Creatine is one of the most studied supplements in the sports world. It is sometimes described as the strongest legal drug, it would be a shame to miss it out of fear. Creatine is a natural product commonly found in meat, but not in big enough amounts. In order to the consume 20 grams of creatine you will have to eat 4 kg of meat.
There are several myths around creatine that might cause doubt about whether to use it or not. Those claims are often based on hunches and opinions, and far less on real scientific studies. The accusations are often incorrect or extrapolated. To end the common myths, here are some scientifically proven facts:
- Creatine is not on the doping list and it is legal for athletic use
- Creatine has been researched for long time and no risk of health was found, even in long term use
- Creatine supplementation doesn’t cause renal distress, cramping, dehydration or altered electrolyte status
To see fast results, it is recommended to first load your body with creatine. You do this by taking a daily 0.3g of creatine per kilogram body weight. To maximize absorption spread the intake throughout the day in dosages of 5g. After six days you switch to a maintenance dose of 3-5g per day. Dissolve creatine in water or a carbohydrate-containing beverage and take it before or after training. Do not exceed the recommended dose!
There are numerous types of creatine on the market, the most studied and most effective one is creatine monohydrate. Choose for products from well-known brands that guarantee that their products are doping free. You do not want to get caught on doping by taking cheaper and possibly contaminated products.
The effect of creatine depends strongly on the amount of creatine already in your body. Athletes with low creatine levels will benefit more from supplementation, this is often the case with people who eat little to no meat.
The main expected results are:
- Increase in strength
- Increase in fat free mass
- Increase in 1RM: The amount of weight that can be lifted once
A disadvantage in the use of creatine is weight gain, which in martial arts is not always desirable. The weight gain is due to additional muscle mass, but also to a certain degree of fluid retention. This water retention can be undone by stopping creatine supplementation for 4 weeks.
Read more about creatine in my book “Making Weight & Everything Else”