Archive for the tag - creatine

Why I Don’t Take A Pre-Workout Supplement!

Dear Davey,

I’ve seen a lot about pre-workout supplements and my nutrition store was giving out free samples. I wanted to hear what you think of them? Are they too good to be true?

From,
Dan

marc-fitt-2Especially if you’re feeling overworked or lacking energy, it may be tempting to reach for a pre-workout supplement. Many supplement stores will have countless options promising to give your workout the edge you need.

The first thing to remember is that pre-workout supplements are not regulated by the FDA. In some ways, these supplements are still the wild west – and the long-term impacts have yet to be evaluated. In other words, proceed with caution.

There are a few ingredients that you’ll typically find in pre-workout supplements:

  • Carbohydrate sources. We know that carbs give you energy, and that they’re an important part of any pre-workout meal. Having energy to power through your workout will help enhance your results. Of course, you need not get carbohydrates from a pre-workout supplement; a banana will do the trick.
  • Caffeine. The stimulating effects of caffeine are well documented – and some exercisers believe that caffeine gives their workout an edge. While moderate caffeine consumption isn’t necessarily dangerous, keep in mind consuming caffeine before an afternoon or evening workout may impede your sleep.
  • Creatine. Generally considered to be safe, creatine has been shown to increase muscle mass and add bulk. For some people, creatine has been associated with bloating and extra water weight. Regardless, anyone interested in creatine or its benefits can experiment with the supplement independently of a pre-work.
  • L-arginine. Helping to dilate your blood vessels, this amino acid can improve blood flow during exercise. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily healthy; some studies suggest that it increases oxidation stress and markers of aging.

As you can see, pre-workout supplements are an unregulated mixed bag of ingredients. For me, the risk isn’t worth the reward and I prefer a more holistic approach. If you eat a smart, balanced diet, there is little or no need for supplementation. And if you’re tired before exercise, listen to your body’s wisdom and change what’s causing your fatigue – rather than popping a pill or mixing a powder to treat the symptoms.

That’s my two cents.

Love,
Davey

P.S. If you want to transform the way you look and feel through the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.

Week 4: Final Thoughts About Creatine.

This week marks the fourth and final week of my month-long creatine experiment. Starting in early April, I started my first cycle with creatine, and alternated between 5 gram and 15 gram loads each week thereafter.

Creatine is a popular supplement that aids in muscle function. Contrary to popular belief, it’s neither a steroid nor illegal in collegiate, professional or Olympic sports. Creatine simply flushes the body’s muscles with water, and often results in strength and muscle mass gains.

Many claim that creatine results in a 10 pound weight gain within the first month. Though I’m sure there is a basis for this assertion, I experienced none of that; I am at the same weight today as I was on April 1. My body looks slightly different, though I’m currently leaning up for the filming of an upcoming fitness video. I don’t think much of the difference can be attributed to creatine so much as my modified diet. I had some minor strength gains at the gym, though I suspect I may have experienced those gains even without the creatine.

The bottom line is that I didn’t see or feel much of a transformation, even after trying some creatine tips and tricks. It doesn’t discount creatine or its potential, but it does put emphasis on the reality that all of our bodies, circumstances and situations are quite different. It stresses that importance of finding out what works best for you, and recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to health, nutrition and fitness.

If you are curious to try creatine, go for it! Your results will likely differ from mine. And so long as you are between the ages of 18 – 60, looking to increase your muscle mass or improve your strength, strength training regularly and don’t have kidney concerns, liver issues or diabetes, creatine may be a good fit for you.

No Results from Creatine? Try This.

Creatine: Worth the hype or much ado about nothing?

It’s three weeks into my ongoing trial with creatine, and I really haven’t seen much in terms of results.

In a nutshell, creatine is a popular supplement that helps with muscle function. It’s not a steroid, and it is legal in professional sports and the Olympics. To find out if you’re a good candidate for creatine, read last week’s post.

Last week, I reported that I had gained 3 pounds since starting my creatine regimen. Creatine-related weight gain is very common among first-time users, but the gain is mostly additional water that is flushed into your body’s muscles. It’s not fat, and doesn’t give a “pudgy” effect. This morning, I stepped on the scale only to discover that I’m back to my pre-creatine body weight of 158 pounds. Moreover, when I look in the mirror, I don’t look different – and at the very most, I feel only slightly stronger while exercising.

Creatine is touted as a powerful supplement that yields great, quick results. So what gives?

  1. Non-responders. As it turns out, a small number of people don’t respond to creatine supplements. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible that I fall into this category. Moreover, frequent meat eats (like myself) tend to see less dramatic results.
  2. Water. Water intake is key to the proper functioning of creatine. The benefits of creatine occur from the flushing of water to the body’s muscles – and so it’s crucial to drink more water than usual while on creatine. I’m going to up my water intake to see if it helps.
  3. Juice. Drinking creatine with a sugary drink delivers maximum results. The insulin spike created by the fast-acting carbs in sugary substances will allow for greater uptake of creatine within the muscle cells. I’ve been taking my creatine with a carb-rich power bar, but the carbs are admittedly slower to act than something like grape juice. Moving forward, I’m going to buy juice boxes to consume with my creatine.
  4. Powder. Creatine is available in a variety of forms including power, pills and liquid. It is generally recommended that fitness enthusiasts stick to powdered creatine. Pill forms are expensive, they absorb slowly and it’s harder to adjust the dosage size. Liquid creatine is less stable, and is not advised. I’ve been using powdered creatine – so it looks like I’m on the right track here.
  5. Dosage size and loading. This is something that each person will have to experiment for themselves. Daily dosage recommendations are anywhere from 2 grams to 20 or 30 grams. I’ve been using a technique called loading. I’ve been ingesting 5 grams on my “off” weeks and 15 grams on my “on” weeks. From the studies that I’ve read, it seems that loading yields quicker short-term results, but that both loading and a constant amount of creatine yield the same longer-term results. At any rate, I may have to do some longer-term adjusting to see if it impacts my results (or lack thereof).

It’s also worth noting that alcohol tends to damper the results of creatine. But as someone that doesn’t drink, this isn’t a factor for me.

So, for me, the creatine jury is still out. Many people are big believers in the supplement. But my personal experience has been that it’s much ado about nothing. Of course, this doesn’t discount the results that other people have experienced – and it doesn’t mean that creatine won’t help you. I will try modifying my creatine regime with the above recommendations, and keep you posted on the progress.

Davey Wavey’s Second Week With Creatine.

After 2 weeks of creatine, I haven't experienced any dramatic changes.

Yesterday marked the end of my 2nd week using creatine. Last week, I shared some information about creatine and spoke about my experience. Just to recap, creatine is a popular supplement that aids in muscle function. It’s not a steroid, and it is legal in professional sports and the Olympics.

Creatine may be a good fit for people:

  • Between the ages of 18 – 60 and who
  • Are looking to increase muscle mass or improve strength and who
  • Exercise regularly with free weights and/or machines and who
  • Have no kidney concerns, issues with the liver or diabetes.

People who use creatine generally make use of cycles called loading. In periods lasting 5 – 7 days, creatine users alternate between low doses of creatine (1 teaspoon or 5 grams) and higher doses (as much as 4 teaspoons or 20 grams).

For my first week, I consumed 5 grams of creatine powder per day. I wanted to start slow to get a better handle on the effects it might cause. This past week marked my first cycle of loading with 15 grams per day.

To be honest, I don’t feel very different.

Creatine flushes the muscles with water, and most people experience a substantial water weight gain when first starting out. I have noticed that I’m more thirsty than normal… but my weight gain – so far – has been only about 3 pounds. It’s worth noting that the gain caused by creatine isn’t fat, it’s just additional water in your muscles.

I have felt slightly more powerful at the gym. Of course, psychological factors are hugely influential, and it’s possible that the creatine is causing something of a placebo effect. Regardless, I was able to progress to higher weights with some exercises, and/or perform an extra rep or two in a few instances. I was expecting dramatic changes with creatine, but for me, it appears to be more of a minor boost. Like the effect you’d get working out after a good night’s sleep.

Of course, it could be because I’m a meat eater. Meat is rich with creatine, and so the bodies of meat eaters are usually already accustomed to higher creatine levels. Vegetarians and vegans usually experience more substantial results while using creatine.

Nonetheless, it’s only been two weeks! And I’ll continue my creatine experiment for at least another two weeks. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

In the meantime, feel free to ask questions in the comments below!

Creatine Trial Week 1: Everything You Need to Know.

It's important to have a complete understanding of creatine before deciding if it's right for you.

There’s a lot of information – and misinformation – about the supplement known as creatine.

I’m very careful about any supplements or medications that I take, and I refuse to ingest anything without fully understanding its function and consequences. So when I became curious to try creatine, I knew I’d have to dig deeper.

Turns out, creatine is one of the most popular and researched supplements available. In a nutshell, creatine is involved in making the energy your muscles need to work. For most people, taking additional creatine enables you to lift heavier weights or complete additional repetitions – which, in turn, builds additional muscle.

The biggest misconception is that creatine is a steroid. It’s not. In fact, it’s allowed in professional sports, the Olympics and the NCAA. Creatine is a chemical that is manufactured by the body – and it is naturally consumed through meat and fish.

Moreover, creatine is generally safe. It’s possibly unsafe for people with existing kidney or liver concerns or diabetes, though more research in this particular area is needed. Creatine is less effective for older populations over 60, and it should be avoided by people ages 18 and under as additional research is needed to determine safety in younger populations. As with many things, ingesting massive amounts of creatine may be dangerous, so consume it responsibly.

Creatine is probably a good fit for people:

  • Between the ages of 18 – 60 and who
  • Are looking to increase muscle mass or improve strength and who
  • Exercise regularly with free weights and/or machines and who
  • Have no kidney concerns, issues with the liver or diabetes.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor or health professional before trying a new supplement like creatine.

After doing my research, I decided to give creatine a try – and to document the experience here. As carnivores tend to see less dramatic results from creatine (creatine is found in meat), I wasn’t really sure what to expect. One thing seems quite certain: Most creatine users see a dramatic increase in their weight – and it usually happens fast. Many articles claim 10 pounds of weight gain in the first few weeks of use – though most of the initial gain is additional water weight in the muscles (for this reason, it’s especially important to stay hydrated while on creatine). It’s not fat – and it doesn’t make you look flabby, etc.

Creatine is usually taken in cycles called “loads” or “loading”. For the first 5 – 7 days, people take as much as 20 grams (or 4 teaspoons). And then for the next 5 – 7 days, they take 5 grams (or 1 teaspoon). After a few cycles, people generally come off creatine. A few weeks later, they may start up again depending on their individual goals.

To be cautious, I spent my first week taking just 5 grams. I wanted to see how I felt, and how my body reacted. More than 7 days later, I haven’t really noticed many changes. My weight is fairly steady – though I may be a pound or two heavier according to the scale… but that could be anything. I did feel a bit stronger at the gym, and was able to increase my weights on a few exercises. Nothing dramatic or unusual, though.

For week 2, I’ll try my first loading of 15 grams per day (I’m weary to try the full 20!), and I’ll let you know how it goes.

I plan to continue the cycle through week 4, and probably come off the creatine for good. It’s more an experiment and learning experience than anything else – getting much bigger isn’t a goal of mine. But I’ll keep you posted on the results!

Have you ever tried creatine? If you have, share your experience in the comments below.