Let’s not mince words here: 90 percent of muscle building supplements are crap. All the supposed published scientific studies are based on junk science funded by the supplement industry itself. With that being said, creatine is actually one popular supplement that is legitimate. In fact, creatine increases testosterone, thus helping you achieve maximum output in the gym and reach your desired physique.
What Is Creatine?
Without going into a deep scientific explanation, creatine monohydrate is a substance produced naturally in the body and aids in the production of another naturally occurring substance known as Adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
ATP provides vital energy during muscle contractions and allows the body to perform short bouts of explosive movements. ATP is what allows a weight lifter to execute those heavy barbell squats and deadlifts.
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More creatine means more ATP; more ATP means getting in that extra repetition or two when your body is screaming no more. This, in turn, translates to optimal muscle stimulation and gains.
Creatine Raises Testosterone
In one study, men subjected to rigorous resistance training and administered creatine had higher T levels than from their original baseline. Additionally, they also had higher androgen levels than men who underwent the same training but took a placebo.
In another study conducted in South Africa, rugby players administered 20 grams of creatine monohydrate for seven days saw a 56 percent increase dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels.
Testosterone has far stronger androgenic properties when converted into DHT. Once a DHT hormone, it cannot convert into estrogen as is the potential case with regular testosterone.
Is Creatine Safe?
As long as you follow dosage recommendations, there is little risk associated with creatine use. This isn’t to say you won’t experience side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, unwanted symptoms may include:
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle strains and cramps
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Increased risk of heat-related illness, such as heat cramp or heat exhaustion
- Stress on the kidneys as a result of excess dosages
- Creatine not used by the muscles is converted into a waste product known as creatinine, which the organ has to work overtime to remove.
Remember, though, that creatine is produced naturally in the body, so there’s no reason to believe moderate dosages carry serious health implications.
In a 2003 long-term study, football players were given five grams of creatine each day over a 21-month period. The athletes did not exhibit any ill-effects and in fact had fewer episodes muscle pulls and cramps compared to their non-creatine-using counterparts.
In another study in 2005 consisting of 200 subjects who consumed 10 grams a day, results showed no significant health differences compared to a placebo group.
How to Increase Creatine Levels
Creatine is found naturally in most meat products, such as beef, poultry, pork and fish. Organ meat is especially chockfull of the stuff. Keep in mind, however, that creatine breaks down under high temperatures, so it’s best to aim for meats that can be safely consumed raw.
Fish is especially a good creatine source since it’s one of the few meat sources that can be eaten without having to be cooked first. Herring and tuna are two good sources. Avoid canned fish since those are normally cooked during the manufacturing process. You can buy fresh and pre-cut fish in most Asian supermarkets. They’re often labeled as sashimi.
Creatine in Supplement Form
Some health enthusiasts are purists and shun anything that comes in the form of a pill or powder. Yes, it’s true that most supplements will do nothing other than flatten your wallet. Creatine, however, is certainly an exception. It’s also a lot more convenient to acquire creatine in this manner rather than stuffing your fridge with raw fish.
Unlike most other supplements, plain creatine monohydrate is also inexpensive. In most supplement stores, a 1,000-gram container of creatine usually costs no more than $20. An average daily serving is about five grams.
This means that a single bottle will last you a little over six months. That, right there, is one hell of a bargain.
How to Take a Creatine Supplement
When taking a creatine supplement for the first time, you have to begin with a loading phase. For the first five to seven days, take 20-grams per day. Spread the dosage out and preferably take it with a meal. After the loading phase, you can continue on with a maintenance phase of five to ten grams each day.
Creatine is best blended in with a beverage like juice or milk. You can mix it with plain water if you wish, though you’ll have to fight the urge not to gag. While at it, you also need to drink plenty of water. Creatine increases muscle fullness by driving water into the tissue. This puts you at risk of dehydration, so get used to filling your belly with good ol’ H2O.
The Best Type of Creatine Supplement
The old adage “you get what you pay for” is simply not true with respect to creatine. Plain creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and also the best. This needs to be pointed out because supplement companies in their snake oil-like demeanor have released different and more expensive versions of creatine that supposedly deliver superior results.
If you keep up with bodybuilding, then you likely heard of the supplement company Muscle-Tech and its flagship product Cell-Tech. According to Muscle-Tech, Cell-Tech provides superior absorption through the use of special ingredient blends.
Keep in mind, though, that those “special ingredients” are nothing more than sugar and dextrose. You can easily save money by adding those ingredients yourself, though you shouldn’t because sugar is flat-out unhealthy and also a major testosterone killer.
Cell-Tech isn’t the only culprit. There are dozens of other “enhanced” creatine supplements where the manufacturer claims to have developed its own patented formula for superior results.
Other creatine variations include:
- Creatine citrate
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Creatine kre-alkalyn
- Creatine serum
- Effervescent creatine
As mentioned, regular creatine monohydrate typically doesn’t cost more than $20 for a 1000-gram bottle. Any price way above that, then you know it’s one of those sham creatine 2.0 products.
There are many lifestyle factors that affect testosterone levels. Creatine supplementation is one of the easier implementations and is worth a try if you want to elevate your T count to the highest levels possible while staying on the natural route.