Attention: if you’re ready to add a new tool to your fat-burning tool-box, try creatine. It’s a non-drug alternative that really works. It is one of the most important natural supplements available for exercisers because of its ability to extend endurance and coax the body into producing hard, firm muscle. Creatine is produced naturally in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas – at the rate of about 1 to 2 grams a day – from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Most of your body’s creatine is de-livered to the muscles, heart, and other body cells. Inside muscle cells, creatine helps produce and circulate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecular fuel that powers muscular contractions.
Creatine is also found naturally in red meat. About 2 ½ pounds of raw steak yields roughly the equivalent of a single 5-gram dose of creatine.Creatine is available from Parrillo Performance as Parrillo Creatine Monohydrate™. Through supplementation, you can build the volume of creatine in your muscle cells. There, creatine increases levels of a high-energy compoundcalled creatine phosphate, which serves as a tiny fuel supply, enough for several seconds of action.Creatine phosphate also allows more rapid production of ATP. The more ATP that is available to muscle cells, the longer, harder, and more powerfully you can work out.
Thus, creatine monohydrate can indirectly help you lose body fat, since longer, more intense workouts help incinerate fat and build lean muscle. The more muscle you have, the more efficient your body is at using energy and burning fat. Many creatine supplementation studies have shown gains in lean body mass, averaging 2 to 6 pounds, usually within several weeks of use. It can work fast too – in as little as one week. A study conducted at the Pennsylvania State University Center for Sports Medicine demonstrated the immediacy of creatine’s power. The researchers recruited 14 weight-trained men and divided them into a creatine group and a pla-cebo group. Both groups performed bench presses and a jump-squat exercise in three different sessions, each separated by 6 days. Prior to the first session, neither group received any supplements. During the period leading up to the second session, both groups took placebos.
Then, prior to the third session, the creatine group took 25 grams of creatine monohydrate a day, and the placebo group took a 25-gram placebo. All the participants were asked to follow their normal diets and keep food records during the study.With this well-designed experimental situation, the researchers could easily observe and measure any changes due to supplementation. What happened was quite remarkable. In just a week, the creatine takers gained an average of 3 pounds of muscle. As for their strength, it went through the roof. The creatine takers upped their reps significantly on the bench press and could perform more jump squats. Those in the placebo group didn’t fare as well in either performance or muscle gain. Creatine increases muscle size because it attracts water. Creatine is absorbed into the muscle cell and pulls a lot of water along with it, causing the muscle to swell. This results in larger, firmer muscles and a better pump. Please realize that creatine itself does not directly increase muscle protein. As with all supplements, it is vital that you use creatine in conjunction with asolid bodybuilding diet.
You need protein to build muscle tissue and carbohydrates to provide energy. Creatine itself is not burned to produce energy, rather it acts as an energy buffer to transfer the energy derived from car-bohydrate and fat oxidation to ATP. Creatine is not incorporated into protein. It will, however, indirectly increase the protein mass of muscles over time by allowing you to perform higher intensity workouts. That is, of course, if you are eating enough lean protein and quality calories to support muscle gains.What can you expect from creatine? Typically, hard-training bodybuilders can expect an increase of 4-14 pounds of lean mass during the first month of use. The more muscle mass you have, the more creatine you can assimilateleading to greater weight gains. We’ve seen athletes experience a 5-15% increase in strength on their maximum lifts and an increase of about 2 reps per set with their working weight during the first month. This increase in intensity allows you to put a greater load on the muscle, which will indeed increase your gains in muscle mass over time.
Endurance athletes can experi-ence a 5-10% increase in speed and a 10-20% increase in time to fatigue.Increasing the levels of creatine and creatine phosphate in your muscles gives them another fuel source besides glycogen from carbohydrates. The question is: how much creatine do you need? To start, we recommend for the first one to two weeks you use 20-30 grams each day, divided into even servings of 5 grams each taken with each meal or with a Hi-Protein™/Pro-Carb™ or 50/50 Plus™ drink. This is the loading phase. Use the lower end of these recommendations if you’re in the 150-200 pound range and the upper end if you’re over 200 pounds. We recommend one to two weeks, but the loading phase can last up to four weeks in some individuals. After this, 5-10 grams a day should be sufficient to maintain elevated muscle stores of creatine. It takes approximately 4-8 weeks to deplete creatine stores after you stop taking it.To support muscle growth, Parrillo Creatine Monohydrate™ works best with a nutritious diet that supplies ample calories, as outlined in the Parrillo Nutrition Program. Remember, creatine itself has little impact on gaining muscle when taken alone.
The building blocks (amino acids) and extra calories must also be present in the muscle for serious gains to be made. Most people will see a significant increase in size and strength when using creatine, but a lot of this depends on the amount of protein and quality calories you are eating. If you don’t eat enough to support muscle gain, you won’t see any, it’s that simple.Weight gain resulting from creatine supplementation may happen during the first month when you’re loading the muscle cells with creatine. You will experience an immediate gain in strength at the outset because of the increased leverage advantage from the increased water gain as well as the creatine phosphate stores. At some point the creatine pool becomes saturated and the muscle can’t hold any more. So you can expect a very rapid and dramatic gain in lean mass (muscle + water) for the first month, but after that creatine supplementation is mainly maintenance. Remember, proper nutrition from food, increased calories and nutrients from supplements and intense training are the keys to packing on more lean muscle month after month, year after year.
By using creatine you can improve the intensity and duration of your training for better overall workouts. And when you add to this proper nutrition, which includes plenty of high quality protein and increased calories, you’ll be right on track to gain one pound of lean mass each week. Are there any medical concerns with taking creatine? Creatine is nontoxic even when taken in huge doses. The only known side effect is stomach upset if you take too much at once. Five to ten grams shouldn’t bother you. If you take 30 grams at once you might feel stomach cramps or nausea, but usually not. Excess creatine is converted into creatinine (note the similar spelling) and excreted in the urine. If you take too much creatine you’ll just lose the excess in your urine. If you have any blood work done you might find that creatine elevates your creatinine level. Doctors use the creatinine level in the blood as an index of kidney function. If your doctor notices an increase in your creatinine level and expresses someconcern about your kidneys, tell him or her that you’re using creatine. Creatine does not damage the kidneys in any way, but is contraindicated if you have pre-existing severe kidney disease (for example, renal dialysis or kidney transplant patients).
People with severe kidney disease have trouble eliminating creatinine, and creatine supplementation would increase creatinine levels further. In summary, creatine has been shown in placebo controlled clinical trials to improve exercise performance, both in terms of power output and endurance (1-6). We know from our work here that it increases lean body mass as well. Creatine is stored in the muscle and does not contribute to fat stores. Any weight you gain on creatine will be in the lean compartment. We’ve seen many athletes experience dramatic gains in muscle size and strength during their first month of creatine use. And when you look for a good creatine supplement, make sure it is 100% pure, like our Parrillo Creatine Monohydrate™ supplement. Make sure to look at the nutrient content on the label and not just the price when you’re considering which creatine supplement to take. Parrillo Creatine Monohydrate™ is one more nutritional tool to help you push your physique and performance envelope.
1. Maughan RJ. Creatine supplementation and exercise performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition 5: 94-101, 1995.
2. Greenhaff PL. Creatine and its application as an ergogenic aid. International Journal of Sport Nutrition 5: S100-S110, 1995.
3. Crim MC, Munro HN. Proteins and Amino Acids. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease 8: 9-10, 1994.
4. Greenhaff PL, Casey A, Short AH, Harris AC, Soderlund K, and Hultman E. Influence of oral creatine supplementation on muscle torque during repeated bouts of maximal voluntary exercise in man. Clin. Sci. 84: 565-571, 1993.
5. Harris RC, Viru M, GreenhaffPL, and Haltman E. The effect of oral creatine supplementation on running performance during maximal short term exercise in man. J. Physiol. 467: 74P, 1993.
6. Ernest CP, Snell PG, Mitchell TL, Rodriguez R, and Almada AL. Effect of creatine monohydrate on peak anaerobic power, capacity, and fatigue index. Med. Sci. Sports. Exerc. 26:S39, 1994.