Creatine is not a steroid and it does not need to be cycled. It is one of those supplements that works for some people and doesn’t work for others. According to data, 30% of the population are non responders. This means 30/100 people reading this article will not have the chance to experience creatine. For the other 70% I will explain what creatine is, the different types of creatine, my experience with it, loading phases and if it’s really worth buying.
What is creatine?
Creatine is a chemical found in the body and food that you eat (think big steaks and meat). It helps provide energy to the body, specifically muscle. It works by increasing ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which overall helps you get more repetitions in the gym. That is why many people find it to be so valuable. It also makes your muscles hold more water which can make them appear more full.
What are the different types of creatine?
There are currently 8 different types of Creatine: Monohydrate, Kre-Alkalyn, Ethyl Ester, Micronized Creatine, Tri-Creatine Malate, Buffered Creatine, Liquid Creatine and Conjugated Creatine. The biggest problem here is that creatine is one of the most popular supplements out there. As a result, there is profit to be made and many companies claim their specific product is better than the rest. The data shows that regardless of the form of creatine, you will get results. Creatine monohydrate is the most basic, and cheapest form of creatine. It is the best because it has had the most studies done on it, and it is proven to be effective. Other forms of creatine have been found to have no advantage over standard monohydrate. This is why I wholeheartedly recommend Monohydrate.
I would suggest that you stay away from Kre-Alkalyn Creatine. One of the big companies that makes it got caught a while back selling standard creatine monohydrate capsules in their product instead of what they advertised (Kre-Alkalyn capsules). Not only is Kre-Alkalyn more expensive but this company ripped people off and I would never trust them.
So Monohydrate is really the best?
Creatine Monohydrate is the form of creatine I recommend. If you really want to try another form of creatine you can try Micronized Creatine. Micronized creatine is creatine particles broken down into a smaller form, so it will absorb easier in the body.
I have tried it, I used Micronized Creatine powder by Optimum Nutrition and had decent results. Micronized creatine is usually made with the purest forms of creatine made by Creapure. It is a little more expensive so if you have the money to spend, go for it. However, creatine is most effective in the long run so it doesn’t really matter how quickly it gets into the body. I still recommend Creatine Monohydrate over all other forms.
My experience with creatine:
My first time taking creatine was at 15 years old, lifting 5 days a week when I was trying to get stronger for my high school football team. I read about all the hype and couldn’t wait to try it. I used standard Creatine Monohydrate powder by BodyTech at the time.
Before creatine I got 7-8 reps of 135lbs on the bench. After a week of supplementing with it at 5 grams a day, I went back in the gym for chest day. This time I got an amazing 16 reps with the same weight (135lbs). Even though I would’ve liked to believe it was just the creatine that did this, I highly doubt it. Creatine does increase ATP, which in turn does increase how many reps you can do before you tire out.
However, I think some of the progress was because I experienced beginner gains, where strength can go up really quickly. Also I believe there could’ve been a mental boost (placebo effect). I truly believed at the time that I was going to get huge from this supplement. Regardless, creatine did actually work for me and it might work for you too.
When I was 18 years old, I wanted to try dieting on creatine. I used Cell Tech powder by Muscle Tech for my little experiment. Cell Tech is full of sugar and it supposedly helps the creatine work better. I dieted for a month on creatine and lost 5 lbs, while maintaining my strength. So in case you wondered, yes it is possible to cut on creatine. However, I would recommend using it on a bulk because it will be more beneficial in the long run.
What are the side effects of creatine?
Back in 2009 when Creatine was becoming popular, you would hear fear mongering idiots say that creatine caused liver damage/failure, kidney stones, hair loss and heart problems. As creatine became more popular it was studied more frequently and these claims have been rebuked.
Creatine has been found to be completely safe at doses around 5 grams a day. The real side effects are water retention, bloating and muscle cramps. On creatine, it is advised that you drink more water than normal. Because of this many people go overboard and bring around a gallon milk jug everywhere they go.
For this reason, some people claim creatine doesn’t cause bloating, and instead it is all of the excess water people drink that causes the bloating. I tend to agree with that logic, however, I still do recommend drinking an extra glass or two of water than you normally do to prevent cramping.
Should I do a loading phase for creatine?
A loading phase is when someone takes around 20 grams of creatine for the first few days, with the goal of the creatine working faster. The problem with this is that it doesn’t matter how quickly creatine gets into your system. Creatine should be used long-term to see results. There is no need to do a loading phase because creatine won’t make you huge in the first week you use it anyway. Loading phases are simply not necessary, stick to 5 grams of creatine a day and you’ll see results that way. I’ve never done a loading phase because there really isn’t any point to it, especially when you’ll be on it for months anyway.
To wrap things up
Creatine is a great and popular supplement for the natural athlete. It has been proven to work and if you are a responder to creatine you will see the results.
What kind of results?
By now you know creatine is not a steroid and it won’t even come close to a steroid’s anabolic effects. That being said, creatine is cheap and you should buy Creatine Monohydrate powder in bulk. You’ll save money in the long run and it will be just as effective. Don’t expect to gain 10lbs in a month or add 100lbs on your bench. If that actually happens you are not taking just creatine. Creatine is what I’ll call, a mildly beneficial supplement for building muscle and strength. Stick to a dose of 5 grams per day and don’t give up on it too soon because it make take a while to notice the results.
Stay away from the shady, small companies that might catch your eye. Instead, buy from the bigger brands that have many reviews. This way you will be getting what you pay for and hopefully not getting ripped off. I heard about a few companies (who will remain nameless) that sell 20 servings of creatine powder for 50$. That is a huge ripoff and remember to compare prices of different products before making a decision.