The reason for this is simple - without loading the Creatine that is being ingested to the tune of 5 grams per day is also being utilized at nearly the same rate due to intense workouts. This makes reaching Super Saturation/Supra-Physiological levels very difficult.
With the loading phase of 7-10 days we are providing the body a lot more creatine than it can use even if you were to intensely workout 7 days a week. This creates a build-up leading to the much desired Super Saturation/Supra-Physiological levels that lead to ergogenesis.
I personally have tried both protocols but now firmly follow the loading phase every single time I get back to Creatine Supplementation with a gap of more than 2 months. The loading protocol involves taking 5 grams of creatine with 75 grams of dextrose on an empty stomach 4 times a day. The problem with this is the amount of Dextrose multiplies to unacceptable levels & WILL LEAD TO FAT GAIN. Most people getting fat on these kinds of protocols used to falsely accuse Creatine for causing Edema (Water Logging in the Subcutaneous Layer just under the skin).
This is rubbish because Creatine actually helps in the beneficial kind of water retention. It actually cell hydrates, or in other words, shuttles water and glucose into muscle cells, thus giving a fuller tighter appearance to skeletal muscle.
The bloated look was not due to Creatine but due to actual fat gain happening with the huge 75X4=300 grams of Dextrose per day for 7-10 days. I do have a solution to this.
We must also note that the 75 grams Dextrose needed for the insulin spike is not connected with the grammage of Creatine. This means that you would require 75 grams of Dextrose for that significant surge in Insulin, irrespective of whether you were taking 3 or 5 or 10 grams of Creatine.
Another factor to be considered is that Dextrose does not have to cause Fat gain if the sugar load is timed correctly with the bodies low glycogen level phases.
The correct way to take Creatine
Keeping the above in mind, I suggest the following:
20 grams a day loading phase for 7 days:
First Dose of the day:
10 grams of Creatine Monohydrate (CM) with 75 grams of Dextrose, first thing upon waking.
Second Dose of the day:
10 grams of Creatine Monohydrate (CM) with 75 grams of Dextrose immediately post workout. (On Non-Training days, ingest the 2nd dose around 5pm on an empty stomach as usually at 5pm, most people have a relatively empty stomach having taken their lunch at around 2pm)
Loading Phase from 8th Day till the 10th Day:
10 grams of Creatine Monohydrate (CM) with 75 grams of Dextrose only post workout. (On Non-Training days, ingest this one dose immediately upon waking.)
Maintenance Phase from the 11th day onwards:
5 grams of Creatine Monohydrate (CM) with 75 grams of Dextrose only post workout. (On Non-Training days, ingest this one dose immediately upon waking.)
To get the full benefit of Creatine supplementation, TAKE IT EVERYDAY. There is no need to cycle off Creatine, it can be taken year round. There is absolutely no shut down of the body’s own abilities to manufacture CP via any negative feedback loop.
Just in case budget is an issue, you could take a 4 week break after every 12 weeks on it. The super saturation levels will be maintained for a while if therapy is continuous for 12 weeks. Beyond 4 weeks the levels will decline & there will be a significant drop in performance. But if you can afford it then the prudent thing to do would be to take it year round.
On severely carb restricted diets geared towards Fat loss, you can shift to Creatine Ethyl Ester products. It has been seen that Creatine delivery & bio-availability in this form is good and does not require the dextrose mediated insulin spike. But on a gain I would any day prefer the cheaper & more thoroughly researched Creatine Monohydrate form.
A few key Pointers for Creatine Monohydrate Supplemental Usage:
The powder is white, crystalline, tasteless and odourless. Any taste or odour should make you suspect a degraded product.
Creatine is not very stable in water and, after a prolonged period, degrades to its inactive metabolite Creatinine. If you find the powder to be any less than free flowing or rather find it to be hard and lumpy, suspect it to be degraded.
Go for reputed brands that use SKW (Germany) Micronized Creatine Monohydrate. That is the gold standard when it comes to Creatine supplementation.
Reputed brands such as Optimum Nutrition ensure excellent packaging in Air-Tight jars that will not allow the product to be degraded by moisture.
Due to Creatine’s ability to get degraded in solution to Creatinine, DO NOT pre-mix the solution and keep it stored in a bottle for later consumption. Every Creatine Solution consumed must be freshly prepared & consumed immediately upon making the solution.
Micronized Creatine, although much better than regular Creatine, still isn’t very soluble. So, do not mix Creatine in Ice cold or refrigerated water. Always use water heated up to room temperature. Stir or shake vigorously for at least 15-20 seconds and then consume immediately.
Creatine will improve your performance on the gym floor & you will end up lifting heavier. But that also means more micro-trauma to the muscles, thus increasing the need for Protein. DO NOT EVEN THINK OF SPENDING ONCREATINE IF YOUR PROTEIN REQUIREMENT OF AT LEAST a minimum 2 grams per Kg Bodyweight is not met.
I want to reiterate that it is completely SAFE and has NO ADVERSE SIDE EFFECTS.
But consumption by beginners who are nowhere near comprehensive Motor Unit Recruitment & have sub-optimal Rate coding in their muscle fibers is a complete waste of money. A beginner sees huge increases in performance in the gyms purely on the basis of bettering his form & Technique. At this stage buying Creatine is a criminal waste of money.
Ergogenic Aids must only be taken by advanced strength enthusiasts or athletes who have already explored the limits of their performance. Only then will Creatine Monohydrate work.
I hope the above is a comprehensive guide on anything & everything that you needed to know about CREATINE MONOHYDRATE.
Executive Director NEULIFE
Co-founder & Director - K11 Fitness Academy