Creatine use as a product that can enhance muscle cell energy production becomes obvious when you look at the re-synthesis of different types of creatine.
There’s a regulating enzyme known as creatine kinase that breaks down creatine, separating the phosphate molecule from the creatine molecule. Phosphate then binds with ADP, which lacks just one phosphate from becoming ATP. So basically your body can “manufacture” fresh ATP through this process, which can take up to 4-5 minutes. Don’t many bodybuilding programs require at least a few minutes rest?
“THE MORE CREATINE AVAILABLE, THE MORE THAT CAN ULTIMATELY BE USED FOR ENERGY, ALLOWING YOU TO TRAIN HARDER AND LONGER.”
So, what’s the bottom line? Well, the more creatine available, the more that can ultimately be used for energy, allowing you to train harder and longer which, in turn, can lead to better results, be it improved performance, more muscle, more strength.
What else does it do? It acts as a “volumizer” or “cell expansion” product by pulling water into the muscle cell, causing it to expand, resulting in a increase in muscle size and strength. This is a big category right now, largely due to NO products, but creatine was really the first product to cause this effect.
Some say that this is temporary and you lose your size when you go off. To a point this is true, but it’s also true for pretty much all aspects of bodybuilding, isn’t it? If you cut back on protein, you risk losing size, when you go off your steroid or pro hormone cycle, you lose size, when you stop training, you lose size. You don’t lose everything (this is also true for all aspects of bodybuilding) but you will lose something.
Regardless, most people will cycle creatine, taking 4-6 week breaks. Once you go back on, you gain everything back and more.
Here’s some of the types of creatine out there, potential side effects and how to use them (this list is not all inclusive, as there are new versions being added all the time):
The original – this version requires sugar be ingested with it in order for it to be properly absorbed, a loading phase of 4-5 doses (typically 5 grams per dose) per day for up to 5 days and once a day thereafter. Some side effects were reported in some users.
Requires less total grams to be effective, no sugar needed and no loading. This version, as is the case with most newer versions, eliminates the monohydrate effects. Available as a pill or powder, you usually take one serving (usually 2-3 grams) twice a day.
Tri-creatine malate is a compound made from creatine monohydrate and malic acid. It’s made from three creatine molecules attached to one molecule of malic acid. Malic acid is involved in the Krebs energy cycle as an intermediate substance, and helps to provide energy to the body.
When malic acid and creatine monohydrate form Tri-creatine malate, it becomes more water-soluble than regular creatine monohydrate, deals with the side effect of gastric discomfort, and is more efficient at impacting the ATP cycle. Tri-creatine malate is also believed to offer greater bioavailability over regular creatine monohydrate.
Here’s a current hot one, also known as Kre-Alkalyn. This version actually has a patent on it; #6,399,631. The research on this ties into creatine’s speed to convert to creatinine. Creatinine is a waste byproduct of creatine, it’s usually produced at a fairly constant rate, gets filtered through the kidneys and passes out in the urine.
The advertising behind this product talks about creatine converting quickly to creatinine when mixed in liquid (many creatine products encourage drinking their powder within 10 minutes of mixing for this reason).
The research behind this product indicates that as the pH of creatine rises, conversion to creatinine slows. At a pH of 12, it stops altogether. So, this version solves that problem, requires less total creatine per serving, removes any potential gastric discomfort. With this product, you use 1-2 grams in the morning and again before training.
“TO MAXIMIZE RESULTS OF MICRONIZED CREATINE, YOU SHOULD DRINK 8 TO 10 GLASSES (8 OZ) OF WATER A DAY.”
This version produces smaller particles than regular creatine powder; the primary purpose is improved absorption and more complete mixing of the product.
A serving size is 5 grams; you mix one heaping teaspoon into 8 oz of juice or water and drink right away. To maximize results, you should drink 8 to 10 glasses (8 oz) of water a day. There is a loading phase similar to monohydrate, as follows:
Not as popular as it once was, this type of creatine’s biggest complaint is the lack of stability in this form. I agree with this and don’t typically recommend this version.
Here we have perhaps the hottest creatine product currently on the market, Con-Cret by Promera. Most newer versions of creatine deal with a few basic issues concerning standard monohydrate: absorption, dosing levels, and removal of side effects. This product is a concentrated creatine, requiring a “micro-dose” of 1/4 teaspoon. Here again, you have superior absorption, no side effects, and less total creatine required.
It should be noted that you can take creatine before and even after workouts, some people drink it before and during the workout. Taken after, you still want your post-workout shake of fast digesting protein and fast digesting carbs but I would let a bit of time elapse before you drink it.
So, do any of these “new, improved” versions really work that much better than the standard monohydrate? Well, while I have not used all versions, I myself see no real difference among versions.
If, like me, you don’t mind loading and don’t see any side effects from monohydrate, you should find that this version still works as well as anything. However, by all means test out the different versions and see what you think, they work well too. From a cost effective standpoint, however, straight monohydrate powder is extremely economical.