About Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most popular supplements used by people looking to build lean muscle mass, maximize performance and increase strength.
Creatine is similar to protein in that it is a nitrogen-containing compound, but is not a true protein. In the nutritional biochemistry world it is known as a “non-protein” nitrogen. It can be obtained in the food we eat (typically meat and fish) or formed endogenously (in the body) from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine.
The tremendous numbers of investigations conducted with positive results from Creatine Monohydrate supplementation concludes that it is the most effective nutritional supplement available today for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and building lean mass.
Creatine Monohydrate effects
Creatine is a key player in the phosphagen energy system, the primary source of ATP (the main energy substrate in our body) during short-term, high intensity activities. Creatine exists as both free form creatine and phosphocreatine in the body. Phosphocreatine (PC) functions as a “storehouse for highenergy phosphate”2.
PC functions to replenish ATP in muscles that are rapidly contracting by transferring a phosphate group to the ADP that was formed from the hydrolysis of ATP for energy in the contracting muscle. When our muscles run out of creatine, our short-term, high intensity energy system shuts down and our muscles are no longer able to produce force.
The use of creatine as an ergogenic aid is based upon the theory that one can increase the saturation of creatine in the muscle through supplementation. Increased creatine in the muscle will increase performance in short, high intensity exercise by increasing the capacity of our phosphagen system.
There are several well substantiated benefits to creatine monohydrate including:
- Increase in Muscle Creatine Levels
In order for creatine to be effective, you need to see increased levels of creatine in skeletal muscle. 10-40% increases in muscle creatine and PC stores have been observed with creatine supplementation with usage that involved ingesting roughly .3 g/kg/day for between 5 and 7 days (roughly 20 grams a day in 5 gram increments) and 3-5 g/day following the first 5-7 day period.
- Increase in Power & Performance
Creatine supplementation appears to be the most effective legal nutritional supplement currently available in regards to improving anaerobic capacity and lean body mass (LBM). In both the short term and long-term, creatine supplementation appears to enhance the overall quality of training, leading to 5 to 15% greater gains in strength and performance. In addition, nearly all studies indicate that “proper” CM supplementation increases body mass by about 1 to 2 kg in the first week of loading.
Creatine Monohydrate administration
The entire goal of creatine supplementation is to saturate muscles stores with creatine. This can be achieve in several different ways but it appears that an initial loading protocol followed by sustained dosages is the optimal way to quickly reach and maintain saturation levels. Such a protocol would look like the following: ingesting roughly .3 g/kg/day for between 5 and 7 days (roughly 20 grams a day in 5 gram increments) and 3-5 g/day following the first 5-7 day period.
Creatine Monohydrate side effects
The only clinically reported side effect of creatine supplementation is weight gain (due to increases in intra-cellular water concentration), which typically, is a goal of creatine users. There does appear to be some anecdotal evidence that creatine supplementation can result in some GI distress when taking excessively large doses (20+ grams). Taking it with enough water and or switching to a higher quality brand will usually remedy this side effect.