Over the last 40 years, hundreds of supplements have been introduced into the fitness/bodybuilding industry that was purported to assist with gaining muscle, boosting strength, enhancing power, and augmenting one’s health. And while most of them have failed to deliver, both in the laboratory and/or the real world, one has stood out from the rest, producing positive results in just about everyone that tries it – CREATINE.
Introduced to the market in the early 1990s, creatine has likely been the most utilized and scientifically studied compound to date, and to this day is unsurpassed in its effectiveness when implemented properly into a well-designed workout and diet protocol. So, if you have not yet started taking this amazing supplement, here are X reasons why it’s time you begin to include it into your pills, powders, and potions arsenal.
1. Cellular Energy Production
Taking creatine increases levels of phosphocreatine, which in turn allows you to resynthesize ATP more rapidly between sets/bouts of high-intensity exercise. RESULT = The ability to lift heavier weights for more reps, which will ignite greater hypertrophy.
2. Cell Volumization
Creatine draws fluid into muscle cells, forcing them to swell. RESULT = Science has shown that while swelling the cells with fluid will immediately increase their size, there is also an ongoing anabolic (muscle producing) effect, which will lead to even more growth over time.
3. Lower Myostatin
Myostatin is a myokine protein that acts to inhibit muscle growth. Creatine has been shown to decrease the amount of myostatin we produce, especially in conjunction with resistance exercise. RESULT = An increased ability to build new lean tissue.
4. Augmented Recovery
Creatine can help blunt muscle soreness and creatine kinase (a marker of muscle damage) over time, after bouts of intense workouts. RESULT = More rapid recovery between workouts will enhance the anabolic response to training and allow for more frequent and effective trips to the gym.
5. Higher IGF-1
Insulin-like Growth Factor is a powerful muscle-building hormone released locally within muscles. Creatine intake has been proven to increase IGF-1 output to a measurable degree. RESULT = More rapid accumulation of muscle tissue.
6. Myriad of Health Benefits
While entire articles could be written on the individual health benefits creatine has been shown to have, a few of the more significant ones include: a) Reduction in circulating blood sugar levels after meals, which is beneficial for diabetics; b) Positive effects against ALS, which is a disease that affects the motor neurons essential for movement. Creatine improved motor function, increased muscle strength and reduced muscle fatigue; c) Protection against oxidative damage to cells, d) Reduction in blood markers for inflammation, e) Prevention of strength loss and DNA damage in the elderly, f) Possible ability to fight degenerative effects of Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as ischemic stroke, epilepsy and brain/spinal cord injuries. RESULT = The possibility of a longer, stronger, more vital, and active life.
If you have never taken creatine before then you can begin by taking 5 grams five times per day with meals for one week. This will help saturate muscle cells quickly. After this, a maintenance dose of just 5 grams per day should be consumed with your post-workout meal on training days, and with breakfast on off days. While there is no proven need to cycle creatine use, I have personally had the best results (over time) by cycling 16 weeks on and 4 weeks off (entering back into a loading phase after every 4 weeks of nonuse). See what works best for you.
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