to increase your metabolism, forcing your body to burn away more of its fat stores. They can also slow down the digestion process to prevent excess fat and carbohydrates from entering the body and being stored.
Lyoo, I. K., Yoon, S., Kim, T. S., Hwang, J., Kim, J. E., Won, W., Bae, S., & Renshaw, P. F. (2012, September). A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of oral creatine monohydrate augmentation for enhanced response to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in women with major depressive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. 169(9):937-45. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864465
It is suggested [16,37] that another mechanism for the effect of creatine could be enhanced muscle glycogen accumulation and GLUT4 expression, when creatine supplementation is combined with a glycogen depleting exercise. Whereas it has been observed  that creatine supplementation alone does not enhance muscle glycogen storage. Hickner et al  observed positive effects of creatine supplementation for enhancing initial and maintaining a higher level of muscle glycogen during 2 hours of cycling. In general, it is accepted that glycogen depleting exercises, such as high intensity or long duration exercise should combine high carbohydrate diets with creatine supplementation to achieve heightened muscle glycogen stores .
Creatine retention (assessed by urinary analysis) tends to be very high on the first loading dose (65±11%) and declines throughout the loading phase (23±27%). This is likely due to increased muscular uptake when creatine stores are relatively low, which has been noted in vegetarians. So, creatine absorption is very high initially, but decreases througout the loading phase, as muscle creatine stores increase.
Carducci, C., Birarelli, M., Leuzzi, V., Carducci, C., Battini, R., Cioni, G., and Antonozzi, I. Guanidinoacetate and creatine plus creatinine assessment in physiologic fluids: an effective diagnostic tool for the biochemical diagnosis of arginine:glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiencies. Clin Chem 2002;48(10):1772-1778. View abstract.
The benefits of weight training overall are comparable to most other types of strength training: increased muscle, tendon and ligament strength, bone density, flexibility, tone, metabolic rate, and postural support. This type of training will also help prevent injury for athletes. There are benefits and limitations to weight training as compared to other types of strength training. Contrary to popular belief, weight training can be beneficial for both men and women.
It’s important to remember that since everybody is different, these estimates are just that. How the numbers work out for each person will definitely vary. So many factors—like genetics, hormones, sleep, and diet—can change the rate at which our bodies burn calories. And some people may have a harder time than others when it comes losing fat or gaining muscle—again, there are so many factors at play and our body chemistries are all different. Strength training is important for many, many, many other reasons (more on that later), but if you’re looking to increase your metabolism, it’s important to have realistic expectations and know that strength training can make a difference, but probably won’t drastically affect how many calories you burn from one day to the next.
Because I don’t want you to have to waste all the years and money that I did (not to mention the surgeon’s bills), I came up with a method of training and eating specifically for skinny-fat, injury-prone hard-gainers: guys who historically can’t gain muscle doing the workouts they find in magazines or on blogs. It’s also perfect for all guys over age 35 who need to be smarter with their training as they age.
The NitroSurge pre-workout supplement by Jacked Factory aims to get you pumped and focused before a gym session. Besides L-Citrulline, this supplement also contains performance-enhancing betaine anhydrous and beta alanine. It also contains L-theanine which has shown to inhibit nerve cell damage in one study. For energy-boosting benefits, the NitroSurge is also equipped with caffeine and AstraGin for energy metabolism. Before you buy, consider if you fall under the following circumstances in which this pre-workout would be beneficial to you:
This increased permeability is noted in glioma cells, where it exerts anti-cancer effects related to cell swelling, and in other membranes, such as breast cancer cells and skeletal (contractile) muscle cells. The kinetics of cyclocreatine appear to be first-order, with a relative Vmax of 90, Km of 25mM and a KD of 1.2mM.
Homocysteine is an endogenous metabolite involved in methylation processes in the body. Mildly elevated homocysteine appears to be an independent risk factor for both cardiovascular and atherosclerotic disease, where if the 8-10μM normal range is elevated by around 5μM, it is thought to confer 60-80% greater risk of atherosclerotic disease. Although it may not independently cause problems, it may play a causative role in the context of the whole body system, since it is atherogenic by augmenting LDL oxidation and promoting conversion of macrophages into foam cells.
One supplement, which a large body of research has proven effective in building muscle mass when combined with intensive strength training, is creatine (sold as creatine monohydrate). Creatine, a source of rapid energy, is stored in the muscles in small amounts. With creatine loading or supplementation, bodybuilders increase muscle stores of the energy-containing compound which then can be used to provide an extra boost for an intense-high-weight lifting session. Studies support that ingestion of a relatively high dose of creatine (20 to 30 grams per day for up to two weeks) increases muscle creatine stores by 10 to 30 percent and can boost muscle strength by about 10 percent when compared with resistance training alone (Rawson & Volek, 2003). Some athletes report (though research does not necessarily support) muscle cramping in response after using creatine supplements.
I’m going to cover this in detail in a bit, but for right now, just know this: it’s VERY possible (and common) to gain weight fast in the hopes of gaining muscle fast. The problem, however, is that the majority of the “weight” a person in this scenario will end up gaining will be body fat rather than muscle mass. This is something that needs to be avoided at all costs, and I’ll show you how a little later.
By increasing the overall pool of cellular phosphocreatine, creatine supplementation can accelerate the reycling of ADP into ATP. Since ATP stores are rapidly depleted during intense muscular effort, one of the major benefits of creatine supplementation is its ability to regenerate ATP stores faster, which can promote increased strength and power output. Over 95% of creatine is stored in muscle at a maximum cellular concentration of 30uM. Creatine storage capacity is limited, though it increases as muscle mass increases. A 70 kg male with an average physique is assumed to have total creatine stores of approximately 120g. The body can store a lot more energy as glycogen in the liver, brain, and muscles, and even more as fat.
Bottom Line: Con-Cret is one of the best creatine HCI products available. Its unique use of creatine HCI allow it to offer all the great benefits of creatine, without the bloating and water retention that creatine monohydrate sometimes causes – making Con-Cret a good creatine to take if you’re concerned about the potential for bloating with other products.
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.