Creatine monohydrate is a very commonly used sports supplement in the modern world of athletics. Some claim that users are cheating, while others remark that it is perfectly natural.

Creatine is a naturally occuring substance that is already found in the muscles of the body, in certain levels, and is used to help turn adenosine diphosphate (ADP) into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Whenever muscles are used, the ATP is broken down into ADP and miscellaneous phosphates. As frequently occurs in the world of chemistry, the breakdown of a molecule causes a release of energy, which is used to power the muscle. Unfortunately, the human body only stores about 10-15 seconds worth of ATP at maximum exertion, and the ADP will not help in the creation of more energy. This is where creatine steps in. Creatine combines with natural phosphates in the muscles to form Creatine-Phosphate, then releases its phosphates back into the ADP to re-create ATP. This process is rather speedy, and occurs in the middle of a weight lifting routine.

So, how does extra creatine assist in the process? Well, the average human contains about 3.5 grams of creatine per kilogram of muscle. However, the body has potential to store up to 5 grams of creatine per kilogram of muscle. In other words, we have the ability to process approximately 35% more ATP than our bodies' status quo. Creatine also assists in the use of water in the ADP/ATP cycle, making the muscles "bulkier".

Dangers of creatine: To be quite honest, the dangers of using creatine in recommended doses have been so far shown to be nil. As with any substance, however, abuse can have serious side-effects. Dehydration, cramps, are only examples of some of the complications to the overdose.

To take creatine, most places will recommend doses of 25 grams per day, for six weeks, then 10 grams per day for two weeks, and repeat the cycle. However, I believe that this is entirely buckis. The improvement gains for a 25 gram user will increase much more readily than the 5 gram user, but over a period of three months, the 25 gram user plateaus meanwhile the 5 gram user continues to gain, showing consistantly better results in the weeks to follow. Not only that, but the 5 gram user has extra cash in the wallet, since creatine is not cheap.

My recommendation is to take 5 grams (a heaping teaspoon) full of creatine each day, stirred up in some lemonade or orange juice. This way, the extra grit of the creatine is not noticable, and you get the extra Vitamin C your body wants anyway. Creatine can be a very safe, and very effective supplement that speeds the increase of muscle mass, and recovery time.

The cramping side-effect is not necessarily a symptom of overdose; sudden and occasionally persistent cramping can occur well within the bounds of the recommended dosage.

The only danger I see in the risk of creatine usage is this cramping; creatine users should be advised to avoid treadmills, or to at the very least be wary of them.

The cramping that is associated with the loading phase of creatine use, is primarily due to dehydration. If you drink at least 4 liters of water each day while loading creatine you will avoid the cramping.

Creatine causes the muscle cells to hold water, pulling the Creatine into the cells. This extracts water from the body, causing the dehydration. It is also why your muslces appear larger and the reason for the water weight gain that one experiences while taking creatine.

Loading creatine is not essential but it does maximize the efficiency of your creatine phase. However, the body can only metabolize a small amount of the 20grams a day that one needs to ingest to load, so you wind up pissing the majority of your costly creatine away.

It is best to take creatine (5-10 grams) immediately after working out with a simple sugar (maltodextrin is best) and a protein such as whey isolate. Then drink 8 ounces of orange juice after 30 minutes. The maltodextrin will cause an insulin spike that shuttles the creatine to your blood stream. The orange juice taken 30 minutes later will cause an additional isulin spike that shuttles the creatine into your muscle cells

The only form of creatine that is useful is creatine monohydrate in powder form. Creatine is not stable in solution and has been shown to break down into its byproduct within minutes of mixing with water. Creatine serum, creatine pills, creatine tablets are all a waste of money.

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