Creatine There is so much research showing the benefits of using the stuff it is almost as valuable as protein as far as supplements go. It enhances the energy "state" of the cell, it enhances glycogen storage, it enhances protein synthesis, it prevents protein catabolism, it stabilizes the muscle cell membrane (allowing higher faster recovery) and enhances cell volume (hydration state), it increases the number of myonuclei donated by satellite cells when fusing with myofibers - thus increasing the muscle's growth potential (refer to Basics of HST thread). Why wouldn't anybody use it? There is now research looking at 5 years of chronic use indicating it is safe. It is true that the creatine transporter downregulates itself, but not to the point that no creatine is taken up. If you use 0.03 grams per kilogram (3-5 grams) per day, you will always be loaded and reap the benefits that creatine provides. Please keep in mind that creatine was originally marketed to increase your strength dramatically and put 7-10 pounds on you over night (Feels like Deca! Ya, sure it does Bill). This simply isn't going to happen for most people. Creatine use will however do alot to optimize your body's ability to adapt to training. That's what a person should use it for. And, it does produce measurable results. Measurable in the lab and in the real world. You just have to be patient, and know what your looking for. Creatine is taken up into cells by the creatine transporter. It is a sodium (Na+) dependant transporter. It is estimated that 2Na+ are transported with each Cr molecule. The transporter is saturable. Meaning, it can only go so fast no matter how much creatine is present around the cell. The creatine transporter is NOT directly effected by glucose, insulin, or caffeine. However, when insulin reaches very high levels, it has been shown to increase the amount of creatine that is taken up into cells. There is no evidence that it increases the total amount that the cell can hold. Caffeine does not inhibit the uptake of creatine into cells. There is no evidence that "low blood sugar"/hypoglycemia will be effected by creatine supplementation. 1) Creatine uptake into muscle tissue is limited by the activity of the creatine transporter. 2) The creatine transporter is "down-regulated" as the level of creatine inside the muscle cell increases. 3) Creatine only has an effect on muscle cell physiology once it is already inside the cell. Creatine in the blood does nothing for performance...it must be inside the cell. 4) If you load creatine during 5 days (20gm/day), the amount of creatine excreted in the urine goes up DRAMATICALLY by the 3rd day because the muscle cells lose the ability to take in creatine because their transporters are being downregulated. 5) Creatine uptake appears to be either sodium dependant, or highly regulated by sodium transport. Insulin (from carbs) increases sodium uptake into cells, this is why carbs have been shown to increase creatine uptake. 6) Exercise increases creatine uptake. If you take some creatine and sit on a staionary bike and only peddle with one leg, the leg you peddle with will take up more creatine than the leg that is not peddling. (hint: take you creatine pre-workout) 7) Different forms of creatine do not affect creatine uptake. This is because creatine uptake is limited by the creatine itself, not by its form at the time of ingestion. Once the muscle cell is filled up, it won't take any more. Don't let anybody charge you for any special forms of creatine. Monohydrate works as good as any. 8) Creatine supplementation will result in approximately a 20% increase in phosphocreatine at best. 9) Some people will have a greater response to creatine if their meat intake was low before. Vegetarians respond beautifully to the stuff. Once creatine stores are full in muscle tissue, it doesn't matter whether you take 5 grams or 10 grams, the muscle won't take in any more because it downregulates the creatine transporters until no more creatine can be taken in. Insulin or no insulin, if there are no transporters, no creatine is being taken up into muscle tissue. It is simply being broken down into creatinine and peed out. Its hard to say what is optimal. All I can say, is that if you "load" you fill up muscles faster than if you don't. However, in the end, you will still end up with as much creatine in muscle if you don't load, but it will take anywhere from 3-4 weeks to do so. Is faster better? Don't know. We also know that if creatine is floating around during exercise, it will be taken up much better than when you take it at rest. We also know that insulin, because of its effects on sodium retention, also "facilitates" creatine entry into cells. So, putting it all together, whether you load or not, make sure to take creatine before exercise. And, it might further help to take it with something that will icnrease insulin levels, like a preworkout MRP. There have been no studies to answer the question about creatine cycling. When considering the effects of creatine, I would guess that cycling would not be particularly beneficial, compared to just taking it all the time. Just my opinion though. And, there is yet any research to clearly define the time frame for cycling creatine. A person is still justified asking whether creatine really needs to be cycled or not. However, I stumbled across a study the other day that measured intramusclar levels of creatine afte loading. They found that levels were slightly higher for the first weeks or so after loading, but then slowly began to decline. So, if there is a particular event where you want as much creatine as possible in the muscle, you may want to go off for 30 days, and then load the week leading up to the event. For bodybuilding...we just don't know if there is any real benefit to either rapid loading or cycling it. I always take my creatine before training and have never had any cramping or even an upset stomach from it. The strength increases seen with creatine supplementation are more a result of fatigue resistance, rather than an increase in neural drive. The energy requirements of short duration, high intensity exercise are met primarily through the recycling of ATP and phosphocreatine (PC). Despite the relative importance of this system to performance, relatively little definitive research has been done to elucidate whether this system undergoes significant adaptation. The research which exists suggests that phosphagen and related enzyme adaptations are effected specifically by the type, duration and structure of resistance training. Your muscles/body lose creatine everyday at a rate of about 0.03 grams/kg bodyweight/day. So the creatine that is stored in your muscles doesn't just stay there, it is slowly lost at pretty much a constant rate. Creatine monohydrate supplementation has been shown to increase creatine-phosphate by about 20%. This is significant and effect the creatine phosphate energy shuttle (which is repsonsible supplying ATP for protein synthesis). So, creatine probably wont directly increase your one rep max, but it can increase the number of reps you can get with your 10 rep max. Make sense? Add the creatine to your preworkout protein drink. "Twitching" is often caused by Ca++ dysregulation in the muscle cell. The sarcoplasmic reticulum is struggling to sequester all the calcium ions floating around. As this occurs, the calcium ions will cause the fibers to twitch. This can sometimes show up after a change in caffeine intake, along with heavy training. Caffeine is a Ca++ channel agonist. This will not hurt your gains, in fact, I have suspected in the past that this will actually lead to muscle hypertrophy through the activation of calcineurin. Anyway, you may try using creatine. It helps the muscle fibers relax by making ATP more readily available (when ATP is not available the fibers go into rigor). IF the twitching is driving you crazy, try creatine. If your not quite crazy yet, you can skip the creatine and know that at least the twitching might help those fibers grow. Using the creatine will not "prevent" hypertrophy of course because the real stimulus for hypertrophy occured during your last workout. Tachyphylaxis does not really apply to creatine supplementaiton in a classical sense. Creatine doesn't really "push" any physiological system, like say, ephedrine or caffeine. Creatine and the response to oral intake is reduced by decreasing the number and activity of creatine transporters. But this isn't really how the term tachyphylaxis is generally used. I don't mean to sound preachy, but...I was told by several people in the industry that unless I did something to my creatine to make it fancy, I would never be able to sell it. They said it needed bells a whistles. I told them, "Why would I make a product that I wouldn't buy myself?" And they would say, "That's different, you know a lot more about this stuff than they do." Well, I didn't do anything fancy to my creatine. I only made sure it was the purest that could be bought and provided the research to support its use, as well as the research to show how best to use it for gains. I didn't fabricate any of the research either. It was done by institutions that have nothing to gain from creatine sales. I can tell you that creatine from certain German companies is of high quality. However, the Chinese have actually cleaned up their act and have now began to produce hhigh quality creatine as well. This comes after pressure from large supplement companies for thier creatine to meet other companies standards of purity. There is also a US company that sells equally high quality creatine as the Germans. Remember, there is no secret to producing pure creatine. If one company decides to ensure that their raw creatine is pure, it will be just as good as any other company that is producing pure creatine. So, pure is pure, regardles of where it comes from. Keep in mind that high quality (pure) creatine costs more than cheap impure creatine. So there is alwyas a temptation for companies who don't really know or care "who they are as a company" to just go for the cheap stuff without regard for quality.