Creatine is one of the few supplements that have stood the test of time. It has remained a dominant performance enhancing agent (in a very ompetitive marketplace) throughout the last 10 years. Whereas, other supplements have come and gone, creatine remains a staple in most every competitive bodybuilder’s arsenal of muscle-building ammunition.
Why is it that this compound is so desirable and so effective in helping the bodybuilder in his daily assault on achieving increased muscle mass? From a biochemical standpoint, creatine has a two-fold effect on influencing muscle gains. First, it has proven to be one of the most powerful natural volumizing agents on the market. By exerting a volumizing or “swelling” effect on the muscle cells, creatine enables the muscle cells to grow at a much more efficient rate. As fluid enters the cells, a tremendously anabolic environment is created by virtue of all the stretch being placed on the fibrous connective-tissue sheath (or fascia) surrounding the muscle. Muscles that are volumized, and that have a continuous stretch being placed on their fascial sheaths, are destined to be anabolically “primed” muscles (i.e. muscles that are more likely to grow in response to training and proper nutrient intake). Secondly, creatine has proven energy buffering effects on intracellular ATP levels (thus giving the muscle cell a much greater resource of potential energy). ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the energy source that all cells use to perform work. In the case of muscle cells, ATP is what enables the muscles to perform their daily gym duties. It is interesting to note, ATP never runs out (except when you’re dead) due to the energy buffering effects of a high-energy compound known as creatine phosphate. As creatine enters the muscle cell (facilitated by the hormone insulin) or is synthesized (de novo), the enzyme CPK (creatine phosphokinase) transforms into creatine phosphate.
Creatine phosphate then chemically “donates” its phosphate group to aid in the regeneration of ATP. Ultimately, the more creatine that is loaded into the muscle cell, the more ATP that is available to fuel muscle cell contractions. As I stated above, creatine requires a carrier hormone to facilitate its entry into the muscle cell. Insulin (the blood sugar-regulating hormone) is also the hormone responsible for enabling creatine to enter the cell. In the absence of insulin, creatine will not reach its target tissue and thus will not exert its muscle-potentiating effects.
Many supplement companies have taken this important fact and have designed creatine formulations that contain astronomical amounts of simple sugars under the guise that, without these sugars, creatine could not be properly absorbed. It is because of these sugar-laced creatine formulations that many users are getting too much insulin release and are gaining significant amounts of unwanted body fat. Likewise, individuals who are currently dieting on low carbohydrate diets are unable to utilize these sugarlaced creatine products. Not only is it ridiculous to take in so many simple sugars with a single 5gram dose of creatine, it is also extremely moronic to pay somuch money for a supplement that is essentially “KOOL AID”. Add your own sugar to pure creatine to stimulate such an intense insulin release.
New dogma suggests that a better way to stimulate an adequate insulin response and thus absorb creatine is to combine creatine with insulinotropic (insulin-stimulating) amino acids such as 4-hydroxyisoleucine. 4-Hydroxyisoleucine increases glucose-induced insulin release through a direct effect on isolated islets of Langerhan cells found within the pancreas. Because 4- hydroxyisoleucine is itself an amino acid, it will not dramatically disrupt blood sugar levels thus finally providing a viable option for pre-contest bodybuilders who wish to add creatine to their daily supplement regimen. When considering what kinds of creatine to consume, one must bevery aware of the fact that, in order for creatine to be absorbed through the intestinal mucosa, it must first dissolve in the intestinal fluids.
Many granulated creatine formulations dissolve very poorly in liquids and thus cause intestinal distress for the user. Keep in mind that creatine draws fluid wherever it may travel; therefore, if creatine never gets absorbed into the bloodstream and thus sits in the colon, fluid is going to diffuse into the colon (following the creatine) and cause severe diarrhea. Anyone who has previously experienced this uncomfortable dilemma will gain great pleasure from the discovery that micronized creatine (creatine granules that are pulverized into a fine dust) is very rapidly dissolved in a liquid medium and thus helps to facilitate creatine absorption into the bloodstream and thus into the muscle cell. My suggestion to all potential creatine users is to purchase a micronized creatine formulation that utilizes amino-acid-based insulin potentiators like 4-hydroxyisoleucine.