Creatine in my opinion is one of the most important and useful supplements to take if trying to gain muscle size. It is one of the mostly heavily researched supplements available and the one thing that scientists all agree on is that Creatine works!
What does it do?
If you want to understand Creatine’s roll in your training and physique you need to understand the Adenosine triphosphate – phosphocreatine system. Bear with me it’s not as complicated as it sounds…
The most immediate and simplest fuel source for muscle contraction is adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is an adenosine molecule with 3 phosphate molecules attached via high energy bonds (hence the name ‘tri’phoshate).
There is enough ATP available for 10-14 seconds of work (think of a sprinter running at top speed then fatiguing, this is an example of the ATP system being used only). Longer periods of exercise will utilise other energy systems which I will not discuss here. When the ATP molecule in your muscle is combined with water and acted on by other enzymes the last phosphate splits away releasing a large amount of energy from the bond.
So where does Creatine fit in?
A small amount of ATP is stored within the cells waiting for the signal to produce this energy but also within the cell is stored Phosphocreatine (also known as Creatine phosphate, getting interesting…). Put as simply as possible the Creatine phosphate donates its phosphate molecule to the ADP to recycle it back into ATP therefore increasing energy reserves.
Why take it, the benefits.
Creatine helps to provide this energy mainly to the type 2 fast twitch muscle fibres which are responsible for fast, explosive short bursts of exercise 10-14 seconds (how long does a set of heavy bicep curls last?) Having more Creatine present will allow you to squeeze out more reps and lift heavier weights.
Increased muscle size Cell volumisation
Creatine has a cell volumising effect by which it pulls water from the bloodstream into the muscle cells causing them to inflate giving you a more muscular look. Up to six pounds of body weight can be added in the first weeks of those beginning supplementation.
The increase in cell volume also speeds up recovery by pulling in the nutrients required for recovery, not only between sets of your workout but also recovery and repair after a workout through enhanced protein synthesis (your body using protein for growth and repair)
Which type is best?
When and how should I take it?
I would recommend taking Creatine monohydrate as it is the industry standard of Creatine supplements but if you already suffer from water retention CEE would likely be the best choice for you.
For maximum Creatine delivery to the muscle you would want insulin levels to be high so taking with a source of high glycaemic (GI) carbohydrates would be ideal. The best time to consume something high GI would be immediately after your workout so add your Creatine to your post workout shake or intra workout carbs. The Creatine will be stored in the muscle to be used during your next workout.