While creatine may have lost some its allure within the supplement world, it remains one of the most effective and safest (and let’s not forget, legal) performance-enhancing aids on the market.
The many research-proven benefits include accelerated recovery between sets and between workouts, increased strength, higher work capacity and greater strength endurance (through its ability to regenerate ATP – the primary energy source for short, intense muscle contractions), and it also aids muscle cell hydration and protects tissues against damage from free radicals.
Picking the right creatine product
Today there are numerous types of creatine available, such as kre-alkalyn creatine, creatine ester, creatine citrate, creatine malate and creatine HCL. These products have been manufactured to improve absorption or deliver a more concentrated form, but the additional processing and manufacturing steps add to the cost.
That’s why creatine monohydrate products, like Primal Nutrition Creatine 5000, remain the most effective and affordable form on the market. It’s basically creatine bound with water in an 88:12 ratio.
Different creatine dosing strategies
However, it isn’t just the products themselves that have evolved over the years. So too have the dosing strategies used to deliver the best response. There are two scientifically-validated ways to supplement with creatine.
The traditional ‘loading’ protocol: The approach was initially introduced based on research findings from a study aimed at proving creatine efficacy. This protocol includes a loading phase where up to 20g (roughly 0.3g/kg/day) is take over multiple doses for 5–7 days, followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5g (roughly 0.03g/kg/day) either for three weeks (if cycling) or indefinitely without additional loading phases.
The maintenance protocol: This newer approach suggests taking 3-10g of creatine per day for a period of up to two months with no loading phase. It is, however, recommended that you cycle your creatine consumption to reset your body’s response mechanisms to continue realising a benefit.
The best times to take your creatine
Whichever protocol you choose, it is ideal to split your intake into multiple daily doses and to mix your creatine monohydrate with your favourite protein-carbohydrate drink or with grape juice.
Following this doing protocol for optimal results:
One serving should be taken sometime before training to stock up reserves.
Take another dose after your session to replenish depleted stores.
Take a single serving before breakfast on non-training days.
The exact timing isn’t that important because your muscle cells can store creatine for use when it is required.
Don’t overdose on creatine
Keep in mind that creatine is also included in a variety of supplements such as pre-workouts and mass builders. If you don’t read labels and combine these products with your Primal Nutrition Creatine 5000, you could easily overdose.
If you consume multiple supplements that each contain a dose of creatine, make sure you add up all the dosages contained in each product to determine a total value, which shouldn’t exceed the recommended guidelines.
While there are no clinically-significant side effects associated with acute creatine over-supplementation, large doses have been known to cause gastrointestinal distress. Longer term overdosing could have more severe health consequences, though.