Well, one holiday down, one even bigger one to go.  I have been receiving a bunch of current intrigue from a few of my training clients regarding different supplements as we sell a plethora of them here at X-Factor Fitness in Highland and you never know what may end up filling your stocking this Friday morning. Now if you do a simple google search on nearly any supplement you can really think of, you will get a massive amount of results from nearly every broscience expert out there telling you what to do and how to do it and every little bit of false science to back their claims for “GAINS!”. Now that’s a massive heap of junk to sift through in order to find any help, so I’m here to help break down the mad science behind some of it. SO, let’s call this episode number one in an infinite part series I’m gonna call Screaming at Supplements.

Yep, cause I know that’s how the most of us treat things we eat or drink anymore.

Just remember if it has electrolytes, we’re all good.

Once, again, I digress.

Now one of the most argued and confusing supplements out there, that is extremely misunderstood, is Creatine. Amzingly enough, creatine is one of the best supplements out there for individuals looking to build some strength and size, and is one of the only supplements out there with very strong research out there backing it up. Creatine is a naturally occuring substance that cells use for energy. Now most broscience experts will tell you to take creatine to bulk up, and that it makes you stronger and look bigger. Here is where we can start to debunk some myths and unclutter the confusion. So lets look at some basic (ok I lied) a bit more advanced science.

SO in the body, our cells use a substance calle adenosine triphopshate for energy. ATP for short. What happens is that the cell breaks off an inorganic Phosphate from the ATP, which in return releases energy that the cell can use. Now, ATP is a finite substance, as we cannot create energy from from nothing, but we also cannot destroy energy either. So what happens is that the ATP gets broken down into adenosine diphosphate and an inorganic phosphate (ADP and Pi). Now here is the cool part, once the ATP is broken down and the enrgy is released, its done, we really can’t get anything else in the wya of energy from ADP, but we can add that inorganic phosphate back onto the ADP and boom! we can gain back that ATP to use for energy.

Well, here is where the Creatine comes in. Creatine is found in the body as creatine phosphate. Now as you’d expect, if we knock off that phosphate, once again we get a release of energy. That release of energy, amazingly, is enough to reconnect The phosphate from Creatine Phosphate onto ADP, which creates ATP.

 

Awesome right?

Well here is were supplementation of creatine becomes a cool thing. Creatine is a finite substance, and only so much can be used before we start to run out. This is going to happen during strenuous, high intensity, yet short term exercise (metabolic systems is a whole separate lecture….). So think sprints, heavy weight lifting, all out exercise for very short periods of time (less than a minute). So the thoughts behind creatine supplementation is that we can increase the amount of creatine stored in the muscle, which can then help us last longer during exercise. Think of it as increasing the size of the fuel tank in your car.

Now lets look at some of the extra confusing aspects to Creatine. The biggest thing most people think is that creatine works like a steroid and helps to get you bigger and stronger. Well yes, creatine can help you get stronger and bigger as we can now use some extra energy to potentially pump out a few extra reps. Which in return will stress the muscle more and yield better gains in strength and muscular size. But once again we have to put in the work for this to happen, and we aren’t adding in hormones or anything crazy. As for weight gain, creatine works very osmotically, and actaully helps pull water into the cell, which in return is an added weight gain and helps make you look larger. Now if you don’t put in the time iun the gym, that’s about all you will get from creatine supplementation, water weight gain. However, added water to the muscle has also been shown to help aid in protein synthesis, therefore we are helping rebuild the muscle at the same time at a potentially increased efficiency.

Lastly, how should you use creatine or what is the recommended dosages? Most creatine requires a loading phase which is normally 3-7 days and can vary greatly depending on what type of research you read. The important aspect that has been proven for most creatine usage is to add it into some sort of carbohydrate rich beverage or snack that is not high in fructose base, (ie not gatorade or fruit juices), as a high carbohydrate meal allows for an increase in insulin response which aids in pulling creatine into the muscle. after a loading phase, creatine levels can be controlled by 2-3 grams of creatine supplementation per day.