Trimethylglycine (TMG, betaine) is a dietary supplement and component of beet root, which is a methyl donor. It contributes to metabolic processes in the body which require a methyl group either directly (the methylation of homocysteine) or indirectly via replenishing the active form of folate or via replenishing S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe). As the synthesis of creatine (via GAMT) requires a donation from SAMe, it is thought that TMG can aid in creatine synthesis, which has been noted in the rat liver in the absence of creatine supplementation.
There have also been concerns that creatine can cause kidney damage, and doctors warn that people with a history of kidney disease or conditions, such as diabetes, that increase the risk of kidney problems should steer clear of the supplement. Combining creatine with nephrotoxic drugs — drugs that might damage the kidneys — like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (advil or motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), should also be avoided, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1)
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You don’t have to, but you can. The typical creatine dose is 5 grams once or twice per day, but it’s sometimes suggested that one should “load” creatine by taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week of usage. This is then followed with 3 to 4 weeks of 5 grams per day, then a break for a week or two, then repeat. This may bring about more acute increases in strength and muscle size — creatine will “work” more quickly, in other words — but it’s not necessary.
Consuming sufficient high-quality protein is essential for building muscle. Current recommendations are to consume a minimum of 0.8g of protein for each kg of body weight, however, this is really only applicable to the average sedentary individual. Current evidence shows that to support muscle development, protein intake is the key, therefore the recommended 0.8g per kg should be increased to 1.5-2.0g of protein per kg of body weight. For an 80 kg individual, that would equate to 120-160 grams of protein per day.
Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid that comes into the body through foods that are rich in protein. The performance-enhancing aspect of beta-alanine (BA) is due to its ability to increase intra-muscular levels of carnosine. Increasing beta-alanine through supplementation may raise carnosine levels by over 60 percent in as quickly as four weeks.
Weight training is primarily an isotonic form of exercise, as the force produced by the muscle to push or pull weighted objects should not change (though in practice the force produced does decrease as muscles fatigue). Any object can be used for weight training, but dumbbells, barbells, and other specialised equipment are normally used because they can be adjusted to specific weights and are easily gripped. Many exercises are not strictly isotonic because the force on the muscle varies as the joint moves through its range of motion. Movements can become easier or harder depending on the angle of muscular force relative to gravity; for example, a standard biceps curl becomes easier as the hand approaches the shoulder as more of the load is taken by the structure of the elbow. Originating from Nautilus, Inc., some machines use a logarithmic-spiral cam to keep resistance constant irrespective of the joint angle.
In addition to the proper amount of sleep, do not overdo your training regimen. While you might be tempted to think that "more is better," in fact the opposite is true. You can reach a point known as "over-training", in which you'll lose the ability to "pump" (engorge the muscles with oxygen-rich blood) your muscles, and this can even lead to muscle wasting—exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Here are some symptoms to be aware of if you think you may be falling into the over-training zone:
Studies have deemed staying in the range of 3 to 5 g per day range for maintenance to be safe, and while higher levels have been tested under acute conditions without adverse effects, there isn’t sufficient evidence to determine long-term safety. (8) If you’re interested in upping your creatine consumption, you should work with your doctor or dietitian to make sure it's right for your goals and health history.
Sound complicated? Fortunately, there's an easy rule of thumb for increasing your training volume: For each exercise, perform three to six sets of six to 12 reps, resting for 30 to 90 seconds between each set, she says. The weight used should be enough that you can get out your last reps with proper form but wouldn't be able to perform any additional reps.
How to Take It: Take your gainer at any time of day as your objective is to reach overall calorie intake goals. Ideally, instead of using them as a meal substitute, you’ll use your gainer as a snack between high-calorie, healthy, balanced meals. If you plan on taking protein powder for muscle growth in addition to gainers, make sure you add up all of your dietary protein intakes to make sure it’s worth the investment of taking both. You might be able to skip the plain protein powders.
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
Another category of muscle-building supplements that lifters and bodybuilders use to improve their results are branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs), or BCAAs. Of the 20 amino acids that make up protein, just three are referred to as BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are the specific amino acids that have been shown to stimulate protein synthesis and help regulate protein metabolism.
“There is a lot of mixed research on creatine’s ability to improve muscle strength,” the government website says. “However, analyses of this research show that creatine seems to modestly improve upper body strength and lower body strength in both younger and older adults.” Creatine has also been shown to improve athletes’ performance in rowing, soccer, and jumping height.
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.
If you're a serious strength or physique athlete, you've surely heard that supplements can help you get the most from your intense training sessions and on-point diet. But which supplements? The market is overstuffed like a bodybuilder in a child's blazer! You might be tempted to wander through a digital forest of get-big blogs and personal guru websites, but unfortunately those places can often be rife with misinformation.
Studies conducted in vegetarians tend to show cognitive enhancement in youth, possibly due to a creatine deficiency, as compared to omnivores. Vegetarian diets have lower levels of circulating creatine prior to supplementation, but attain similar circulating levels as omnivores when both groups supplement. Building on the latter, supplementation of creatine monohydrate in a loading protocol (20g daily in orange juice) in omnivores does not alter levels of creatine in white matter tissue in the brain (test subjects: competitive athletes). In most of the parameters that vegetarians experience benefits, omnivores fail to experience statistically significant benefits, except possibly when sleep deprived, where the cognitive improvements rival that seen in vegetarians. Elderly people who are omnivorous may also experience increases in cognition to a similar level, in regard to long-term memory as well as forward number and spatial recall, although the study in question failed to find any significant benefit on backward recall or random number generation, the latter of which is a test for executive working memory.
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).
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.
In a pilot study on youth with cystic fibrosis, supplementation of creatine at 12g for a week and 6g for eleven weeks afterward was associated with a time-dependent increase in maximal isometric strength reaching 14.3%, which was maintained after 12-24 weeks of supplement cessation (18.2% higher than baseline). This study noted that more patients reported an increase in wellbeing (9 subjects, 50%) rather than a decrease (3, 17%) or nothing (6, 33%) and that there was no influence on chest or lung symptoms.
The neuroprotective effects of creatine appear to exist in regard to dopamine biosynthesis, and the suppression of dopamine synthesis seen with some neurological toxins appears to be partially attenuated with dietary intake of creatine. The protective effect is weak to moderate in animal research, but appears to be additive with anti-inflammatories.
Creatine is involved indirectly in whole body methylation processes. This is due to creatine synthesis having a relatively large methyl cost, as the creatine precursor known as guanidinoacetate (GAA) requires a methyl donation from S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) in order to produce creatine. This may require up to half of the methyl groups available in the human body.
Don’t take sets to the point of failure—where you absolutely can’t perform another rep. You should never get to where you’re turning purple and screaming like you’re getting interviewed by “Mean” Gene Okerlund before WrestleMania. Most of the time, you want to end your sets two reps before total failure. Not sure when that is? The moment your form breaks down, or you’re pretty sure it’s going to break down, end the set.