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Creatine Article

Creatine Monohydrate (From an article sent out by SportPharma USA:) When you tense a muscle, force is produced. That force is translated into muscle contraction, but in order for the muscle to function properly, it requires energy. That energy comes from several different sources, but the primary supply is through the nutrients that you consume in your diet. These nutrients are broken down by the stomach and absorbed into the bloodstream where they undergo further alterations. One of the compounds that is formed after many complicated processes and reactions is called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the bridge between the energy in the food we eat and actual chemical energy which enables us to lift a weight. When muscle contraction is required, stored ATP is broken down even further to another chemical known as adenosine diphosphate (ADP). When ATP is broken down to ADP, energy is released and used by the contracting muscle cell. ATP is your body's immediate source of energy. Now, when you have used up your muscle cells' immediate source of ATP, your body tries to resupply itself by "borrowing" a high energy phosphate from a chemical called creatine phosphate (CP). (Muscle cells store CP in the same way they store ATP). (my wording:) Basically, this means that during intense exercise, your source of energy, ATP is broken down to ADP, and so, your muscles need some recuperation time for the CP + ADP --> ATP + C reation to occur. Once ATP levels are restored you once again have more energy to put the muscle through intense exercise again. This process generally takes a few minutes, which disturbs the less rest time ideology - your muscles need 3-5 minutes rest time between sets if you are to put them through the same intense exercise again. Otherwise that energy source ATP just isn't available to the same degree. It has been shown in various studies that supplementing with creatine monohydrate can increase the levels of CP in the muscle cells, and thus significantly decrease the time in which ATP levels are restored. This means extra energy during each set as well - creatine levels are normally diminished during the first few reps of each set, but by supplementing creatine, this can be extended, meaning more reps with a given weight, or the same number with a heavier weight. (back to the article:) You might ask, "Why not take a supplemental form of CP or ATP instead of creatine?" Well, as with many nutritional supplements, CP and ATP are destroyed by the gut. In fact, there are CP and ATP supplements on the market, but they go unnoticed because, quite frankly, they don't work. Not only that, consuming CP or ATP is more expensive than supplementing creatine. So just how exactly should athletes supplement creatine? Well, we don't exactly know for certain, but evidence suggests that starting out by saturating muscle tissue by consuming 5 grams of creatine 4-6 times daily, with meals, for 3 days, followed by a maintenance does of 5 grams 1-2 times daily may prove to have positive effects. (my additions again:) The general consensus amongst those using creatine supplementation is that the loading phase should be of 20-30g daily for 5 days, split up into 4 portions daily. Also, some say it should be taken with sugar and just before a protein meal for best absorption. You also need to drink more water, particularly during the loading phase. Creatine has a cell volumizing "side effect", and so the muscle cells do retain water. After supplementation is stopped, much of the initial weight gain may be lost. During the course of the supplementation, the muscles look more bigger, harder, and pumped. Evidence shows that creatine stores in muscles can be elevated by between 25 and 40% during the loading phase. These levels can then be maintained with a lower dosage of 5-15 grams daily. Creatine monohydrate is a naturally occurring substance, found in red meat. Generally a person only requires one gram daily, however, additional supplementation has been shown to be of great benefit to strength athletes, especially powerlifters. 5 grams of creatine monohydrate would typically amount to about a kilo, or 2.2 pounds of fresh steak. As aforementioned, for best absorption creatine should be taken with sugar. It can be mixed with water or juice, with a high gylcemic juice such as grape being more favourable (to cause an insulin spike for greater uptake). It dissolves a little easier in warm water, but is destroyed by high temperatures so care should be taken. Finally, creatine monohydrate supplementation is safe, legal, and has no known negative side effects. NOTE: Personally, I didn't gain any benefit from using creatine, except for perhaps a slight decrease in the need for heavy breathing after a set (from a reduction in ammonia levels). It is possible my creatine was partially destroyed by temperatures when imported from the U.S. - can anyone support or refute this theory? I didn't even gain any weight from creatine (no water retention, despite drinking more). I followed the loading phase very closely, despite some saying it isn't needed. My maintenance dosage was 5-10g daily.