Creatine - An Anti-Aging Supplement That Really Works
Creatine is one of very few performance enhancers that is backed by scientific research published in peer reviewed journals... lots of research! It is also the most popular sports supplement in the world, with sales exceeding $400 million (according to a recent report by the American College of Sports Medicine).
The primary benefits are strength and anaerobic power-related. Creatine is not beneficial for increasing endurance. Creatine is NOT a fat loss supplement, although it may help maintain strength and lean body mass during fat loss programs when loss of lean mass is an issue.
After using creatine, you often notice an increase in your strength or more repetitions in a low to medium rep set with the same weight.
Creatine is a safe supplement. The claims about creatine causing health problems and severe side effects have been laid to rest by numerous peer reviewed studies. If you have any pre-existing health issues, naturally you should check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, including starting on any supplements such as creatine.
Side effects are minor and few and the only ones that have been verified through research are occasional complaints such as GI distress and a gain in bodyweight (and the latter is usually a good thing, because it's lean tissue).
I'd recommend sticking with creatine monohydrate powder form, as that is the form most often researched and proven effective. Capsules are fine but not as cost effective.
Creatine can be mixed into a protein shake, or put in water/liquid, but then you should drink it immediately.
Liquid creatine is a scam; creatine is untstable if left in liquid for any prolonged period of time and that's why you dont see creatine drinks in the gym cooler (except for a few unscrupulous companies who claim they have stabilized it)
Creatine and sugar (dextrose/grape juice) has been shown to increase uptake of creatine due to the insulin spike. This is worth trying on weight gain/muscle gain programs, although it may not be wise on fat loss programs to add extra refined sugar (even in post workout feeding), because of the extra calories.
Creatine may be taken with meals or on an empty stomach, although if you are one of the few people who experience any GI distress, its better to take it with a meal. Creatine may be taken throughout the day and many people recommend making one of those servings be taken during your post workout period.
There is some debate about whether a "loading phase" is necessary, but based on the research, most experts still recommend the loading phase simply because loading saturates your tissues sooner. Creatine will work without loading, but it will take longer for you to start reaping the benefits.
Here is the recommended dosage:
4-5 tsp (20-25 g)/ day for 6 days for loading,
1-2 tsp (5-10 g per day thereafter for maintenance)
Experts also argue about whether you should "cycle" creatine (go on and off it). The research is mixed on this subject, but common sense dicatates that the body habituates to anything and it may increase results to use it in a cyclical fashion. For example; 12 weeks on, then go off for a month before going back on.
The vast majority of users report noticeable gains in strength and often subsequent increaes in lean body mass and body weight after using creatine, especially the first time. That was my experience -- a very noticeable strength gain with a minor lean weight gain--but I never got quite the same resutls again as I did the first time.
All things considered, creatine is not only an effective supplement, it is an outstanding anti-aging supplement because it can help maintain your strength and fight "sarcopenia", the muscle loss that naturally occurs with age ... unless you do something about it.
The Fit Over 40 E-book (www.fitover40.com) not only covers nutrition, training and the "excellence at any age" mindset, it also covers the subject of supplementation.
In Jon's chapter of Fit Over 40, his section, "Supplements 101", not only lists his top picks for supplements which can help improve your body composition and increase your performance, he also spills the beans on some little known supplements that could be VITAL to your health and longevity.
Fit Over 40 also features more than 50 men and women from the ages of 40 to 80 who reveal how they eat, think and train in order to look and feel 15-20 years younger than their chronological ages. Many of them not only explain their daily diets and menus, they also list their exact supplement programs.
It's quite fascinating to see what supplements these "Fit Over 40 Role Models" are *really* taking to help them stay so healthy, lean and young-looking when you compare it to some of the bogus junk that's being advertised in magazines, on the Internet and on TV.
If you don't have a copy of Fit Over 40 yet, you can grab one at www.fitover40.com.
Tom Venuto, CSCS, CPT
Co-author, Fit Over 40:
Role Models For Excellence At Any Age