Obstacle Training

Creatine Basics

Posted on: October 17th, 2011 by Brian No Comments


Creatine has become an extremely popular supplement for athletes as an effective way to enhance performance.  Because of its promise and popularity, creatine monohydrate has also become one of the most studied performance enhancing supplements available.  The general recommendation is that athletes take 5-10g of creatine a day, spacing it as 5g prior to working out and 5g after working out.

So what is creatine?

Creatine is a non-essential (meaning naturally produced in the body) compound that is found mostly in skeletal muscle.  While discovered in the 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the Soviets reported a link between supplementation and athletic performance.  When discovered in the 1800s, it was as a component of meat.  Creatine is found naturally in an omnivore’s diet but can also be enhanced via supplementation.  Furthermore, thankfully for the vegetarians among us, creatine is made by the body via L-arginine, glycine and L-methionine.

What does creatine do?

Via the phosphocreatine system in your body’s biology, creatine helps to synthesize ATP to meet the increased energy demands of working out.  ATP is basically the energy source muscles use during work-outs.  Taking creatine supplements increases the creatine phosphate level needed to replenish the ATP used while exercising.  Numerous studies have shown the positive benefits of using creatine supplements in building muscle, endurance, etc.  It is one of the more researched supplements simply because it is so popular.

How to choose which creatine to use

Creatine monohydrate is by far the most popular and well studied type of creatine.  Other types exist (creatine ethyl ester, creatine HCL, etc) and most creatine supplements are a blend, though you can buy the pure form if you end up preferring one over the other.  I have a few favorites that I bounce between depending on my economic status at the time as well as what might be promoted:

CreaPure  - this type is found in various brands (Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine, Cytosport Creatine, Prolab Creatine) and is all from the same German manufacturer – check out creapure.com for more information on the manufacturer.  I like this because the micronization keeps the creatine in suspension longer so you don’t end up with as much hugging the sides or in the bottom of your cup.  I mix the recommended amount with a bit of grape juice, since I know creatine’s uptake in the body is aided by sugar.

Con-cret – this is creatine HCL which is an ultra-potent type of creatine.  This is actually my favorite supplement, but because it is more expensive Con-cret is sometimes out of my reach financially.  Not only is the dosage a fraction of creatine monohydrate, it dissolves completely in water and doesn’t require any sugar to aid in the uptake.

CellMass – This is a blend of creatines, a creatine uptake enhancing formula and glutamine AKG.  I’ve long been a fan of Cell-Mass because it has what I’m looking for in supplements: easy to understand ingredients that have been proven effective.

Xyience NOX-CG3
– By far the best mix of products for someone who trains at night like I do.  NOX-CG3 contains a blend of creatines, arginine compounds, glutamine compounds and vitamins/minerals.  I like this mix because it is EXTREMELY difficult to find a good NO booster that doesn’t include a bunch of junk added to it (ex. caffeine, other ingredients that aren’t well studied).  It was off the market for a bit as Xyience went through a bankruptcy in 2008.  When that happened I stopped looking for it and was recently reintroduced.

Final Thoughts

My recommendation would be to check out the above items’ ingredients, along with prices and supplements you may be taking already for overlap, etc.  Review your choice with your physician for any “watch outs” as they could also tell if there might be any issues with medication you might be taking, etc. and go from there.

For more information about studies including creatine monohydrate, click here.

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