Creatine vs Glutamine - How Much Should I Take and When?
Alright, so it's decided, you want to try supplementing with creatine or glutamine but have no idea where to start.
How much should you take?
When should you take it?
All products should give you guidelines on how to get the best results with their supplement, but I can give you a few common dosages and instructions. These aren't strict guidelines, we all vary in size and shape, but you don't want to overdo it on the dosages. If you're over 225lbs, you'll probably want to use the higher-end dosages.
You can take these whenever you want really; it's just more efficient to take them at certain times.
Creatine Dosage Guidelines
It has been generally recommended that you go through a "loading phase" when starting to take creatine. You don't have to do this and there are actually studies that show there's not a huge benefit from loading up, and may put some extra stress on your kidneys. The argument for the need to use a loading phase is that you'll quickly make a lot of gains. The problem is that these gains usually level out to the same pace you'd be at if you started out with a "maintenance dosage", instead of loading.
It's really up to you but, if you want to "load up", in the first week you'll want to take around 5 grams, 4 times a day (20g/day). This is supposed to fill you up with creatine so that it's always readily available as you're supplementing. After the initial week you can take something like 5 to 10 grams a day and it'll sustain those higher levels of creatine for you. Just make sure to see what the supplement label recommends. I've taken creatine with and without the loading phase and still made great gains either way.
It's recommended to take creatine with high glycemic index carbs like fruit, fruit juices or starch. This will spike your insulin levels and give you a more enhanced uptake of the creatine. Just don't use citrus juice; it's supposed to break creatine down into creatinine, which is useless. Use at least 16 ounces ounces of whatever you choose to mix it with. You also shouldn't leave your creatine powder mixed up in your water or juice. Creatine is unstable in liquid and will eventually degrade down to.... you guessed it, creatinine. So I wouldn't leave it dissolved in liquid longer than a few hours.
So when should you take it?
I've heard it recommended for both before and after your workout, but which is better?
The argument for taking it prior to your workout is that you'll have it readily available as your muscles are looking for energy. But, your muscles may already be saturated enough with creatine to not need a dosage before your workout. If you're going to take it before your weight training workout, take 3 - 5 grams a half hour to 45 minutes before you exercise so your body has time to absorb it.
It's also said that your insulin levels are the highest after you workout, so that would make creatine absorption more efficient. This is why it's recommended to take your creatine after you lift. If you're going to take it after your weight training workout, take 3 - 5 grams a half hour to an hour after your workout to help restore reserves and limit muscle damage. If you want to take creatine after your cardio workout, take 5 grams an hour afterwards to enhance recovery.
If you choose to do the loading phase, you can take your creatine before and after your workout and take advantage of both sides of the argument. I usually took it after my workout though.
There's also talk of cycling your usage of creatine, so that your body doesn't get use to it. There are claims that after a while you won't see the same gains as you did when you first started taking creatine. So, it's been recommended that you take creatine for a month on and then a month off of it (or even two months on, two months off). Now, you don't have to do this but it can be a beneficial shock to your body, and it'll save you some money.
Now let's take a look at glutamine.
Glutamine Dosage Guidelines
It's often recommended that you take anywhere from 5 - 15 grams of glutamine a day. Five grams or more will support muscle growth and it will ensure that enough gets past your digestive system.
Now, if you're really stressing your body (bodybuilders), you can take more but you shouldn't go over 25 grams in a day. Taking much more than that would just make you feel sick to your stomach.
When should you take it?
The best time to take glutamine is right after your workout, so you can replenish your body stores and keep your body from becoming catabolic (breaking down muscle). Taking it right after your workout will speed up your recovery and increase protein synthesis.
You can take it an hour before your workout too, if you feel the need. It's also good to take it right before you go to bed; your body does most of its repairing as you sleep.
Each time you take glutamine you should take about 5 grams per dose. So, if you take it 3 times a day, you'll get 15 grams daily. And, if you feel the need, you can take a larger dose after your workout.
But make sure to keep your powder dry so that you don't run the risk of it turning into ammonia. So, just like with creatine, I wouldn't keep it mixed up in a drink; store it in a nice, dry place and mix it up as you need it. And there's no need to cycle your usage of glutamine; you can take it nonstop if you'd like, and can afford it.
Alright, so now you know:
- What creatine and glutamine are
- Some good sources for both
- The good and the bad of both
- How much to take of each and when
Now let's get into the real comparison.
Which one is better?
Which supplement is more worth your time and money?
Now, you don't have to trust my choice, but let's do a point-by-point comparison based on the facts.
© 2007 Ben Guinter