Thursday, January 22, 2009

Video: How to Use Creatine

So we've already covered how to cycle creatine properly before.  But for all you illiterate and/or lazy folks out there, here is a video version.  Check it out:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Creatine Ethyl Ester Questions from Readers

Our previous post about what supplements to take along with creatine ethyl ester got us thinking. We get questions from readers fairly regularly here, and we definitely want you all to have your questions about creatine and everything related to building muscle, working out, and your nutrition and diet needs answered.

So without further ado, we are announcing a new feature here: Reader Questions! For all of you that have questions, you can leave a comment on this post or you can email us (if you can find our contact info, HA!) your questions. We will do our best to answer EVERY question, at least with an email reply. Just do us a favor, and try not to ask questions that we have already answered repeatedly on the site.

Questions that are fairly common or are just exceptionally good questions will be answered on the blog. If you would like credit for asking the question, be sure to leave those details. Otherwise, we will automatically make those questions anonymous so we won't anger any of our readers.

We are looking forward to this new feature and are hoping it goes well. So go ahead and ask all those great creatine ethyl ester questions that you've beeen waiting to ask!

What to Take with Creatine Ethyl Ester

Here is a good question from one of our loyal readers, "Tarheel Tim" from New Bern, NC.

I have been taking creatine ethyl ester (BSN CellMass is the best brand, in my opinion) for about 2 and a half weeks now, and I am already seeing incredible results with no noticeable side effects! So first off, I wanted to say thanks to you for writing this blog because it was what finally convinced me to give CEE a thanks!

My question is this: what supplements would you recommend, if any, that I take along with creatine ethyl ester? Thanks in advance!

Well Tim, that is a great question. And you are definitely welcome for this site, that's what we put it here for! Now on to your question...

First things first: before anyone should even worry about any type of bodybuilding or muscle building supplements, you need to FIRST make sure that your diet is adequate. If you are trying to build muscle and get bigger and stronger, you need to make sure that you are getting enough protein. Shoot for about 1.5 grams of protein for every pound that you weigh. Get as much of this as you can from natural food sources, especially healthy foods like chicken breasts, shrimp, and tuna.

You also want to make sure that you are taking in enough calories to fuel muscle growth! This seems basic, but this is probably the single biggest mistake that most "hard gainers" are making. Even the best supplements can't help you pack on the pounds if you aren't getting enough fuel for your body. So get to eating!

With all that said, you will not want to suck down food indiscriminately. All calories are not equal, plus you want to keep healthy and live for a long time, right? So follow most of your basic health guidelines, being sure to get plenty of fruit, veggies, variety, and avoid too much saturated fat, sodium, etc.

You will also want to AVOID SUGARS, sweets (even artificially sweetened foods), and simple, refined carbs as much as possible. Simple carbs/sugars spike your blood sugar, switching your body into fat storage mode, rather than muscle building/fat burning mode. (This is simplified, but this is the gist of it.)

Creatine Ethy Ester, Glutamine, Protein: The Three Amigos of Muscle Building

So, finally, allow me to answer your question. What supplements should you consider taking along with your creatine supplement?

Number one on the list is a protein supplement. Whey protein is generally the best, and I would generally recommend a whey protein powder to make into a shake. Drink your protein shake immediately after working out to aid in recovery. This will probably be just as effective (if not more so) than an expensive post workout drink. Mix your protein powder with milk if at all possible to get the maximum benefit. Also, try to get as much protein as possible from food, but use your protein supplement to reach your daily protein goal.

Finally, another supplement to consider is L-glutamine. Some people will argue that you will get enough of this with your protein, but I feel that an extra supplement could provide some benefit. Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that plays a major role in protein synthesis.

These three bodybuilding supplements, along with proper nutrition/diet and effective weight training, will give you the boost you are looking for. However, if you are unsure about the glutamine, you should still see most of the benefit by sticking with the whey protein supplements and the creatine ethyl ester.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Best Creatine: Quality Discount Creatine Supplements

Since the Creatine Ethyl Ester blog has been published, I constantly get emails from readers asking me for my recommendation on what is the best creatine supplement. Truthfully, I cannot definitevely say that supplement X is the most effective creatine supplement available, or that brand Y is the best creatine for your money. However, through my extensive experiences, and the extensive experiences of many people I work with, I can give some general recommendations.

Cheap Creatine Supplements

While many creatine supplements are grossly overpriced and not worth the money, that does not mean you should go out and immediately buy the cheapest creatine you can buy. Many of the cheapest creatine supplements are impure, poorly manufactured forms of creatine. It is particularly dangerous to purchase creatine, or any muscle building supplement, from a fly-by-night, little known manufacturer.

Be sure to check the manufacturer out with the Better Business Bureau, and you may also want to check out what the FDA has to say about how to avoid risks when buying dietary supplements.

If a manufacturer is not on the up and up, they could easily be making impure supplements, whether they are labeled as such or not. This means the creatine you buy may not only be less or ineffective, but it may also contain dangerous toxins and contaminants.

Discount Creatine Supplements That Work

Despite the above warnings, you can still find safe, effective creatine supplements at low prices. Just be sure that the supplements are from a known, reputable manufacturer.

Pure creatine monohydrate, especially in powder form, is generally inexpensive. In fact, any form of creatine monohydrate that you purchase should probably be relatively cheap. These creatine supplements, provided they are taken properly and are from a reputable company, should also prove to be effective and safe.

Quality Creatine Products

Still, if you are looking for a little "extra boost" for your buck, you may want to consider spending a little bit more money and getting a premium creatine product. You will want to be careful to avoid getting ripped off.

Avoid any liquid creatine supplement or creatine serum. These products are a waste of money, as most of the creatine in these liquids will have become unstable long before you ingest it. In fact, if you mix your own creatine powder with a liquid, be sure to drink it immediately. Creatine monohydrate breaks down in liquid and becomes less effective over time.

Some well regarded premium creatine formulas that I would recommend are: MuscleTech's Creakic Hardcore, MRI's CE2 Hi-def and CE2 Platinum, and BSN CellMass. All of these products provide quality creatine monohydrate or creatine ethyl ester in a formula that efficiently and effectively delivers the creatine to your muscles. If you have questions about a particular creatine supplement or product, feel free to comment or contact me to get my opinion on the best creatine supplements and products.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Creatine Serum or Liquid Creatine

One question I am getting over and over again is about Liquid Creatine, also known as Creatine Serum. Manufacturers of liquid creatine products make many claims saying that creatine in their special serum form is superior to other forms such as creatine ethyl ester HCL or creatine monohydrate. I have been getting numerous emails asking questions about these liquid forms of creatine, whether they truly are superior to other creatine supplements, and whether liquid creatine serum is effective at all.

The main issue surrounding creatine serum is that, like so many other muscle building supplements, there have been little or no independent studies performed. Because of this, the only "evidence" we have to rely on are biased studies performed by the manufacterers themselves, anecdotal evidence, and scientific theory.

Due to the extremely biased nature of the studies performed by the maufacturers, I will completely discount those. No company is going to produce and market a body building supplement and publish a study stating that it is ineffective and/or unsafe. It just won't happen.

Anecdotal evidence is tough. If enough people tell you that something works, you may start to believe it. However, you rely much more on evidence from people you know, trust, and respect. Still, it can be tough for the person telling you that liquid creatine works to seperate the effect of the creatine serum vs. the effects of other factors, such as working out and the placebo effect.

Finally, let's take a look at what the science says is "likely" to be true. Creatine, in any form, is known to be unstable when placed in a liquid. We all know that very little of the creatine we ingest, in any form, is absorbed and used by the body. This is also why, if you take a creatine powder, it is important to drink the creatine mixture immediately after stirring in the creatine.

With that in mind, it is very difficult to see how a "liquid creatine" or a "creatine serum" could possibly remain stable. It is very likely that much of the original creatine has been broken down into the waste product creatinin. For my money, I would stick to monohydrate or, better yet, ester creatine.

Still, many users do report seeing results from taking creatine serum. If you think liquid creatine will for work for you, then go ahead and try it, it won't hurt. At worst, you will be out a little bit of money. However, you should be wary of claims that liquid creatine is instantly absorbed, etc, as those specific claims are just not true.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

How to Take Creatine Properly

Whether you are taking creatine monohydrate or creatine ethyl ester, you need to take it properly in order to see the maximum benefits and gain the most muscle. However, many, many creatine users continue to take creatine in the wrong way. With bodybuilding supplements and nutritional supplements in general, there is no doctor or pharmacist to prescribe the proper dosage to you. So, today we will teach you how to take creatine the correct way, so that you can get the maximum benefits of creatine ethyl ester or creatine monohydrate.

Should You Cycle Creatine Use?

One of the most common questions about creatine is whether or not you should cycle on and off of it. Whether you are taking monohydrate or CEE, you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD cycle on and off your creatine use. If you constantly take creatine day after day for months or years, your body will become desensitized to its effects. Your body will build up a tolerance and you will no longer gain any benefit from creatine use.

For this reason, you should cycle on and off of creatine. The most effective method is to use creatine for four weeks, and then quit for four weeks. After abstaining for four weeks, you start taking creatine again for another four weeks. This helps you avoid building up a tolerance and allows you to keep seeing benefits from taking creatine. You will also save money by not having to buy creatine constantly!

Loading Phase and Maintenance Phase

The four weeks of taking creatine (in the "on" cycle) should be broken down into two phases: a loading phase and a maintenance phase. The very first week is the loading phase. During this phase, you should take about twice the normal amount of creatine per day. Break this up into two or three dosages per day. The goal during this loading phase is to help your body build up it's creatine stores as quickly as possible. Still, there is no point in taking more than 2 to 4 times your normal creatine dosage during this phase. Anything more simply will not be absorbed by your body, and may cause increased bloating, cramping, dehydration, and diarrhea.

The final three weeks in the "on" cycle make up the maintanence phase. You have built up the stores of creatine in your cells during the loading phase. Now, you are simply keeping the stores full at their maximum capacity. Take a normal dosage of creatine daily during these three weeks (probably half to a quarter of what you were taking during the loading phase). After these three weeks are up, completely stop taking creatine for four weeks. Then, repeat the cycle again, beginning with the loading phase.

By taking creatine in this manner, you are getting the maximum benefit while reducing the risk of building up a tolerance. It is important to follow the cycle whether you are taking monohydrate or creatine ethyl ester.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Benefits of Creatine Ethyl Ester

We've mentioned the benefits of creatine supplements several times on this site. However, we haven't yet written out a post specifically dedicated to the benefits of creatine ethyl ester yet. So, without further ado, here is why you should be taking CEE supplements.

  1. Increased energy/endurance. Creatine supplementation has been proven to increase energy and muscle endurance. More energy and endurance means you can workout longer and/or more strenuously. The end result, of course, is more added muscle and strength.
  2. Faster recover time. Another proven benefit of taking creatine is faster muscle recovery time from workouts. This means you will not feel sore as longer, your muscles rebuild faster, and you can workout more often if you choose (of course, you should still be careful not to overtrain).
  3. Faster increases in strength and muscle mass. This one is the biggie, obviously. The very reason most people look to bodybuilding supplements in the first place is to increase muscle mass and strength and, ideally, do it fast. Creatine has been shown in study after study to yeild significant increases in both strength and muscle mass, and it does it fast. Most people see noticeable results after just a few weeks (3 to 4) of taking creatine, particularly those who are taking it for the first time or for the first time in a long time. If you are new to weightlifting, you will likely see pretty incredible results fast.
  4. No creatine bloat. One of the major drawbacks to creatine monohydrate was that, while seeing great results in muscle and strength gains, the increased water retention often led to a bloated feel and even appearance. Many people complained that, though their muscles did appear bigger, they had a somewhat "soft" aspect to them due to the increased water, at least while still taking the creatine. Since creatine ethyl ester is more easily absorbed in the body, the creatine bloat is not as significant. Many people have stated that they do not experience creatine bloat at all with creatine ethyl ester.

So there you have it, just a few of the many reasons to try creatine ethyl ester as part of your workout and weightlifting regimen. Remember to always drink plenty of water while on creatine, make sure you cycle on and off, and eat a proper diet (plenty of protein!) while taking creatine. And of course, remember to workout!

Creatine Monohydrate vs Creatine Ethyl Ester

Ok, so you have decided to take the plunge and begin taking creatine supplements. You've heard the benefits, and you want to take advantage of faster and increased gains in muscle mass, endurance, and faster recovery time. You want to get those muscles huge! You've also read about the side effects of creatine, and you've been assured that creatine supplements really work. Now, you just have one more question: creatine monohydrate or creatine ethyl ester?

Creatine monohydrate has been around for a really long time now. It has been shown to produce fantastic results in most people who are weight training and eating a proper diet (i.e. plenty of protein, etc.). However, creatine monohydrate is not very easily absorbed in the body. When taking creatine monohydrate, you basically have to inundate your body with a large amount of creatine so that your body will absorb as much as possible, leaving the excess, unabsorbed creatine to sit unabsorbed in intracellular water.

Creatine monohydrate has also been shown to produce some undesirable (though usually not serious) side effects in people. Cramping, diarrhea, dehydration, and bloating are some of the most common side effects associated with creatine intake. Cramping and especially "creatine bloating" seem to be the most common complaints.

Creatine ethyl ester, or CEE, is a newer form of creatine. While similar in benefits to creatine monohydrate, CEE was formulated to be absorbed by your body more easily. Due to this easier absorption, smaller doses of esterified creatine (CEE) are needed than with monohydrate.

With easier absorption and smaller dosages, creatine ethyl ester has the potential to produce greater benefits than the original creatine monohydrate form. What's more, CEE potentially results in lesser side effects. So you want those huge muscle gains without the "creatine bloat" look that gives your muscles a softer look? Well then you might want to give creatine ethyl ester a try.