Research shows that starting as early as age 30, the body begins to slowly lose muscle mass, with women losing up to 15 percent of their total-body muscle per decade by age 50. Apart from declines in strength, that declining muscle mass comes with a declining metabolism, Emilia Ravski, D.O., a sports medicine specialist with Hoag Orthopedic Institute in California, tells SELF. This decline in metabolic rate is actually one driving factor of the weight that women generally tend to put on after we naturally hit our peak muscle levels in our 20s, research from Tufts University suggests.
Creatine has demonstrated neuromuscular performance enhancing properties on short duration, predominantly anaerobic, intermittent exercises. Bazzucch et al  observed enhanced neuromuscular function of the elbow flexors in both electrically induced and voluntary contractions but not on endurance performance after 4 loading doses of 5 g creatine plus 15 g maltodextrin for 5/d in young, moderately trained men. Creatine supplementation may facilitate the reuptake of Ca2+ into the sacroplasmic reticulum by the action of the Ca2+ adenosine triphosphatase pump, which could enable force to be produced more rapidly through the faster detachment of the actomyosin bridges.
Sure, using a more effective workout routine or diet plan will work better/faster than a less effective one. However, even when you’re doing everything just right and you’ve optimized every single major and minor factor to work as quickly and effectively as possible (which I’m going to show you how to do), the simple fact is that you’re still not going to build muscle “fast.”
Co-ingesting creatine with caffeine partially negated the benefits of creatine supplementation (at 5mg/kg bodyweight) during the loading phase in one study. The exact mechanism responsible for this effect is not known, but might be related to opposing actions on muscle contraction time. However, another study in trained men found that co-ingestion of 300mg caffeine per day during creatine loading at 20g per day (split into 4 doses) had no effect on bench press 1RM, time to fatigue, or sprinting ability. However, this study also found that creatine alone or when combined with caffeine had no effect on any of these parameters over placebo, either. Thus, the study may have been underpowered or done in too short a time frame (the test was done after only 5 days of loading) to observe any possible effects.
At the end of the day, you have to focus on how you feel. “Listen to your body,” says Davis. “It tells you when it needs a day off.” As a rule of thumb, take a rest day if your perceived pain is above a seven on a scale of 10, Davis advises. Or, focus on a different body part (say, if your legs are sore, focus on upper-body moves). Can't stop, won't stop—at least, till your next rest day.
It’s not just about lifting—it’s about lifting safely and correctly. And if you’re not performing exercises properly, it’s impossible to make any progress. “When someone is just starting to work out, it can help to work closely with a knowledgeable personal trainer in order to learn proper form,” says Ingram. But that goes for experienced lifters, too. If you aren’t sure about a movement, it’s better to ask. “If you’re not working the correct muscles, you can’t expect them to grow,” explains Ingram.
In vitro studies on endothelial cells have noted that the benefits of creatine against atherosclerosis (via immune cell adhesion to the endothelial cell) are blocked with the pharmaceutical ZM241385, a high affintiy adenosine A2A receptor antagonist. This particular receptor subset (A2A rather than other adenosine receptors) and its inhibition are similar to caffeine, suggesting that caffeine may have an inhibitory effect on this mechanism of creatine.
Safety. Iron overload may cause a disease called hemochromatosis in some susceptible people. Iron supplements should only be prescribed by a doctor, and for athletes or those who train heavily, a sports physician combined with a sports dietitian may be preferable. Be sure to take care with this because iron supplements should not be taken casually. Iron supplements may cause constipation and gastric upset in some people.
Contrast loading is the alternation of heavy and light loads. Considered as sets, the heavy load is performed at about 85-95% 1 repetition max; the light load should be considerably lighter at about 30-60% 1RM. Both sets should be performed fast with the lighter set being performed as fast as possible. The joints should not be locked as this inhibits muscle fibre recruitment and reduces the speed at which the exercise can be performed. The lighter set may be a loaded plyometric exercise such as loaded squat jumps or jumps with a trap bar.
Creatine has been noted to increase the amplitude (0.5-5mM) and frequency (25mM only) of NMDA receptors, although concentrations of 0.5-25mM also reduced signaling intensity. This was credited to creatine causing an increase in ligand binding of glutamate with an EC50 of 67µM and maximal activity at 1mM creatine (158±16% of baseline). Creatine appears to modulate the polyamine binding site of the NMDA receptor, as it is abolished by arcaine and potentiated by spermidine. This binding site is known to modify NMDA receptor affinity.
Post workout, it’s important to restore your body’s energy by consuming protein and carbs. When you’re trying to build muscle, this is an especially important step. Protein powder is a great muscle builder for your post-workout routine, as long as you include a carbohydrate as well. You can get this by eating a banana or adding oats or banana to your protein shake. Or simply cook up a batch of healthy oatmeal muffins and include protein powder in your recipe. Then, enjoy your post-workout supplement as a delicious snack!
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 .
“Compared to training for strength, intensity is going to drop during the hypertrophy phase of a program, with intensity sitting between 50 and 75 percent of the person’s 1RM, the maximum weight he or she can lift for one rep,” says Ava Fitzgerald, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., a sports performance coach with the Professional Athletic Performance Center in New York.
This period also saw the rise of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and many other sports. In bodybuilding lore, this is partly attributed to the rise of "mass monsters", beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, and Lou Ferrigno in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continuing through the 1980s with Lee Haney, the 1990s with Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Markus Rühl, and up to the present day. Bodybuilders such as Greg Kovacs attained mass and size never seen previously but were not successful at the pro level. Others were renowned for their spectacular development of a particular body part, like Tom Platz or Paul Demayo for the leg muscles. At the time of shooting Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger (while never admitting to steroid use until long after his retirement) said that "you have to do anything you can to get the advantage in competition". He would later say that he does not regret using anything.
Athletic performance. Creatine seems to help improve rowing performance, jumping height, and soccer performance in athletes. But the effect of creatine on sprinting, cycling, or swimming performance varies. The mixed results may relate to the small sizes of the studies, the differences in creatine doses, and differences in test used to measure performance. Creatine does not seem to improve serving ability in tennis players.
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%).
The largest determiner of your metabolic rate is actually your total body mass. “The more cells, even fat cells, in your body, the more furnaces you have burning at any given time,” Dr. Church says. Think of it this way: It takes more juice to charge your tablet than it does to charge your phone. People who are taller and have a larger bone structure, therefore, will have a higher BMR than people who are shorter and have a slimmer build. While you can control your body mass to some extent by gaining or losing weight, you can’t change your height or your bone structure. All in all, most of a person’s BMR is determined by genetic factors, Dr. Church says.
Naturally produced in the kidneys, pancreas and liver, creatine is transported to muscle tissue where it is transformed into creatine phosphate, from which the energy molecule ATP is produced to regenerate the muscles' ability to contract and generate power during short-burst (anaerobic) activity. This translates to more productive workouts and faster muscle growth.
Listen, I know in the beginning of this post I was sympathetic to your problem, but I am also here to say, Suck It Up. I can tell you that to gain weight, you need to focus on making your meals a habit rather than an afterthought. Your body is pre-programmed with your genetic disposition. And in your case, you have a very fast metabolism that digests and burns calories quickly. Focus on having 5-6 calorie-dense meals a day spaced 2-3 hours apart so that your body is constantly being provided with something to metabolize and build muscle.
The motor proteins actin and myosin generate the forces exerted by contracting muscles. Current recommendations suggest that bodybuilders should consume 25–30% of protein per total calorie intake to further their goal of maintaining and improving their body composition. This is a widely debated topic, with many arguing that 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is ideal, some suggesting that less is sufficient, while others recommending 1.5, 2, or more. It is believed that protein needs to be consumed frequently throughout the day, especially during/after a workout, and before sleep. There is also some debate concerning the best type of protein to take. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, eggs and dairy foods are high in protein, as are some nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils. Casein or whey are often used to supplement the diet with additional protein. Whey protein is the type of protein contained in many popular brands of protein supplements and is preferred by many bodybuilders because of its high Biological Value (BV) and quick absorption rates. Whey protein also has a bigger effect than casein on insulin levels, triggering about double the amount of insulin release. That effect is somewhat overcome by combining casein and whey. Bodybuilders are usually thought to require protein with a higher BV than that of soy, which is additionally avoided due to its claimed estrogenic properties. Still, some nutrition experts believe that soy, flax seeds and many other plants that contain the weak estrogen-like compounds or phytoestrogens, can be used beneficially, as phytoestrogens compete with estrogens for receptor sites in the male body and can block its actions. This can also include some inhibition of pituitary functions while stimulating the P450 system (the system that eliminates hormones, drugs and metabolic waste product from the body) in the liver to more actively process and excrete excess estrogen. Cortisol decreases amino acid uptake by muscle, and inhibits protein synthesis.
Small but significant is good. It’s especially helpful during short periods of extremely powerful physical activity, particularly if those short bursts of activity are repeated, as in weightlifting, sprinting or football, for example. The study also says that creatine supplementation is associated with enhanced strength gains in strength training programs, which could be related to the greater volume and intensity of training that you can achieve when you’re taking creatine supplements. Plus, according to the study, there’s no evidence of gastrointestinal, renal or muscle cramping complications – more good news.
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.
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.