Bigger and Badder
Talking Creatine Cycling
If you know anyone who’s been to a gym in the last 20 years, you’ve heard of creatine. If you’ve been in a gym for the last 20, then I bet you’ve used it. It is without question the most famous supplement in the world. While there are many forms of creatine, monohydrate is the most researched and supported to show increases in muscle mass and strength.
Naturally found in red meat, eggs, and fish, creatine is stored in the muscle cells for when it’s needed in the making of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the fuel of choice for your muscles. They can make ATP out of creatine phosphate, glucose, or lipids, depending on the type of exercise being performed. The body stores only enough ATP for a few seconds of all-out effort; after that, it has to make more. In the case of short-duration max-effort work (10 to 30 seconds of max effort), creatine gets used to make more ATP. This is where the benefits make themselves known for weight-training individuals. If you have a bigger pool of creatine in your body, then you should have an easier time making new ATP, and might get another rep or two beyond what was originally possible. Get it? Well, that’s the super-simple version of what happens, but you get the picture.
So how should you use creatine? Well the old-school method was to load it, with a large dose of up to 25 grams per day for three to five days, before dropping down to a maintenance dose of 5 grams per day. It was also extremely common to take creatine with a huge dose of sugar to spike insulin levels, hopefully forcing the transport of more creatine into the muscle cells. However, I think times have changed and people are getting great results by skipping the loading phase and just using 5 to 10 grams per day on days they train. The sugar spike thing is also not nearly as popular as it used to be, since a lot of people get great results just by consuming creatine with a regular carb meal. For more carb-sensitive people, that seems to be enough insulin action to do the job without putting on fat.
Now, it’s important to remember that the initial weight gain when starting creatine comes from intracellular water. It’s called volumizing. Creatine is osmotically active, meaning that it draws water to it, so it actually pulls more water inside the cell with it, hydrating your muscle tissue. The absolute key with all of this is that a more hydrated cell is able to synthesize more protein. So take the increased energy output that enables you to actually work harder and combine that with more protein synthesis, and you help enhance the anabolic environment inside your muscle tissue. Creatine is an absolute no-brainer for anyone wanting to be bigger, stronger, or leaner.
I’ve also seen zero evidence that we need to cycle creatine intake either. I have been taking 5 to 10 grams every day for over 20 years straight. I’ve had a short break here and there just to see what will happen, and I always lose about five pounds and drop a bit of strength. Soon as I start back up, even with no loading, I get back up to normal fullness in a few days. It’s the most effective supplement we have ever seen on the mass market. Get it? Got it? Good.
For another article about the history of Creatine, click here!