• How Creatine Can Help You Build Muscle

There are many different muscle-building supplements on the market today, but creatine is one of the most popular and effective supplements amongst body builders because of the many benefits that can help to improve your workout performance and muscular physique.

Creatine can boost your workout intensity, and therefore lead to better muscle development. So taking creatine as a pre-workout supplement may well allow you to squeeze out an extra rep or two that you wouldn't normally be able to without it.

But it shouldn't be looked at as some miracle worker that will suddenly make your workouts super-easy. Neither can it be used to replace meals of good quality protein and nutrients. You will still need to apply the same amount of hard work and determination to achieve your workout goals, as well as supply your body with adequate food, drink and rest.

However, all creatine is not created equal, and it can be tricky to know if you are taking the best form to suit your particular needs.

Creatine Monohydrate

This form of creatine is the most popular for use by athletes and bodybuilders. Monohydrate contains a high level of pure creatine, so is much more nutritionally valuable and effective when working out to build lean muscles.

Creatine monohydrate can help build muscle endurance, strength and mass. Reports from athletes show an average strength increase of 10% within the first couple of weeks of use, so the benefits of taking this supplement are quite fast acting.

Scientists have discovered no serious side effects from taking creatine monohydrate, however, there are risks that an overdose could result in liver or kidney dysfunction, but sticking to the recommended dosage will cause no harm. People with allergies should avoid taking creatine, but if in doubt it is worth talking with your doctor.

It is recommended to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body well hydrated as creatine monohydrate withholds water inside the muscle cells, and can lead to dehydration.

Micronized Creatine

If you have ever tried using creatine monohydrate, you will have noticed it does not mix well with water. Micronized creatine has had the creatine particles much reduced in size to make them much more soluble in water.

Maybe you are thinking that this is the only difference between the two versions, but this is not the only benefit. As the creatine is being supplied to the body in smaller particles it makes it easier for your body to digest and use. Therefore taking micronized creatine before your workout will let your body use it quicker and more effectively because it needs less breaking down to be usable. Your body can use it almost immediately.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

This form of creatine is more fat soluble than other forms, making it easier for the supplement to pass through cells directly into the muscles. For those people who chose to take creatine just before performing a workout, the ethyl ester makes the absorption more rapid. It is thought that this form of creatine is more utilized by the body, as it is more stable in stomach acid resulting in less creatine being wasted.

Creatine loading and dosage

Most creatines require a loading session where you take larger doses for a few days to enable your muscles to become saturated with creatine. The average intake during the loading days is around 20 grams. The maintenance stage follows where you will drop the daily dose down to a minimum, usually only around 5 grams.

The exact dosage guidelines will vary between different brands, so make sure you read the instructions thoroughly before you start cycling. It is also recommended that after cycling with creatine for a period of around four to six weeks you take a complete break from it.

While 5 grams per day is the perfect amount for most people, studies have shown that some people respond to loading and cycling and others do not so it's best to trial both methods and stick with whatever gives you the best results.

Boring disclaimer warning

This article was written by a Muscle Mayhem staff member. The information on this site is provided in good faith. Consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. All opinions expressed on this site are our own. Always seek professional advice before engaging in any physical activity or diet.