Creatine Monohydrate: Frequently Asked Questions

In this Hub of "Frequently Asked Questions", we're going to take a look at the most popular sports nutrition supplement of the last two decades: Creatine Monohydrate. We're going to dispel some of the most popular myths about this supplement staple, and go beyond the hype to give you all the information you need to know if Creatine is right for you.

Anytime you discuss sports nutrition, and supplementation, it can quickly veer into a chemistry lesson, however, I do try to keep things simple enough for anyone to understand. So, without further ado, let's get started.

Q: "What Is Creatine Monohydrate?"

A: Without getting too technical, Creatine Monohydrate (Creatine) is a naturally occurring substance in humans (and all vertebrates) that supplies energy to our muscles by increasing the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). Believe it or not, yes, that was the "non-technical" version.

Q: "What Does Creatine Actually Do?"

A: I know I gave you the "textbook" explanation above, but what most people are looking for is a practical explanation. Supplementing with Creatine can help with the following:

  • Building lean muscle mass
  • Improve muscular hydration
  • Provide essential materials for muscular recovery
  • Increase muscular energy during and after workouts

Q: "How Do I Take Creatine?"

A: Creatine supplements come in two main forms; pill, and powder. While the creatine is essentially the same in either form, the dosing and protocols will be different for both. Here is a quick breakdown of the two:

Powder: Generally requires a "loading" and "maintenance" phase, and can be a little confusing beginners. Powders are sometimes considered to have a higher bio-availability than pill form, however this is a myth. Powders have a shorter cycle, in most cases 3-4 weeks.

Pills: Easier to take for beginners because of the set dosing. Pills can have a longer cycle (up to 90 days). Because of the delayed release nature of pills, there is no need for a loading phase in most cases.

Creatine Chemical Composition
Creatine Chemical Composition | Source

Q: "What Is 'Loading' And Cycling?"

A: When you take Creatine (or any other supplement aside from Protein), you need to cycle it. As I mentioned on my website: Weight Training Supplements For Beginners, your body is not only smart, it's efficient. When it sees that it has a steady supply of Creatine coming in every day, it will actually dial back, and in some cases, completely shut down it's own Creatine production to save energy.

Cycling simply means that take the supplement for a certain length of time, and then discontinue use for a while to prevent your body from shutting down it's natural production.

Loading refers to the first week - 10 days in a new cycle, in which dosages are increased dramatically (in most cases, double the normal) in order to create a large surplus of Creatine in your body. After this, you return to a regular, or "maintenance", dosage for the remainder of the cycle.

Bodybuilding.com Guide to Creatine Monohydrate

Q: "Are All Creatine Supplements The Same?"

A: A quick glance at the Creatine section in any Sports Nutrition Store (GNC, Vitamin World, Vitamin Shoppe, etc) will give you an idea of just how popular this supplement is. There are hundreds of varieties on the market, each claiming to be the "best" or "most effective". Well folks, here is the dirty little secret that the supplement companies don't want you to know: chemically, they're all the same.

Creatine has a specific chemical composition that, regardless of who makes it, never changes. To put it in perspective, bottled water, no mater who makes it, water is always H2O. It's the same with Creatine. The only differences are the "AFF's": Additives, Fillers, and Flavors.

Q: "Where Should I Buy My Creatine?"

A: I don't want this Hub to seem like a sales pitch, so I'm not going to tell you where you should buy your supplements. I will however advise you to avoid buying them "In Store". Sports Nutrition and Health Food Stores are ridiculously expensive in most cases.

For example, MuscleTech's Cell-Tech, the creatine I use, is $49.99 at my local GNC. I get it for $12 dollars less on Amazon, and it ships for free. Again, not to sound to "sales pitchey", but you can see what a big difference there is between "In Store" and "Online".

In Closing:

I really hope that this answered some of your basic questions about Creatine. If you have more questions, or if there is something that you would like me to cover in the future, feel free to leave me a comment below. This is also the point in the Hub where I invite you to Add/Like/Share this page, and follow me, so you can be the first to know when there is new material.

Till next time, have a great workout!

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