Let’s face it, creatine is everywhere in the fitness world. Try taking a look around your local GNC or health food store and you're probably gonna see bottles and bottles of creatine lined up on the shelves and displays.
Better yet, take a look at any fitness or muscle magazine and you're going to see pages upon pages of ads for creatine. Why? Because the stuff works, that’s why.
Creatine is the most popular fitness supplement ever created. The craze for creatine started back in the early 90's.
I vividly remember the Muscle Tech's "big 3", which was Meso Tech, Creatine ES 6000, and Hydroxycut. This combination revolutionized the way the supplement industry looked at creatine.
It’s no wonder that creatine is the most popular supplement because it does what it is supposed to do and that’s to provide you with enough short term energy to get that extra repetition or two, that you otherwise wouldn’t get. Really, who doesn’t want to be stronger? The stronger you get, the bigger your muscles will get, plain and simple.
However, as with most supplements, creatine is very misunderstood. Not only that, there are a lot of you out there who wonder “should I Be taking creatine?”. I think most of you out there know that creatine works. Now, I’m not going to get into the science or mechanics of creatine but instead look at the question of whether or not you should take creatine. If you are interested in knowing when and how (as well as the safety) of creatine, please see the page about creatine information here.
I think the first thing you have to ask yourself is whether or not you are in a position to start taking creatine. That is, has your training and diet been consistent for over 2 months? Not only that, has your training and diet been improving with each week? If your diet is lackluster, and your weight training is sporadic at best, than you're not ready for creatine and shouldn’t take it. Creatine can help work wonders, but only under the right conditions.
Let me give you a personal example. Every once in awhile, I’ll take a few months off, sometimes more. When I start back in the weight room again, I give my body about 2 months to adjust to my diet and weight training program. During this time, my body starts to grow again and with each passing week, I start to get stronger and stronger. It generally takes my body a few months to start to get back into shape. However, once I know my body is growing without supplements and my diet and training are consistent, I will introduce creatine.
It is at this time that my body will start to get really strong and grow. You see, creatine only helps to compound the effects of proper dieting and training. My diet and weight training program have created a very positive, anabolic environment and by adding creatine to my diet at the right times, the effects are compounded in such a way as to greatly enhance my strength.
Personally, this is the only way a supplement, such as creatine will work and the only time I suggest you take creatine. Taking creatine when your weight training and diet is poor, won’t work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran of weight training or a beginner to the weight room, the rules still apply. Poor eating habits combined with a poor or an inconsistent weight training program will produce poor results, no matter how much creatine you take.
What If I’m A Beginner - Should I Be Taking Creatine?
If you’re a beginner to weight training, I don’t recommend you start taking creatine. Your body hasn’t had time to get the feel for the weights. By that, I mean your body hasn’t had time to adjust to the balance of the weight. Weight training movements are very strange to the body and can be very awkward. I suggest that you get used to the weight training movements and allow your body time to get it’s balance with regards to the weight. Generally, two months will allow your body time enough to adjust to the weight - Provided you’ve been consistent with your weight training program.
Once you start feeling comfortable with the weights and you’ve been improving with each passing week, you might want to think about taking creatine (generally two months - may be longer depending on your progress).
What you should be doing is improving with each passing week from your weight training program without the use of any supplements. Only after you’ve adjusted to your weight training program should you start to take creatine.
However, your weight training program is only one half of the equation. Your diet is the other half and is just as important as your weight training program. Your diet must be consistent and must be on par before you even think about taking creatine. A poor diet will not be conducive to gaining strength and muscle mass and taking creatine when your diet is poor will be a waste of time and money. Get your diet on track and be consistent with if for at least 6 to 8 weeks before you even think of taking creatine.
Once you’ve been consistent with your diet and weight training program for at least 2 months, you might want to introduce creatine.
What About The Safety Of Creatine?
Creatine has been proven to be non toxic in nature. Studies to date, have not found any negative side effects with creatine supplementation. Personally, I have experienced some bloating and nausea when I take more than 15 grams at one sitting. Of course, this is too much to be taking at one time.
Having said that, a few words of caution. Since there is no documented evidence on any serious long term side effects associated with creatine use, you should use good judgement regarding your creatine use. Too much of anything will be bad for you, so remember, keep your creatine dosage to an acceptable level.
Is Creatine Expensive?
No, creatine is relatively cheap. You can get a bottle of creatine monohydrate for as little as 20 bucks at your local Walmart. Better yet, you can even get cheaper creatine at your local bulk food store for about 10 bucks.
I Want To Be 100% Natural Without Using Any Supplements
That’s fine. I’ll be the first to say that you don’t need supplements to get strong and build muscle mass. If you can be consistent with a proper diet and weight training program, you're going to grow. However, there might come a time when you hit a plateau in your training and may need a slight boost to your weight training efforts. Creatine can certainly help with that since it provides a boost of short term energy in order to get you over that “hump”.
Just remember, creatine is not a drug (steroid) or a hormone. Creatine is simply a protein and shouldn’t be confused with a hormone. Creatine is a dietary supplement and sold legally in stores across North America whereas, hormones are not. For more information about the safety and uses of creatine, go to building muscle 101's creatine information page here.
Creatine is the most important natural fuel-enhancing supplement yet to be discovered for strength trainers, athletes, and body builders. Although it was isolated over 160 years ago, it is now becoming one of the most popular supplements of all time. And, unlike a lot of other supplements currently on the market, creatine is backed up with extensive research. I’ve personally used creatine for over 13 years and have yet to experience and negative side effects. I’ve gotten positive results for the use of creatine and use it in my training program.
The decision to use creatine is totally up to you. The most important question is whether or not you are in the right position to start taking creatine. Taking creatine in the hopes that it will make you bigger and stronger without actually eating right properly and going to the gym, is not the answer. Creatine is only a supplement, and will only “assist” in attaining your physical goals.
All the best,
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