Creatine Expert Dr. Paul Greenhaff Tells You How to Get the Most from Your Creatine
Study after study shows the greatest increases in exercise and sports performance appear to be found in persons with the largest increases in muscle creatine concentrations. “This suggests that an ergogenic effect of creatine ingestion on metabolism and performance during exercise and recovery may critically depend on the extent of muscle creatine uptake during ingestion,” says Dr. Paul Greenhaff, a noted authority on creatine supplementation from England’s Nottingham University.
“It also points to the importance of maximizing tissue creatine uptake when attempting to increase exercise performance via creatine ingestion,” he says. Here’s a few recommendations from Dr. Greenhaff to help you get more creatine to your muscles, and therefore, see improved muscle strength and performance
- Don’t Overlook the Creatine Loading Period: “Most muscle creatine uptake takes place during the initial days of creatine supplementation,” says Dr. Greenhaff. “In a study in which subjects consumed 30 grams a day for four days, 30 percent of the total intake was retained during the initial two days of supplementation, compared with 15 percent from days two to four.” He recommends loading your muscles by consuming around 20 grams for four days, then maintain with 2 to 5 grams per day thereafter.
- Consume Your Creatine Right After Exercise: “In a study by Dr. Harris, et al., the mean total creatine concentration ofthe muscle increased by 37 percent when creatine was combined with exercise, as opposed to 26 percent with creatine supplementation alone,” notes Dr. Greenhaff.
- Consume Your Creatine with Carbs: “Creatine ingestion with carbohydrate has a large potentiating effect on creatine uptake,” says Dr. Greenhaff. “In one study, three groups consumed 20 grams of creatine per day for three days. One of these groups consumed four 5-gram doses of creatine dissolved in 250 milliliters of a warm, sugar-free, diluted orange drink. A second group followed each 5-gram creatine load with 500 milliliters of a commercially available 18.5 percent simple carbohydrate solution. Whole-body creatine retention was significantly increased when ingested in combination with carbohydrate solution, probably because of a stimulatory effect of insulin.”
- Consider Taking Creatine + Carbs + Protein: The downside to tip number 3, says Dr. Greenhaff, is it seems huge amounts of simple carbohydrates (on the order of 100 grams) are needed for optimal insulin-stimulatory effects. “However,” says Dr. Greenhaff, “if the amount of carbohydrate is halved and protein is added (which will also stimulate insulin release and thereby creatine transport), a high degree of retention is also achieved. The net effect is that high amounts of creatine retention can be achieved without ingesting mega amounts of carbohydrate.”
- Mix Your Creatine in Lukewarm Water: “If your creatine isn’t dissolved,” says Dr. Greenhaff, “you’ll delay the absorption of creatine into the blood, which is important for stimulating the muscle creatine uptake. And you may actually cause gastrointestinal upset, which we have seen in athletes who have not dissolved their creatine correctly (i.e., mixed in ice-cold water).”