Supplements are common in the world of bodybuilding, athleticism, and gym enthusiasts.
These supplements include hormones, steroids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and proteins, to name just a few options available.
Some of these supplements are more popular than others because of their effectiveness. Among the most popular supplements is creatine monohydrate.
Creatine is widely available and is sold after extensive research has been done into this substance.
It is an incredibly popular choice of supplement for people looking to improve their physical health.
Like all substances, creatine has its own way of usage to maximize its effectiveness.
This is why we will be delving into the creatine loading phase and everything you need to know about it.
What Is Creatine?
Before we can get into the creatine loading phase and what it is, we need to know what creatine is, its function in our body, and the benefits of creatine.
Once we understand how creatine works in our body, we can better process the need for a creatine loading phase.
Creatine is an endogenous substance, i.e. it is made inside our body.
Creatine has a similar chemical structure as amino acid, and the muscle cell is where you will find it in your body.
Your muscle stores the majority of the creatine in your body in the form of phosphocreatine.
Numerous factors affect your intramuscular creatine stores, which include your exercise performance, your hormones levels (testosterone and IGF-1), your intake of meat, and the amount of muscle mass you have.
Creatine and Its Benefits
Of course, effective supplements will allow you to reap the full benefits of creatine.
There is a reason this supplement is becoming increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts.
The combination of its numerous benefits along with the limited number of side effects makes creatine a powerful and beneficial supplement.
There are many benefits of creatine which include its ability to increase your energy levels, improve your strength and boost your exercise performance.
These benefits all combine to help you achieve your health and fitness goals, whether that be to build more muscle or increase your stamina.
1) Improved Atheltic Ability
As we have learned, creatine is capable of increasing your energy levels beyond what you are used to, and this means that you are able to work out for longer periods without experiencing fatigue.
This boost of energy provides you with the ability to improve your athletic abilities.
For those who are looking to increase their stamina levels, this supplement works wonders.
By working out for longer periods, you are able to increase your body’s stamina as it adjusts itself to your new training regime.
Creatine is also beneficial in helping you increase your strength. An increase in muscles leads to an increased ability to lift heavier weights.
By doing this, you can significantly improve the strength of your upper body through weight lifting or resistance training.
In fact, there is plenty of research that shows the benefits of creatine for those looking to improve their strength levels.
2) Building Muscles
One of the main reasons people take creatine is its ability to boost the growth of your muscles.
This is possible because of the stored phosphocreatine in the muscles of the body.
The phosphocreatine is used to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s source of energy.
We know that you need the energy to exercise and that the more you work out, the faster you can increase your muscles.
Working out requires a lot of energy, and once you have spent your ATP, your body tires; you need to stop and rest while your body makes more ATP.
Phosphocreatine is available in the stored form; because of this, your body can quickly convert it into ATP, which means that you can work out for longer periods.
The more time you work out, the harder you work your muscles, and the more they will grow in mass.
The recovery period after an intense workout can take some time.
The longer your body needs to recuperate after working out, the longer it takes for you to reach your fitness goals.
Of course, you can’t push your body more than it is capable as this will lead to injury.
Creatine is able to reduce the time it takes for your body to recover from intense workouts.
The main way that creatine does this is through its ability to increase your body’s stores of glycogen, as glycogen levels can drop by almost 40% during exercise.
Glycogen is essential for your body’s recovery process.
Why Are Creatine Supplements Popular?
Creatine supplements are widely used in the world of sports and nutrition as it is incredibly effective while having minimal side effects.
Creatine supplementation is helpful in increasing muscle creatine stores, as it adds to the creatine muscle stores that are already present in the body.
These intramuscular creatine stores- created by creatine supplementation- in the form of phosphocreatine have numerous functions that are beneficial to those who are focused on their physical wellbeing.
The phosphocreatine creatine stores act as energy reservoirs and are used to produce adenosine triphosphate, i.e. energy.
The muscle stores are what make creatine supplementation worthwhile.
The creatine stores are used during explosive energy as they provide you with additional energy that you need to complete your workout without tiring too quickly.
The creatine phosphate in your muscles uses the energy it has stored to increase your ability to work out for longer periods in a single session.
It improves your body’s ability to repair damaged muscle cells post-training sessions through cell signalling.
Creatine increases your anabolic hormone production, which leads to improved performance.
Creatine increases lean muscle mass by reducing the amount of protein broken down in your body.
Supplementing creatine boosts the hydration levels in your cells and decreases the level of myostatin in your body, which allows for increased muscle mass.
Finally, creatine can also be beneficial for the health of your brain and can reduce the chances of neurological problems.
How The Creatine Loading Phase Brings Faster Results
What Is A Loading Phase?
As we have mentioned, creatine is naturally present in the body. Additionally, eating meat and fish increases your creatine.
This diet can load creatine to roughly 80%. The benefit of taking a creatine supplement is that you can boost these levels in your body and, with that improve your athletic performance.
The benefit of creatine supplements is their ability to maximize your creatine levels in a short period of time, especially during what we call the loading phase.
Creatine supplementation allows for a loading phase because of the way it is stored and used in the body.
Supplementing with creatine, unlike other supplements, can allow you to see the benefits of this supplement in a shorter time span.
Creatine loading increases your creatine levels in your muscles, both skeletal muscle and other muscles.
This creatine load then provides you with energy reserves that you can use during high-intensity exercise, which include exercises like weight training/resistance training and other forms of explosive exercise that lead to increased muscle strength, endurance, and muscle gains.
How to Load Creatine?
If you feel the need to load creatine, then there is a certain way that you should do this.
This ensures that you are safe while loading creatine and can reap the benefits of creatine.
The creatine loading phase can be divided into two different parts or doses the loading dose and the maintenance dose.
A typical creatine loading phase usually lasts five days to one week.
When loading, you take high doses of creatine over the five days to one-week period and then switch to lower doses.
The dose of creatine you use is dependant on your weight, but generally, people use 20 grams of creatine as their daily dose and then use smaller doses once the creatine loading phase is complete.
The 20 grams of creatine is not taken at once. Rather you divide the dose into four smaller doses of 5 grams.
The use of a higher dose during the creatine loading phase leads to your muscles being fully saturated with creatine. Once this has been achieved, you can use lower doses of creatine for the maintenance dose.
This is usually 2-10 grams per day.
Taking a smaller dose of creatine daily ensures that you do not waste the effort you put into creatine loading.
What Is The Dosage Of Creatine Monohydrate For Creatine Loading Phase?
When loading creatine, you need to ensure that you are taking more creatine in a shorter time span.
This allows your muscles to store creatine which can later be used for resistance training and other forms of exercise that increase muscle size, strength, and stamina.
When taking creatine for creatine loading, the grams per day are incredibly important.
How many grams of creatine you use is dependant on your body weight.
You need to ensure you are using the correct grams per day to avoid harmful side effects while loading creatine.
The key to taking creatine is to calculate the grams of creatine you need to take according to your weight.
Thankfully the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has created an easy formula you can use to find out how many grams per day you should be taking.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, you need to multiply your weight in kilograms by a factor of 0.3.
If you have an odd number, you can round up or down as you see fit.
The way this works is that someone weighing 75 kilograms will take 23 grams per day. While someone weighing 50 kilograms will take 15 grams per day.
This way, you can accurately calculate the grams of creatine you need to be taking when loading creatine.
This ensures that you are not taking a higher or lower dose for your weight.
Once you have completed your loading period, you can then use a lower dose for maintaining the creatine stores in your muscles.
Is The Loading Phase For Creatine Monohydrate Necessary?
The loading period is not necessary, and it is not something that you have to do in order to reap the benefits of using creatine.
The choice of whether or not you should load is dependant on you and your trainer if you have one.
Loading is dependent on a number of factors, such as whether you wish to see an immediate effect, your ability to stay diligent, and if you are an athlete in a specific weight class.
If you need to keep an eye on your weight, then loading may lead to an increase in weight due to water retention, as creatine can draw water into your muscle mass.
Research suggests that you can obtain the same benefits from taking creatine daily over a longer period.
This means that you do not have to load to obtain more energy or carry out high-intensity exercises.
The power output from your body may initially be slow compared to loading but eventually, the scales balance; it just requires more time.
If you are looking for immediate effects or are looking to improve your training for a fast-approaching competition, then loading is the choice for you.
If, however, you have no immediate need to obtain strength gains or dramatically make training adaptations, then you can definitely skip loading.
How Many Days Of Creatine Loading Is Enough?
Creatine loading is only carried out for a specific time period.
This time period needs to be strictly followed as you can harm yourself from overloading on creatine.
It is important that while creatine may not have many side effects, they are still present.
For this reason, it is important that you follow the given time period for creatine loading.
The general consensus regarding creatine loading is that you should load for a minimum of 5 days and a maximum of 7 days (a week). After that, you should reduce your intake of creatine to a lower dose.
Creatine Loading Phase Safety
Like all supplements, creatine has rules that you should follow to ensure that you are safe and are not causing yourself any harm.
By following these rules, you are ensuring that you have the best experience with creatine and can continue to use the supplement with ease.
First and foremost, you need to be using the correct dose of creatine for your weight. Your weekly dose of creatine for loading should be your weight multiplied by 0.3.
This ensures that you are not overusing or underusing the supplement.
You will find that your loading dose can be as high as 20 grams, which is a lot of creatine to be taken at one time.
Some people may experience stomach issues when taking this much creatine at once.
For this reason, it is best to divide your creatine dose throughout the day, four smaller doses as compared to 1 large dose.
Stay hydrated during loading. Creatine is notorious for pulling water out of your circulation- as it is an osmolyte – and into your musculature.
Naturally, this leads to dehydration.
Dehydration is not fun; it makes you tired and makes it harder to work out.
To prevent this from occurring, you need to stay hydrated; the more creatine you take for loading, the greater the amount of water you should be drinking to ensure dehydration does not occur.
You should inform your doctor that you are using creatine. This is important as creatine is cleared from your body through the kidneys.
If you fail to mention that you are taking creatine and your doctor assesses your kidney function, they may become worried about your health and wellbeing.
For this reason, it is important that your doctor knows you are using creatine so this can be taken into account when your health is being evaluated.
Creatine Loading Phase Side Effects
One of the great things about this supplement and the main contributor to its popularity is that it can be used over a short and long period of time with minimal side effects.
However, that does not mean that there are no side effects when using creatine.
It is important to be aware of these side effects so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not this supplement is suitable for your health and wellbeing.
The side effects related to creatine are usually related to the gastrointestinal tract. These side effects are rare and include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Creatine can lead to unwanted weight gain and bloating.
Creatine can cause heat-related illness, cramping, and dehydration.
Additionally, as creatine is removed from the body via the kidneys, people with renal issues should not take creatine without talking to their doctor first.
Creatine is generally safe when used in the prescribed amounts.
If you have an underlying health concern, are pregnant, or are nursing, it’s always better to contact your doctor before taking supplements.
Loading creatine is a precise process.
The safety rules for loading should be closely followed, from ensuring you are using the correct dose for your weight to the amount of time it should be carried.
Creatine is an incredibly effective supplement that has numerous benefits, from improving your stamina and strength to increasing the growth of your muscles.
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