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Creatine — an organic compound (nitrogen-containing carboxylic acid), which takes part in the energy metabolism that occurs in muscles and nerve cells. In the human body, creatine is synthesized from 3 amino acids — arginine, methionine and glycine.

Creatine is a source of energy for muscles, increases strength and muscle mass, and also increases anaerobic endurance for a short time. In addition, creatine promotes faster recovery between workouts, has a tonic effect on the body. Remember that creatine is pointless to take without exercising.

Creatine






reception schemesa Loading No download
Advantages A stronger evidence base Less product consumption
Faster results Less risk of side effects
Flaws Higher risk of side effects Weaker evidence base
More product consumption The maximum result is only after a month

Kind

Creatine

It occurs in several forms or forms: classical (creatine monohydrate) and derivative (foods with taurine, glutamine, etc.). Creatine derivatives promote the absorption of creatine or improve its individual properties.

Monohydrate — the most common and most effective form of creatine. Contains 12% water. Monohydrate is characterized by an optimal balance of quality and price, good speed and degree of digestibility. Available in powder form, tablets and capsules. The disadvantage is that it is poorly soluble in water.

Anhydrous — unlike the previous version, it does not contain water. As a result, the content of creatine in this form is increased by 5-6%. This form is able to replace the monohydrate, but has no advantages over it.

Citrate — consists of creatine and citric acid. In theory, it increases the amount of energy received by the athlete, but this has not been proven.

Malat — consists of creatine and malic acid. Malate is highly soluble in water, does not cause stomach pain when taken. Some athletes claim that such creatine provides more endurance than monohydrate. These properties are not confirmed by relevant studies.

Tartrate — contains creatine and tartaric acid. A similar type of creatine is used to prepare solid forms of release (plates, tablets, tiles, capsules). Advantage — retains useful properties for a long time.

Magnesium — Composed of creatine and magnesium. Promotes faster absorption of creatine and recovery of the body after training.

Phosphate — contains creatine and phosphate. Although phosphate itself delays muscle fatigue, this form of creatine is rarely used today. Minus — worse digestibility compared to monohydrate.

Ethylester — consists of creatine and ether. It is believed that such creatine is well absorbed, provides a faster recovery, but studies have not confirmed any advantage of this drug over monohydrate. The disadvantage is the high cost.

Creatine Glutamine Taurine — in addition to creatine contains glutamine peptide and taurine. Theoretically, this type of creatine should be more easily and quickly delivered to muscle cells, and also retained in them longer. It is also believed that taurine is able to increase muscle strength.

Creatine HMB — contains creatine and HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylburate) and a metabolite of leucine. In theory, such creatine dissolves perfectly in water and is well absorbed, and is also less harmful to the digestive tract.

Titrate — consists of creatine and titrate, which ensures good dissolution in water. This form of creatine is believed to have high absorption characteristics.

Hydrochloride — a new form of creatine with high declared characteristics, which has not yet been proven.

Buffered (krealkalin) — consists of creatine and alkalis. Manufacturers claim that such creatine is the most effective due to chemical stability and does not cause side effects (bloating, cramps).

The effectiveness of buffered creatine has not been confirmed by practice. There is an opinion that it has a lower degree of assimilation than monohydrate.

Creatine monohydrate It is the most effective type of creatine, whose effectiveness is tested in practice and scientifically proven. The advantages of all other forms, as a rule, do not have a reliable evidence base and are more of a marketing ploy.

Creatine Complex

Creatine with transport system — contains creatine and various additives (BCAA, other amino acids, minerals, vitamins). It is believed that thanks to supplements, such a complex is absorbed much faster than «pure» creatine.

Creatine complex is presented in several forms.

  • Creatine + amino acids or protein — increases the concentration of creatine in the muscles. The combination with amino acids (they have less calories) is especially effective for people who want to lose weight. In addition, amino acids are absorbed faster.
  • Creatine + carbohydrates — increases the absorption of creatine by muscle cells and promotes the formation of muscle glycogen.
  • Creatine + taurine — it is believed that such a complex increases athletic performance, accelerates recovery after training.
  • Creatine + Vitamin E – According to some studies, it improves the absorption of creatine into muscle tissue.
  • Creatine + D-pinitol — has been little studied to date.
  • L-arginine — provides a rapid transfer of creatine to the muscles (improves blood circulation and increases insulin sensitivity).
  • L-glutamine — takes part in the metabolism of insulin.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid — improves metabolism.

In most cases, advertised creatine complexes are ineffective. At the same time, the price of such drugs due to various additives is quite high. The disadvantage is the relatively smaller amount of creatine itself in the dose size.

Experts recommend purchasing separately creatine monohydrate, glutamine, arginine, easily digestible carbohydrates and other supplements, which will save money. In addition, due to the separate time of administration and the possibility of changing dosages, the effectiveness of the drugs increases.

Creatine is taken with liquid (juice, gainer, protein shake, amino acids). Drink or stir this product to speed up the transport of creatine and neutralize dehydration (dehydration action). Remember that it is necessary to drink creatine not with sour, but with sweet juice, otherwise its absorption will slow down.

The absorption of creatine accelerates insulin. To improve the release of this compound in the body, athletes along with creatine take:

  • fast protein — 20-30 g;
  • fast carbohydrates — 10-20 g (sweet juice or water with sugar);
  • amino acids — 5-15 g.

The effectiveness of other transport systems has not yet been proven. On rest days, creatine is taken in the morning due to the high concentration of growth hormone, which favorably affects its transport.

Creatine complexes are also found, consisting of several forms of creatine (for example, malate, citrate, ethyl ester). Manufacturers claim that such a drug is absorbed much better than monohydrate, but there is no consensus on this. Such complexes may be of interest to experienced athletes (weightlifters, martial artists) rather than beginners.

Optimal dosage and intake

There are two regimens for taking creatine.

No download — 5-6 g per day after training. On training days, creatine is taken in combination with a gainer, protein shake, amino acids (at least 5 g) or juice. On rest days, creatine is taken in the morning in combination with any of the listed products, except for amino acids. The course is 2 months, the break between courses is 3-4 weeks.

Loading — in the first week, 5 g 4 times a day (during breaks between meals) in combination with a gainer, protein shake, amino acids (not less than 5 g) or juice. At the same time, on training days, one serving must be taken after training.

After 5-6 days, the dose is reduced to 2 g and taken 1 time per day in the morning (days of rest) or after training with the same products. Course — 1 month, break between courses — 3-4 weeks.

There is another point of view:

  • no download — 5 g in the morning and 5 g after training (training days), 5 g in the morning (days of rest), course of administration — 1 month, break — 1-2 weeks;
  • with loading — 5 g 4-5 times a day for 5 days, then 5-10 g per day.

Some athletes believe that it is necessary to take into account the weight of the trainee:

  • athlete’s weight x 0.3 — loading phase («loading» dose);
  • athlete’s weight x 0.03 — maintenance phase («maintenance» dose).

There is another formula:

  • athlete’s weight x 0.35 (4 times a day) — the first week;
  • athlete’s weight x 0.15 (2-3 times a day) — the second week.

At the same time, scientists have found that exceeding the daily dose of 5-7 g of creatine is meaningless, since the excess is excreted from the body (no more than 50 mg / kg is absorbed).

Schema takes creatine no download:

  • advantages: reduced consumption of the drug and reduced risk of side effects;
  • disadvantages: maximum effectiveness — after 1 month, less evidence base.

Schema takes creatine with loading:

  • advantages: faster results compared to the previous version, reliable evidence base;
  • disadvantages: the risk of side effects increases and the consumption of the drug increases.

Recently, studies have appeared that prove the same effectiveness of both creatine regimens. It turned out that after a month the results are evened out in athletes who took the product with a load and athletes who used it without a load.

Therefore, to date, the optimal solution is to take a supplement of 5 g per day for 10-15 days. After that, the dosage is reduced to 2-3 g per day or only during training. The loading phase and large doses of creatine are not cost effective and inefficient.

Important: the optimal dosage of creatine should be selected individually, taking into account body weight, training duration and other factors. Therefore, you should seek the advice of an experienced coach.

It is recommended to take creatine in between meals — so it is more convenient to combine it with transport systems (protein, fast carbohydrates, amino acids).

You should take creatine at the same time — this will allow the body to absorb the dose of the drug before taking a new one.

The optimal time for taking: after training for an hour, on rest days — at any time. But the creatine complex (creatine with a transport system) is recommended to be taken before training, since it contains substances necessary for strength exercises. However, this issue is resolved in each case in different ways, based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Release form

Powder — relatively cheap, quickly absorbed, allows you to measure the exact dose of the drug. Disadvantages: requires the preparation of a solution (it is not stored for more than an hour), provokes the occurrence of inflammation in the respiratory tract when taking a dry powder followed by drinking water. In addition, the powder is not very well absorbed.

Powdered creatine comes in two varieties.

  • finely ground — easy to take and does not cause a feeling of sand on the teeth. This is a good option in terms of value for money.
  • Micronized – high-quality creatine without taste and smell.

Capsules — easy to take, transport and store, easy to dose. This product is absorbed by the body almost 100%. Cons: Higher price, Fewer servings per pack, Slow absorption of creatine due to shell breakdown required.

Tablets – have all the advantages of a capsule form. Disadvantages: slow absorption compared to capsules, discomfort when swallowing for some people.

Tablets are of two types:

  • effervescent — chemically stable, perfectly soluble in water, highly digestible and in dissolved form retain properties longer than powder;
  • chewable — comfortable to take, but their effectiveness has not been proven.

Liquid — is absorbed more easily and faster than other forms, but not stable enough. So far, it is relatively uncommon.

An important characteristic of creatine is its chemical stability — resistance to the destructive effects of gastric juice. The more stable the drug, the more creatine will go to the muscles and the higher its effectiveness.

Servings

When choosing creatine, pay attention to the number of servings and the dose size (serving composition), which indicates the amount of creatine (mg) in one serving. There are drugs with a small amount of creatine in one serving, which increases their consumption. You should focus on a single or daily dose of an athlete, which is determined separately based on the regimens.

Package

Packaging affects the final cost of the drug, ease of use in transit and transportation. Economic packaging (jar and bag) usually has a large volume and weight. For comfortable use on the road, compact, and therefore small-capacity packaging (for example, stick, blister) is required. True, you will have to pay for a comfortable intake of the drug (in terms of one serving).

Taste

Creatine has no taste, but there are drugs on the market with the taste of grapefruit, orange, lemon, apple, fruit punch, watermelon and others. Flavoring additives will make taking creatine more enjoyable.

Side effects

Most experts agree that creatine is safe for the health of the athlete. Meanwhile, some side effects are possible. These include:

  • water retention — an increase in the amount of water in the body by 0.5-2 l;
  • dehydration of the body (dehydration) — negatively affects metabolism, acid-base balance, thermoregulation;
  • indigestion — expressed in nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain (often when taking large doses of creatine);
  • acne is rare.

Possible negative effects of creatine on people with kidney disease (development of renal failure). In this case, athletes should not take the product. In addition, the use of creatine is not desirable for people suffering from asthma and allergies.

Sometimes there are reports of convulsions and spasmsarising in connection with the intake of creatine, although no pattern was found. Possible causes of cramps are dehydration and increased stress on the muscles (due to increased strength).

Important: Do not reduce fluid intake and take diuretics when fighting water retention, as this will harm the body due to another side effect of creatine — dehydration. After stopping the use of creatine, a weight loss of 20-30% of the dialed indicator is observed. This is explained by the removal of accumulated water from the body.

To avoid the unpleasant consequences of dehydration, you should increase consumption liquids up to 3 liters per day.

To reduce the chance of digestive upsets, use quality supplements that have purified creatine. There is an opinion that to prevent this effect, it is advisable to take creatine in capsules, liquid form or micronized form.

Buffered creatine and ethyl ester do not differ from monohydrate in their effect on the intestines. Manufacturers recommend taking these forms in reduced doses. In this case, the frequency of side effects from the drug will decrease along with its effectiveness.

There is evidence that creatine malate and creatine citrate, due to their excellent solubility, have less effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

Before taking creatine, be sure to consult with your doctor about the safety and usefulness of taking it, as well as compatibility with medications (if necessary). The doctor will assist in the selection of dosage and regimen. During the course, monitor the reaction of the body: if side effects occur, consult a doctor immediately.

Selection Tips

  • Buy creatine from well-known brands and only in specialized stores. Remember that a fake will not give the desired effect and will harm your health.
  • High-quality creatine, which does not have additives, is odorless and practically tasteless. The presence of smell and taste indicates a violation of the manufacture and / or storage of the product. Creatine monohydrate does not completely dissolve in water.
  • Do not forget to check the integrity of the package and check the expiration date of the drug.
  • Read the instructions carefully before use.

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