You should know by now that one of the most effective supplements you can add to your supplement arsenal is creatine.
For most guys and girls, creatine is guaranteed to deliver impressive gains in muscle growth, muscle strength, and even muscle endurance. And that is all backed by numerous research studies, not to mention tons of anecdotal reports by real men and women using creatine. But if that wasn't enough, research also has shown that creatine enhances cognitive function and memory, protects against brain injury and even provides a long list of of other health benefits such as helping in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and even depression, and can also aid cardiovascular health and even protect the skin from sun and oxidative damage! It truly is a wonder supplement.
Newer research now shows that creatine has even more unexpected benefits, such as preventing muscle loss during layoffs, decreasing blood sugar levels, and it may even help to prolong your life!
In one study, St. Francis Xavier University researchers immobilized one arm of subjects in a full-length cast for one week while they were given 5 grams of creatine four times per day. In the second part of the study, they immobilized the subjects' other arm while they took a placebo (5 grams of maltodextrin) four times per day. They reported that when the subjects received creatine they actually increased their arm muscle mass by 1%. Yet when they took the placebo, they lost 4% in arm muscle size. In addition, when they took creatine, they only lost 4% strength in the biceps and triceps, yet when they took the placebo they lost about 20% strength in the biceps and triceps.
In a second study, University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) researchers had subjects take either 10 grams of creatine per day or 10 grams of a placebo (dextrose) for three months while following an aerobic training program. The Brazilian researchers found that the subjects taking creatine had lower blood glucose (blood sugar) levels due to the creatine pulling more glucose out of the bloodstream and into muscle cells. This can help you gain more muscle size because glucose also pulls more water into the muscles. It can also help you train harder, as you'll have higher levels of stored glucose (glycogen) in your muscles. And it can help you burn more fat because you'll have less blood glucose, which means less glucose will be stored as fat.
And in yet another study, German researchers gave mice supplemental creatine in their diet or a plain diet without any supplemental creatine. They found that the mice receiving the creatine in their diet increased their lifespan by 10% more than the mice not receiving creatine!
Jim's Take-Home Message
If you're not already taking creatine, I urge you to do so to gain more muscle size, strength and endurance, lose body fat, enhance your brain function, protect your skin and even possibly help you live longer. Take 2-5 grams of creatine, depending on the form you use, with your pre and postworkout shakes within 30 minutes before and after training. You know that my favorite form is creatine hydrochloride (HCL), specifically the Con-Cret® patented form. On rest days take one dose of creatine with your morning meal. And yes, even during layoffs from the gym, continue taking one dose of creatine with your morning meal to help you better maintain your muscle size and strength.