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  CREATINE - fact or fiction???
What it is
What it does
Does it work?
How to get it
How do I use it?
Side effects
What did it do for me?

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What is is

Creatine is a naturally occurring metabolite found in the red muscle tissue. It is a powerful ergogenic aid that plays an important role in energizing the muscle.

What is does

Creatine Phosphate is used by the body to recycle ADP into ATP. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is stored in the mitochondria of muscle cells and produces energy when converted into ADP. Therefore, muscle fatigue occurs when the supply of ATP runs low. Creatine Monohydrate helps the body to convert ADP to ATP thus providing more energy to the muscles. Creatine Monohydrate allows for more intense lifting because the muscle tissue is less susceptible to fatigue. It is also buffers the build-up of the lactic acid that naturally occurs when the body performs anaerobic metabolic function.

Does it work?

Yes it does! Athletes in Britain have been tested while utilizing Creatine Monohydrate. The study found that there was a 20-30% increase in Creatine Phosphate in the muscle tissue.

How to get it

Creatine is available from retail chains like GNC or through fitness centers, however prepare to pay a premium if you go this route. I paid $45 for enough creatine to last approx. a month(250 grams).  The more economical method is to buy it from the net. I was able to get 1000 grams for approx. the same price.   For some of the internet sites that sell creatine check out the links section of this document.

How to use it

Suggested Use Instructions: Research indicates that there are two phases for maximizing the benefits of creatine. The first phase is creatine-loading. The second phase is maintenance:

Days 1 through 5:
Take one teaspoon (about 5 grams), 4 to 6 times daily mixed in water, milk, or you favorite sports drink. This will rapidly maximize Creatine levels in the skeletal muscle. I have read that taking it with a citrus type of juice can negate the effects of the creatine.

Creatine Maintenance:
Day 6 and beyond:
To maintain creatine levels: Take one teaspoon (5 grams) daily mixed in water or fruit juice.

NOTE: Do not let dry creatine and liquid mixture stand for more than 15 minutes.

I have also read recommendations of using creatine for a month and then taking a week off.  Then follow the loading and maintenance schedule for a month, take a week off, etc...

It is also very important to drink 64 oz. of water a day while on creatine supplementation.

Side Effects

Some people swear by Creatine. As a matter of fact the way I heard about Creatine was through an interview done with several of the Denver Bronco's players whom swore by it.  I have also heard of negative side effects such as cramping and muscle pulls.  This generally is due to a lack of fluid intake.

What it did for me

April 98
I have 3 main athletic activities I participate in and was hoping creatine would help me perform better in all 3. Those activities are weight lifting, volleyball and running. When I first started taking creatine I didn't notice much of a difference in strength or performance for the first week to two weeks except that I was gaining weight. I assume that this is due to creatine causing muscle tissue to hold more water.  When I started out my bench press was stuck at approx 235 lbs max, the most I had ever done was 245 lbs and that was years ago. After approx 2 weeks things started to happen. I felt stronger, the weight felt lighter and I could do more weight. I maxed out at 275lbs. I have gained approx 7-8 lbs of body weight. I enjoyed similar results in my volleyball performance.  My jump was noticeably better, my energy level was higher, my arm felt livelier and I could once again dunk a volleyball which I hadn't been able to do all winter. My running results were a mixed bag.  I am trying to get in shape to run a 10k and reading about creatine I found that it is not very helpful in long term endurance activities. However in my training runs I did again feel like I had more energy, however my legs did experience a weird sensation of tightness.   Not to the point of cramping but just tight. My fianc´┐Że thinks most of the results are a placebo effect, my mind pushing me to new levels of performance and that may be partially true, but the results for me were appreciable enough that I would recommend it to anyone looking to expand their current level of physical performance.  I will update my performance improvements here!

September 98

I hurt my knee in May and stopped using Creatine for the majority of the summer. My strength stayed for about a month and a half after I had stopped but then it started to slowly decline. Not to the point where I had started but my max bench went down to around 250-255.  I started up again in late August and recently maxed out at 270 lbs on the bench. I plan to train hard through the winter and see how high I can push my max. There has been alot in the news about Creatine over the past few months and it all seems to say pretty much the same thing. It does increase performance levels but you need to be sensible about it.  Water intake is important to prevent cramping and it is unwise to exceed the recommended doses of creatine. Hopefully my next update will have my max creeping towards 300 lbs!

December 98

After another bizarre knee problem that has had me laid up since Thanksgiving and an unexplained trip to the hospital to have a suspected kidney problem checked (which came up negative) I have gone off creatine and will more than likely stay off.  Although I am not sure if the knee and other problems were related , I know I did not have the issues pre-creatine.  The strength gains are obvious, however I would caution if you participate in sports that require alot of high speed movement to be aware of any unusual symptoms that may occur such as joint problems, or muscle strains. My creatine experiment for now has ended.  If I did nothing but be a gym rat then having the flexibility would not be an issue but playing volleyball is a big part of my life and these injuries have made it not much fun lately. :) 

July 01

Hmm 3 years, how is that for a long time with no updates?  I have stayed off creatine and have returned to levels of strength as before I started. :(  Right now doing a 235 bench would be a feat.  I have had 2 knee surgeries since the last update.  My right knee is a mess.  I can play volleyball once a week now if things are good.  I will never know if the creatine contributed to the original injury that sparked my series of problems but I am wary to give it a try.  My body weight is way down from my creatine days.  At my bench max I probably weighed between 200-205 lbs.  Now I tip the scales closer to 185.  I'm not sure if I like being bulkier (stronger) and less defined or leaner and meaner.  It seems the older I get (I am 33 now) the more problems I have with my joints.  Benching heavy always seems to reward me with various pains in my shoulders or elbows. Getting old sux.  If I hurt my knee to the point where I can't play volleyball anymore I will probably dip back into the world of creatine to get my strength levels back up.

July 03

Haha another 2 years has flown by.  I'm still creatine free.  My weight is still between 185-190.  But I have stepped up the intensity of my training.  My bench max is back to about 250. Not bad considering my weight and my build. (lanky)  I eat better and regularly have a protein shake daily during the week.  I would love to hit my creatine strength levels naturally. I don't know if that is doable but I will give it a try.  My numbers at almost every exercise are the best they have ever been, so considering I am on the downside of my 30's, I can't complain.  One other daily supplement I take is flax seed oil.  It has dozens of benefits.  The most noticeable one I noticed was my joints, especially my knees. They feel better than they have in a loooong time.

May 04

I've continued with my increased intensity exercise program.  A few months back I was able to squeeze out a 265 pound bench.  I was quite happy to be able to do that 5 years older and non-creatine assisted.  However right now about 250 is probably my max.  During volleyball season I don't concentrate on much with going super heavy because it can affect my ability to play. Heavy maxes seem to lead to sore joints.  I continue to use Flaxseed oil daily and would strongly advise for anyone to use it if they want to feel better.  It tastes terrible but it certainly helps.  My knees are holding up better than they have for half a decade.  As I age it takes more work to maintain my current fitness level.  I now try to mix up my routine significantly every month to keep my body from getting too used to a routine.  I also continue to slowly modify my diet, cutting certain things out here and there in order to assist with staying in shape.  Being closer to 40 than 30 is a scary thing for me, staying in shape is my effort to combat it the best that I can.  No creatine necessary currently.


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