If you want to take creatine as a supplement for bigger and stronger muscles, then the standard protocol is to have a “loading period” where you significantly increase your creatine intake for a few days or weeks. “This can prime your muscles to increase the amount of creatine that they ‘hold,’” explains Bates. “During the loading period, you generally take 5 g of creatine four times per day. After the loading period, you decrease the amount of creatine you take to a ‘maintenance’ level of 3 to 5 g per day.” (That’s also the recommendation from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.) (5)
Antioxidants in the diet protect against natural and synthetic chemical fragments called free radicals that are a part of daily living. Lifestyle challenges may increase your requirements for antioxidants. Vitamin C and E are the main antioxidants in the normal diet although many other plant nutrients contribute to this effect. Pollution, stress, smoking, strenuous exercise, and illness may increase your requirements for antioxidant protection.
Even human studies can be misinterpreted or manipulated. A few years ago a then-esoteric trace mineral called boron was found to increase testosterone, but only in older women, as it turned out. When boron was tested in young men engaged in weight training, it proved worthless for increasing testosterone. That doesn't mean boron is useless; it helps the body use the minerals calcium and magnesium, and it appears to increase mental alertness.
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.
A meta-analysis found that creatine treatment increased muscle strength in muscular dystrophies, and potentially improved functional performance. Creatine treatment does not appear to improve muscle strength in people who have metabolic myopathies. High doses of creatine lead to increased muscle pain and an impairment in activities of daily living when taken by people who have McArdle disease.
Miscellaneous: Sleep: (REM sleep) increases nocturnal testosterone levels. Behavior: Dominance challenges can, in some cases, stimulate increased testosterone release in men. Drugs: Natural or man-made antiandrogens including spearmint tea reduce testosterone levels. Licorice can decrease the production of testosterone and this effect is greater in females.
In addition to conjugation and the 17-ketosteroid pathway, testosterone can also be hydroxylated and oxidized in the liver by cytochrome P450 enzymes, including CYP3A4, CYP3A5, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP2D6. 6β-Hydroxylation and to a lesser extent 16β-hydroxylation are the major transformations. The 6β-hydroxylation of testosterone is catalyzed mainly by CYP3A4 and to a lesser extent CYP3A5 and is responsible for 75 to 80% of cytochrome P450-mediated testosterone metabolism. In addition to 6β- and 16β-hydroxytestosterone, 1β-, 2α/β-, 11β-, and 15β-hydroxytestosterone are also formed as minor metabolites. Certain cytochrome P450 enzymes such as CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 can also oxidize testosterone at the C17 position to form androstenedione.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine, and if not otherwise mentioned is the default form of creatine used in most studies on creatine. It has fairly decent intestinal absorption (covered more in depth in the pharmacology section) and is the standard form or “reference” form of creatine, which all other variants are pitted against.
It was traditionally thought that total brain blood flow was not changed during physical activity. Research in the last 10 years, however, changed this perspective. We now understand that the increased neuronal and metabolic activity of the brain during exercise drive increases in blood flow to it. We have also learned that exercise that is too intense will reduce blood flow and oxygen delivery causing fatigue. So, what is the ideal intensity to stimulate blood flow to the brain, and perhaps, augment your mental abilities in the moment?
Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Campbell, W. I., Harvey, T. M., Marcello, B. M., Roberts, M. D., Parker, A. G., Byars, A. G., Greenwood, L. D., Almada, A. L., Kreider, R. B., and Greenwood, M. The effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation with and without D-pinitol on resistance training adaptations. J.Strength.Cond.Res. 2009;23:2673-2682. View abstract.
Higher percieved effort during heat (or due to elevations in body heat) are thought to be mediated by either the serotonergic system (suppresses performance) or the dopaminergic system (enhances performance), and creatine is thought to be involved in percieved effort during heat training since it has been noted previously to interact with neurotransmission by enhancing both serotonergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission.
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;48:1772-1778. View abstract.
The largest amounts of testosterone (>95%) are produced by the testes in men, while the adrenal glands account for most of the remainder. Testosterone is also synthesized in far smaller total quantities in women by the adrenal glands, thecal cells of the ovaries, and, during pregnancy, by the placenta. In the testes, testosterone is produced by the Leydig cells. The male generative glands also contain Sertoli cells, which require testosterone for spermatogenesis. Like most hormones, testosterone is supplied to target tissues in the blood where much of it is transported bound to a specific plasma protein, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).
In males, the majority of testosterone is secreted from the testes, hence the term “testosterone”. The hormone is also produced in small amounts by the adrenal gland. The production of this hormone is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland receives instructions from the hypothalamus on how much testosterone needs producing and passes this information onto the testicles via chemicals and hormones circulating in the bloodstream.
McArdle’s disease is a myopathy associated with impaired glucose release from glycogen and impairments in muscle function at times when glucose would be the primary energy substrate. Creatine is thought to be therapeutic, but has shown differing effects in the two trials so far (both benefit and worsening of symptoms) for currently unknown reasons.
But when a premenopausal woman’s testosterone levels are too high, it can lead to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that increases the risk of irregular or absent menstrual cycles, infertility, excess hair growth, skin problems, and miscarriage. High levels of testosterone in women, whether caused by PCOS or by another condition, can cause serious health conditions such as insulin resistance, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. (12)
Weight training also requires the use of 'good form', performing the movements with the appropriate muscle group, and not transferring the weight to different body parts in order to move greater weight (called 'cheating'). Failure to use good form during a training set can result in injury or a failure to meet training goals; since the desired muscle group is not challenged sufficiently, the threshold of overload is never reached and the muscle does not gain in strength. At a particularly advanced level; however, "cheating" can be used to break through strength plateaus and encourage neurological and muscular adaptation.
Eating the right carbs is important too. Carbohydrate is stored in your body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen in the muscles is an important fuel reserve during intense physical exercise or in times of energy restriction – protein sparing. It is best to restrict or to keep away from junk carbohydrates such as sweets, cakes, and biscuits, and stick to foods like porridge, pasta (wholemeal), rice (brown), bread (wholegrain), and cereals (try to choose the versions with low or reduced sugar and salt). For more on carbohydrate and the effect of sugar on the body, click here.