Creatine is a nutrient found naturally in our bodies, and it’s made from a combination of the three amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine (tripeptide). Typically, half of the creatine in our body comes from the food we eat (mainly from meat and fish), while the other half is synthesised from these amino acids. 95% is stored in the skeletal muscles, the rest in the brain, heart and testes.
In the muscles, a fraction of the total creatine binds to phosphate. This fraction is called phosphocreatine (see pic below). Phosphocreatine binds with Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) to convert it back to ATP (adenosine triphosphate), an important cellular energy source.
There is scientific evidence that taking creatine supplements can increase an athlete’s performance in high-intensity anaerobic exercise. Ingesting creatine can increase the level of phosphocreatine in the muscles up to 20%. An additional study, published in August 2003 in the Royal Watson Society journal Proceedings, suggests increased mental capabilities as a result of oral intake of creatine over a 60 day period.
The marketing claims that creatine supplements also help to build muscle mass, however, are questionable. Athletes who take creatine do gain weight, but most of this weight gain is not muscle, but water (creatine takes water with it to the muscle cells). Also, creatine has no effect on aerobic exercise.
Creatine can actually cause dehydration due to increased absorption of water by the skeletal muscles. It is therefore not recommended for people with kidney disease. Current studies indicate that short-term creatine supplementation is safe, but the effects of long-term supplementation are still unknown. What is known, is that too much creatine puts the kidneys under stress. Perhaps this is why a lot of people think you can only take creatine for a 6 week cycle then stop using it. Fact it, these people take too much creatine (more than 5g serving), too frequently (more than 6 times a day). If taking more than once a day, equally space the servings and don’t go above 5g. The body (stomach, kidneys etc) cannot (happily) cope and so anymore than this is excreted in your urine; in other words, wasted.
ATP is the initial fuel for your muscle contractions (see ATP section). ATP provides energy by releasing a phosphate molecule, and it then becomes ADP. The energy produced by this lasts around 10 seconds, after which more ATP must be produced. This is where creatine phosphate comes in and gives its phosphate to the ADP making another ATP. This ATP again, is used as energy.
Your ability to generate ATP depends on your supply of creatine. The more creatine you have, the more ATP you can make.
The amount of creatine in your body depends on your body weight and mostly on your muscle mass. An average 150lb person will have about 120g of creatine, and an average person uses up about 2 grams of creatine a day.
Creatine is found mostly in meat and fish. Some good sources of creatine include cod, tuna, salmon, beef and pork; meats (especially red meat) also contain high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. So perhaps one should look to supplements for those extra nutrition and weight gain elements instead of trying to eat more meat than normal. You don’t want clogged arteries or too much body fat.
If you’re a vegetarian, you would tend to have less creatine than meat eaters; simply because meats are a source of creatine as discussed above. While the average person uses up about 2 grams of creatine each day, athletes use up much more creatine.
Creatine and Loading
There has been much controversy in recent times over the significance of loading with creatine; should athletes supplementing with creatine load creatine or not? It is an important question and has brought upon much debate in both the fitness and scientific community.
As it stands now, there is no clear scientific evidence that creatine loading is necessary to make the same gains as without. The consensus is that creatine loading will help you gain muscle mass and strength quickly at the beginning, but if you plan on using creatine for a period of time (e.g 12 weeks) you will experience the same overall gains by the time you complete your creatine usage.
Another point to be weary over is the fact that companies which manufacture creatine are trying to maximise profitability like every other company, and so recommending a loading phase will require the consumer to purchase more product which is in turn beneficial to the company. If you are going to seek advice about creatine loading, articles written by the company may not be the best to read, since they will be slightly biased. The best articles to read on the issue would be studies conducted by a number of university institutions who do not have profitability in mind when writing these articles. The key point to take away when talking about creatine is saturation; this point will be stresses time and time again. Athletes wanting the most benefit from creatine must make effort to ensure their muscle cells are always fully saturated (and hydrated); weather this means initially “loading” or “maintaining” doesn’t matter. Take as much as you require (primarily based on your bodyweight) to keep your muscle belly’s full of creatine; but, as said, don’t take more than 5g servings at any one time.
Monohydrate (most common)
Creatine Serum (Liquid Creatine)
Creatine serum or liquid creatine is simply just the liquid form of creatine monohydrate; instead of ingesting a creatine powder, you’re taking in a liquid solution of creatine. Liquid creatine claims to have the same benefits as powder creatine: provides extra energy to your muscles during workout; gives you a energy boost through ATP regeneration; you can gain weight, size, and strength etc.
Some Important Facts About Creatine Serum:
Your muscles do not instantly absorb it. However, your body is supposed to be able to absorb it easier than creatine powder, as liquids can be absorbed quicker than solids. So ignore any claims of instant absorption, its just not possible. Both creatine serum and powder take time to absorb.
Ignore any claim that you don’t have to load with liquid creatine, or take it on off days; there’s no extra benefit of creatine serum over powder.
Ignore any claims that the creatine serum is completely stable; creatine in its liquid form is unstable and degrades to creatinine; which is useless for your muscles.
Ignore any claims that says creatine serum possess extra capabilities over creatine powder; quite simply they’re both creatine and function the same.
There are a lot different brands of creatine powder, sold as creatine monoydrate, citrate, pyruvate etc. Some brands mix the creatine powder with other ingredients including taurine, ribose, electrolytes, glutamine, d-pinitol, etc. However, creatine powder on its own is simply a white, tasteless powder; which typically takes at least an hour to absorb.
Degussa Food Ingredients (DFI) set a quality standard for creatine monohydrate; Creapure. It complies with the rules for dietary supplement CGMPs proposed by the FDA.
DFI is the world’s leading provider of 100% Pharmaceutical grade creatine products such as creatine monohydrate, creatine citrate, and creatine pyruvate. These products are offered under the umbrella brand “Creapure”. Creapure reflects highest quality, proven effectiveness based on scientific studies, customer-oriented service, and innovative applications. Creapure is used by other high quality brands including Reflex and Ultimate Nutrition.
Physique Bodyshop believes in the 100% Pharmaceutical grade quality of Creapure, and it is the only pure (not mixed with other supplements) creatine monohydrate we stock on our shelves.
Fact versus Fiction
Some supplement companies will tout creatine as being a “steroid alternative” and report that athletes typically gain an instant 10 lbs of “Lean Body Mass”, while initially loading on creatine. This may indeed be true. However, it is not the entire story. When we refer to “Lean Body Mass”, we refer to all tissues in the body (organs, bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles) and not body fat. Creatine causes water to be drawn into the muscle cell (osmosis). The larger amount of water retained by the body accounts for the initial rapid weight gain. This does not constitute an instant increase in protein synthesis (muscle growth), simply that more water is in the body. This explains why athletes who go on creatine not only gain a certain amount of weight, but also have “larger looking muscles”. The increased intramuscular water retention causes the muscle belly’s to appear more full and round, giving the illusion of enhanced size.
Don’t allow yourself to be fooled, you do not instantly gain 10 lbs of muscle when going on creatine, you gain 10 lbs of water. This is not to say that creatine does not enhance muscle growth; indirectly, it does. Since creatine allows one to regenerate more ATP, it increases strength. Increases in strength allows for workouts which are more productive; you can work with heavier weights and do more reps. If you can work with heavier weights and do more reps with that weight, you are going to be generating greater intensity. Creatine also positively affects speed for the same reasons above. The greater amount of ATP allows for speed to be sustained over longer periods of time (improved anaerobic capacity). This translates to faster (anaerobic) performances.
How to use Creatine Monohydrate Effectively
It is generally recommended, but not always necessary, that one uses two phases to administer creatine: a “loading” phase and a “maintenance” phase. During the loading phase, the intent is to saturate the system with as much creatine as the body can store. The intent of the maintenance phase is to obviously maintain that saturation. Maintenance dosages are necessary to replace the spent phosphocreatine which will inevitably be lost during exercise and also to compensate for the natural degradation of creatine to creatinine. It is not necessary to repeatedly utilise “loading phases” if creatine dosages are not disrupted. The body stays saturated for approximately 1 month after dosages have stopped; so every time you buy a new bottle, you don’t have to load up if it hasn’t been that long since your last loading phase.
Typically, it is recommended that athletes under 220 lbs. use 5 x 5g doses of creatine, for a total of 25 grams daily. These dosages should be spread apart evenly throughout the day. It is recommended that maintenance dosages for these athletes is a single 5g dose per day. Recent research indicates that athletes over 220 lbs will require more creatine during the loading and maintenance phases to maintain saturation. The guidelines for such athletes is 6 x 5g doses during the loading phase, and 2 x 5g doses during the maintenance phase. It also stands to reason from that this athletes significantly smaller than 180 lbs will not need as much creatine as the regular dosage. By the 5th day of supplementation, studies have shown that the body is essentially saturated with creatine. This means that you are just “filling the tank” on this day, ensuring the muscles are fully saturated. If you are not particularly active during the loading phase, it is conceivable that less loading time will be required. When you add workouts to the picture, creatine is obviously being used, so more time is needed to ensure saturation.
This is not the only technique available for saturating the body with creatine. Saturation can also be reached by only taking 1 x 5g doses daily. As aforementioned, the body loses approximately 2g of creatine per day due to creatine degradation, so by supplementing with amounts slightly higher than those lost, eventually one will reach a level of saturation in their body; it will just take longer.
Another important issue is the method of intake into the body. A popular practice at present is to combine creatine with simple sugars (glycemic index of 90 and above). What this does is cause a spike in insulin production, which helps the body to store creatine more effectively. However, the question is; how much sugar is necessary to produce the desired effect and not cause excess fat storage as well? At present, there are no studies to indicate the optimal amount. However, to minimise fat storage and to still achieve the benefits of simple sugars, a reasonable amount to take creatine with is 25-35g.
The importance of staying adequately hydrated while supplementing with creatine monohydrate cannot be sufficiently underlined. Creatine is stored inside the muscle cells. However, this is directly limited by the amount of water present inside the cell. If there is insufficient water within the cell, the cell cannot reach its full saturation potential (i.e the cell must be fully hydrated before maximum absorption of creatine can occur). As a result, drink as much water possible when loading on creatine. It should also be noted that creatine capsules are not absorbed as efficiently as the powder. Capsules have to be digested, creatine (when combined with water) is absorbed faster through the digestive system simply because it is in liquid form.
Creatine should not be combined with very hot liquids, as this changes the chemical structure of the monohydrate molecule.
Problems with Creatine Supplementation
At present, there has been no conclusive data suggested that supplementing with creatine monohydrate is detrimental to one’s health. No negative long term side effects have yet been noted. However, there are several important questions to be considered. Firstly, there has been some unwarranted concern that creatine causes problems with the kidneys. This is not true, (especially if you are not abusing the recommended dose). Healthy kidney function is often assessed by measuring blood and urine creatinine levels. Creatinine is the waste product that occurs due to the natural degradation of creatine in the body. However, high creatinine levels may indicate kidney damage; if you augment the amount of creatine in the body, you are also going to augment the amount of creatine degraded, and hence, the amount of creatinine excreted. So creatinine levels in urine and blood will rise. If one uses too much creatine, they can also expects some minor problems with their digestive system. Basic physiology tells us that when the digestive system encounters a foreign presence or something that the body does not need, it speeds the transfer through the intestine. This speeds up excretion and manifests as gas, diarrhoea and/or upset stomach.
Creatine naturally produced by the body degrades to creatinine at a rate of approximately 2g per day. However, this is when the body has “normal” levels of creatine. So, when supplementing creatine, higher amounts are excreted as creatinine. No study has been successful to identify exactly how much extra is excreted. This poses an interesting question; do we need to reload on creatine systematically to ensure that levels are saturated in the body? Creatine is going to degrade no matter what. So, because we have more creatine in our system, it means that more creatine is going to naturally degrade. Perhaps this signifies a need to systematically reload the system; use a little bit more than our maintenance dosages to ensure proper saturation? Further study will clarify this situation. If you do wish to experiment with “mini-reloads” e.g. every 6-8 weeks, reload with 20 grams of creatine for 2-3 days. Watch for the amount of gastrointestinal distress you encounter. If you find you are experiencing diarrhoea, gas or upset stomach, do not be alarmed; this is simply a signal to cease or cut back on creatine intake for a few days.
People worry that creatine monohydrate will be banned by certain athletic organisations due to its positive influence. This is not feasible. Even if creatine monohydrate usage were banned, it would be impossible to detect athletes who did use it. Because, as said, creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in meats and fish. There is no way that the governing bodies can regulate what the athlete’s eat. Unlike steroids, creatine does not leave a chemical signature behind that makes it easy to identify.
Creatine citrate may seem like a cheap alternative to get creatine over buying creatine monohydrate. However, creatine citrate has never been shown in independent studies to increase intramuscular phosphocreatine stores, and as a result doesn’t achieve the same effect of creatine monohydrate. Furthermore, the companies who sell creatine citrate argue that it is better absorbed than creatine. This is based purely on the fact that creatine citrate dissolves better in water. There is no substantiation that creatine citrate is absorbed better in the body.
1. Creatine increases the amount of Phosphocreatine in the body. More Phosphocreatine allows for more ATP to be generated. More ATP allows for gains in strength and size.
2. Normal creatine levels in the body naturally degrade into creatinine, a waste product. Creatinine is excreted through urine. There is approximately 2g of creatine lost per day for normal levels.
3. The initial rapid weight gain that accompanies creatine supplementation is due to an increase in water retention, not due to an increase in muscle.
4. Creatine might help augment protein synthesis (muscle growth) through increasing cellular volume.
5. The body remains saturated with creatine for approximately 1 month after supplementation has stopped. Hence, you can still see an improvement in performance from creatine even if you are not taking it anymore.
6. The most effective way to increase performance through creatine supplementation is to ensure “saturation” of the muscle cells; this may involve the use of a loading phase/maintenance phase protocol. Saturation provides the fastest results.
7. For athletes under 220 lbs. it is generally recommended to use 25 grams of creatine for 5 days split into 5g dosages spread evenly throughout the day. Maintenance dosage is 5g per day.
8. For athletes over 220 lbs. it is recommended to follow the same approach but use 30 grams for each of the 5 days. Maintenance dosage is 10g per day.
9. Saturation can also be achieved without a loading phase, but it takes a longer time to see the effects. Generally, 5g per day for 1 month will saturate the system. However, the effects of this approach have not been documented in clinical study but anecdotal evidence has proved it to be just as effective, albeit less quick.
10. Creatine should be taken with a small amount (25-35g) of simple sugars (glycemic index 90 and above), between meals, to improve absorption through increased insulin secretion.
11. Have the sugars first (juice is preferred), then mix the creatine in ample water and drink it.
13. There is no data that shows creatine monohydrate supplementation is dangerous to one’s health.
14. Kidney function is not affected by creatine supplementation. High blood/urine creatinine levels are not due to kidney damage but rather to increased levels of creatine in the body.
15. “Mini-reloading phases” may be necessary to maintain a level of saturation in the body. However, the need for this has not yet been proven through study and as such is up to the user’s discretion. Creatine is naturally excreted by the body. If the amount of creatine in the body is increased, so is the amount excreted. Consequently it may be necessary to increase creatine ingestion systematically to ensure a state of saturation at all times.
16. Excessive creatine supplementation causes gastrointestinal distress (i.e. gas, upset stomach, diarrhoea). If you exhibit these symptoms you are using too much creatine and should cut back on your supplementation dosage schedule to regulate your system back to normal.
Final note. Learn as much as possible about creatine and saturation methods, and do what you think is best for you. Try different methods but don’t abuse the 5g per serving dose and drink lots of water (see water section). We stress again, the key principle is “saturation”; you do what works best for you to ensure your muscle belly’s are always saturated.
Also known as creatine ester, cre-ester and CEE, is a substance sold as an painkiller for athletic performance and for muscle death in bodybuilding. It is an ethyl ester derivative of creatine, from which it is made. In the body, CEE is converted back into creatine. CEE is said to have a much better absorption rate and a longer half-life in the body than regular creatine monohydrate, because it is slightly more lipophilic. It is also proposed to bypass the creatine transporter, thereby increasing skeletal muscle uptake of creatine and leading to an increased ability to regenerate ATP. However, in a published study comparing the two, CEE was not as effective at increasing serum and muscle creatine levels or in improving body composition, muscle mass, strength, and power. Another study found CEE to be comparable to placebo.
Golini and the Bioceutical Research team went to work to address the toxic conversion of creatine monohydrate. Eighteen months later, the finishing touches were made and a U.S. Patent application filed for the successful and novel method of keeping creatine monohydrate stable and completely free of toxic conversion.
With this new patent process the main problem with all existing creatine supplements, the inability to deliver concentrated amounts of creatine without toxic conversion, was solved.
Why buffered is better, in more ways than one
Since Kre-Alkalyn Buffered Creatine is free of unwanted creatinine conversion following liquid activation. It puts an end to the days of having to saturate your body with huge 10-20 gram amounts of creatine monohydrate in cycles to get the desired strength, endurance and muscle building effects. More concisely, KRE-ALKALYN is pH correct Creatine. No loading or cycling off and on is required. Kre-Alkalyn allows you to safely consume creatine to it’s full and most potent effect with only a fraction of previous dosages.
Kre-Alkalyn creatine facts – Q&A transcript
“If I understand this correctly, the data says that most of the creatine monohydrate I have been taking converts to toxic creatinine within minutes when added to liquid, be it juice or water, etc. So I am in effect taking a lot of creatinine and very little actual creatine monohydrate. How is this so? I have been using creatine for years and got a good effect from it. Please explain.”
The best way to explain it is, when you supplement with 5 grams of ordinary creatine monohydrate you probably get the benefit of 2-400mg of actual creatine.
Typically, the human body itself will produce around 2 grams of creatine daily. So, the additional 2-400 mgs on top of what your body naturally produces gives you a 10-20% increase in the pool of available creatine. The problem is with the 4.6 grams of toxic creatinine you’d also be ingesting. You just have to start looking at it differently. Most of the creatine is lost when added to liquid, and even more is converted to creatinine when passing through the acidic stomach. In contrast, Kre-Alkalyn gives you a full, stable uptake of pure creatine with zero toxic conversion. All the good, none of the bad.
“How does this new form of creatine, Kre-Alkalyn, never convert to creatinine?”
Through extensive trials, the research team found that the speed of the toxic conversion was directly proportional to the pH of the liquid it was mixed with. However, merely adding creatine monohydrate to a strong alkaline drink did not solve the problem because of the highly acidic stomach environment.
The breakthrough came when they discovered that if the creatine could somehow be buffered during the manufacturing process to pH12 or greater then it would remain completely stable when mixed with water and in turn ingested. The Patented process that results in Kre-Alkalyn gives you the one-and-only form of creatine that passes intact and at full dosage levels into the blood stream.
“What is the creatine buffered with?”
The buffering takes place in the synthesis process of professional Kre-Alkalyn creatine itself, allowing retention of a safe, high pH within the actual molecular structure of the compound.
“Won’t a strong alkaline substance burn human tissue in the same way as a strong acid?”
Kre-Alkalyn is food grade technology. A good analogy is how a 3.0 pH acid will burn the skin, yet you can drink all the orange soda (also pH3) you want because it is citric acid.
“Once it hits the stomach how can it be stable because of the strong stomach acids present?”
Kre-Alkalyn creatine remains 100% stable and exhibits complete uptake because the Patented buffering action is specifically designed to work within the stomach, resulting in perfect pH for full absorption.
“So, what does this all mean?”
Simply a more effective, safer and better value form of creatine. You will only need to use a fraction of what was previously needed. You’ll get better results with none of the negative side effects or toxic conversion seen with conventional creatine monohydrate.
“How is your Kre-Alkalyn a better value than plain creatine monohydrate powder?”
The advantages obviously go beyond just price. Plus, Kre-Alkalyn comes in easy-to-use capsules. But, to illustrate the value, consider that if you were previously using 15 grams a day of creatine monohydrate that you’ll only need a mere 2 caps daily of Patented Kre-Alkalyn. Yes, you did read correctly, 2 capsules TOTAL per day. Even for the most heavily muscled athletes, a 100 count bottle of Kre-Alkalyn usually lasts 4 weeks, and for the vast majority of users a full 7 weeks or more.
Five years of intensive research and development went into bringing Kre-Alkalyn to you. First offered by MASS on May 17th, 2001 – with Patent #6,399,661 awarded on June 4th, 2002
If you’re into bodybuilding, then you’ve probably already heard about creatine nitrate and are likely wondering precisely what it is and what it can do for you. To start with, let us look at what this substance really is.
It is a mixture of creatine and an organic nitrite or nitrate group. Once the substance is ingested or mixed in a solution, it is predicted to transform into the parent ions. This implies the nitrate will get metabolized into nitric oxide when it enters smooth muscle tissue. For this reason, body-builders are using the substance not only as it boosts their energy levels, but also as it is thought to increase vasodilation, thus helping muscular growth.
Creatine additions have for some time been utilised by athletes and muscle builders to improve their performance not only during workouts, but most especially during competitions. This supplement was originally introduced as energy boosters back in 1992, and is among the reasons why creatine nitrate is now taking the bodybuilding industry by storm too.
There’s maybe no necessity to reveal why a lift in energy levels can lead to a much better performance in your selected sport or iron pumping event.
Nitric oxide, for its part, is understood to promote vasodilation, which literally translates to a dilating of arteries. This permits more blood to flow into your organs whenever mandatory. For weightlifters, nitric oxide is also valuable as it promotes correct oxygen delivery to the muscles, glucose uptake, and muscle growth, among other stuff.
It also increases muscle strength and endurance, while facilitating faster muscle recovery at the same time. Now you know what creatine and nitric oxide can do for you viz. energy levels and muscular growth. And perhaps you presently have a clearer understanding of why creatine nitrate has become the newest trend in the iron pumping industry too.
ALthough we do not stock this brand or endorse it (we urge you to only use Creapure if you decide monohydrate is for you), the video is pretty useful.