Creatine and weightlifting
January 19, 2004 10:48 PM   Subscribe

I have started to lift weights recently, and I was thinking about taking creatine supplements. Has anyone here used creatine? How has it worked for you? Any recommended method or particular brand?
posted by Quartermass to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
How dedicated are you? Do you plan on lifting for size/strength, or just for a bit of tone? If you're looking to get big or exceedingly strong, it's a great supplement; if not, don't bother. Any which way, I'd recommend *against* using creatine at first - you're gonna get amazing gains the first couple months. Creatine's great one you hit a plateau - it gives you the extra energy stores to power through when you otherwise would have to stop.
For example, the first time I really noticed the difference was doing curls. I used to *love* doing curls and experience would tell me on the first rep whether I was gonna make it through a set, or if I should drop the weight down immediately. The first time in the gym after the loading phase on creatine, I felt the "no way in hell" feeling in my arms on the second rep, but made it. And a third rep. And...all the way to nine.
Being able to move that many more plates can really build up more muscle. However, there are risks. I've nver personally had any adverse effects, but there are scare stories that came out years after i used the stuff(i.e. I never looked more into it). I've heard the recommendation that you use it for no more than a month at a time. You also have to keep pee-every-half-hour hydrated. And if you're gonna bother to buy the stuff (as far as I've heard it's all made by the same people anyway, just re-packaged), make sure you get enough protein to actually build the physical muscle.
posted by notsnot at 11:07 PM on January 19, 2004

Go here for all the info you'll need about creatine.

Take it post-workout, with a protein shake. The serums are garbage, use the powder.

A loading phase is not required. 5g/day should be adequate. You will gain water weight initially, but you will feel stronger during your workouts.
posted by pemulis at 11:34 PM on January 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

I've taken it off and on for years with good results. Noticeable gains in strength and decreases in recovery time. The only adverse side effect I have had, and I have had it every time I've used creatine, is diarrhea uh-uh-uh.
posted by vito90 at 5:40 AM on January 20, 2004

I've been using it for about two years now, and find that it does help me get past plateaus and also [seems] to have helped me gain some size and definition.

I agree with using powder; everything I've read about the serums has been negative. I use the simplest and most efficient powder form - creatine monohydrate - which also happens to be the cheapest.

Drink lots of water though, since it does dehydrate you!
posted by tr33hggr at 7:13 AM on January 20, 2004

My experience with creatine was a bit less positive than the other folks here, although they're correct in stating that observed energy levels go up and recovery time is lessened. You'll be able to push more weight and, generally speaking, will feel more capable going into each exercise. Whether these are partially accountable to perceived effects (think placebo) or actual results of the Creative supplement are uncertain.

It should be noted that the long-term effects of Creatine have yet to be established and, as such, one uses the substance with potential risk. There has been discussion of Creatine negatively affecting one's liver as well as purported links between consumption and acne, particularly along one's upper arms and back. I say that my experience with creatine was less than positive because I found that a link between Creatine and acne did exist. I don't pretend to speak for everyone and I certainly don't have the authority to make any sort of claim regarding Creatine. Nonetheless, in my experience with the supplement -- taking 5g creatine monohydrate daily -- my skin broke out a few weeks into taking Creatine. I found this peculiar, so I did a few searches on Google and saw that others had experienced similar 'results.' I promptly stopped taking Creatine and waited about a month for my back to heal before resuming consumption. Sure enough, a week into consumption and the acne returned. It's quite possible that the two are unrelated, but I find that unlikely. Still, further and more rigorous testing would be required and as I've said, this is just my experience and the reason I finally gave up on Creatine.

Other things to look out for: You'll very likely feel/look bloated from all the water that you'll need to consume daily to keep yourself hydrated. Incidentally, the chief reason that everyone notices increases in muscle mass so quickly while taking Creatine is that the supplement keeps muscles well-hydrated. In other words, your arms might appear bigger but the initial gain that you'll see is actually water weight. If you discontinue usage you'll undoubtedly notice a small drop in size. Energy will drop as well, but any strength gains you've made will remain (although the number of reps will likely drop).

These are just things to keep in mind when deciding. Once again, there haven't been any conclusive studies on the effects of Creatine (at least none that I'm aware of), so take everything that I've said with a grain of salt. You might find the following thread interesting, even if the truth of each comment is entirely open to debate.
posted by Raze2k at 9:26 AM on January 20, 2004

I am and ectomorph (thin - tough to put on mass) - creatine made a huge difference for me... both in strength and size - I highly recommend the stuff.

My girlfriends father grows gensing - and I've been taking a capsule of ground forest grown ginseng every morning... again highly recommended.
posted by specialk420 at 1:10 PM on January 20, 2004

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