Sports supplements used to be popular among professional athletes, but nowadays they can be found at every level of sport. Creatine is a safe product that has been extensively tested and has amply proven itself both in practice and within science. The effectiveness of creatine depends, among other things, on the use and timing of the intake.
What can creatine do for you?
Creatine is particularly effective for short-term intensive efforts of monohydrate powder that last no longer than 30 seconds. It is an intermediate in the energy supply of, among other things, the muscles. Creatine is not on the doping list and occurs naturally in the human body. In addition to the supplements you can also get it from different food sources such as meat and fish. Not everyone reacts identically to this ‘natural doping’. There are plenty of athletes who do not benefit from it. Those who benefit from it see their strength increase by about 7%. Moreover, it has a positive effect on the recovery of endurance athletes as well as strength athletes.
The intake of creatine normally has a charging and maintenance phase. After a loading phase, you can maintain the increased creatine levels in the muscle with a maintenance dose, up to 6 weeks. Since the body’s own production decreases by habituation after a few weeks, it is advisable to use creatine for a maximum of 6 consecutive weeks and then discontinue use for 4-6 weeks. However, it is questionable whether a charging phase is useful. A charging phase is recommended on almost all creatine pots, but there is no convincing evidence that a charging phase contributes to more muscle growth. Taking more creatine than the recommended amount makes no sense. The excess creatine is indeed excreted via the kidneys. From a commercial point of view, a charging phase is interesting for the manufacturers, but for an athlete it has no added value.
Advice on intake
There are different ways to take creatine. Not every method is equally effective. The advice to take it with fruit juice is a concrete example where scientific evidence is lacking. Creatine dissolves best in hot water. Intake with insufficient moisture has the disadvantage that insoluble powder ends up directly in the stomach and is hardly used. Simultaneous intake with carbohydrates seems to improve the absorption of creatine powder. In addition, it is advisable to take it throughout the day. The absorption of this substance may be inhibited by caffeine. There are indications that effort increases the absorption of creatine. The daily maintenance dose can therefore be best taken shortly after your training. In addition, creatine attracts moisture and this gives you, as an athlete, a more muscular and fuller appearance. The weight gain of 1-2 kg that occurs in a short period of time is therefore mainly due to extra fluid in the muscles.
Dosage of the charging phase
In the charging phase, your lean body mass will increase by an estimated 5% due to the increase in creatine in the muscles through the monohydrate powder. Since creatine also retains fluid, you will soon notice that your body weight increases by about 2%. Traditionally we know three different charging protocols, namely the most commonly used method is a protocol in which you take about 20-25 grams of creatine daily for 5 consecutive days, divided over 4/5 portions. This corresponds somewhat to 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight. This method also gives you the most chance of side effects. A less aggressive way of administering is to take 10 grams of creatine daily. This protocol lasts for 10 days. The least chance of side effects you have with a protocol in which you daily 0.3 grams per kilo of body weight. You keep this method for 4 weeks. This last method described, in which you do not need a charging stage, seems to be just as effective as the first described method in which an estimated 20 grams is supplied daily. The disadvantage is that you have to keep the protocol longer, but it can certainly benefit if you are susceptible to possible side effects. Another additional benefit is that the jar lasts longer.