How much and when should you take creatine?

From time to time, especially while putting weight on in the winter season I take creatine. In my opinion the only proven supplement that is worth the money and works, at last for me.

Over the years I have heard a lot of stories about creatine and met quite a few people that had real problems with it. Well, for me it always worked in regards of building up strength.

For sure it will not build muscles, but the additional strength helps with it. The side effect is that you store quite a bit of water in the muscles. Your muscles will look full, but not defined.
Not a real problem for me as I only take creatine in the winter when I have a higher body fat percentage anyway.

So they are some questions around creatine for the beginner:

What does creatine?

Creatine causes fluid to flow from the surrounding tissues into skeletal muscle (Muscle Volumizing). This cellular water essentially follows creatine into skeletal muscle causing them to swell. During the first days of loading the amount of water retained by our muscles can be considerable, accounting for as much as 1-3 kilograms (~2-7 pounds) of added weight. Furthermore, since this process might deprive our remaining body tissues of necessary fluids, dehydration is a valid concern of creatine use.

How much creatine to take?

Back in the old days when creatine came on the market the was a loading scheme to start with it, in other words
you will take a high dose for a while and then go to a lower level for a while.

I am still using this technique and it seems that there a lot of other people doing this.

So in the first 2 weeks I take 4-5 times a day a table spoon of creatine monohydrate with some orange juice, make about 25 gramm.
When I started with creatine I tried 8 times a day with 40 gramm. This worked very well for me in younger years and I had a great pump
in the muscles, but one needs to be careful with the kidneys 😉  For some a high level of creatine means some gastric distress… Also some other side effects
might be possible: Nausea, Cramp possibly due to water retention (I can confirm this), Dizziness if excessive quantities taken, Diarrhoea

I usually control the max. intake with controling my urine flow. If the last bit of urine looks not clear anymore, I know that this is creatine and the body get rid of it.
In other words the storage in your muscles is full and you are flushing money down the toilet.

When the two weeks are over I reduce the creatine intake by 50%, this is called the Maintenance Phase. Some people add a Wash-out Phase where you do not take creatine for a while.

Have a look here for calculating your correct creatine dose http://www.gain-weight-muscle-fast.com/creatine-dose.html

When to supplement.

When taking it 4- 5 times a day you need to add it to your meals, as you should eat every 3 hours anyway. That is what I do or I put it simply in my whey protein shake.
Otherwise I have no preferences. Some say you should take it directly after workout with juice. Something that I do anyway with protein.

Is loading really necessary?

Good question. For me it works. But if you have gastric distress or problems with your kidneys, you should leave this out and start slowy.

Here some links I found on the topic with some more indepth information about creatine.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/koch1.htm
http://www.trulyhuge.com/creatinemonohydrateL14.html
http://www.creatinemonohydrate.net
http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/creatine-supplements-common-questions-answered.html

Let me know about your experience with creatine.

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