In Part II of this article we saw how to use Phosphatidylserine (PS) to speed up muscle recovery times. In this part we are going to take a look at the good old Creatine – proven to pack on mass, but also, proven to boost your natural testosterone production as well as DHT.
3. Creatine Monohydrate: A simple, inexpensive supplement that will boost your testosterone and DHT naturally
It is not an exaggeration to say that more than 90% of all bodybuilding supplements are completely useless. All supplement companies advertise their products saying they will improve your performance in the gym based on studies they are funding themselves. Creatine, however, is an exception to this and has been proven repeatedly to be one of the few legitimate supplements, along with whey protein powder. It’s been also proven to increase your testosterone, which in turn creates an optimal anabolic environment to achieve your ideal physique.
What Is Creatine?
To save you the the boring scientific details, creatine monohydrate is a compound that is already produced naturally in your body and helps with the production of another natural compound called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the muscle cell’s energy fuel source that’s used when the muscles contract and it enables the body to create short bursts of explosive movement patterns. ATP is the reason that allows a bodybuilder perform those heavy deadlifts and squats.
The more creatine you have, the more ATP is produced, the more ATP is produced the more repetitions you can squeeze out during those last heavy sets, when otherwise you could do no more. This, of course, creates optimal stimulation for your muscles to grow, making creatine an excellent anabolics alternative.
Creatine raises testosterone levels
A study was made in which two groups of men who were resistance training were given creatine and placebo, respectively. The group taking creatine had much higher testosterone and androgen levels than the levels they started the study with and also had higher levels than the group that took placebo. In another study, rugby player were given 20 grams of creatine monohydrate for one week which resulted in 55% increase of DHT levels. The interesting part is that testosterone exhibits much stronger androgenic effects after its conversion into DHT, because once it’s been converted it cannot, in turn be converted into estrogen, which happens with testosterone in the process of aromatization.
Is it safe?
As with every other substance, taking large doses might cause some side-effects, although no serious cases have been reported so far, so the risk remains low. Some side-effects may include:
- Risk of heat exhaustion or heart cramp, or other heat-related illnesses
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Low blood pressure
- Cramps and strains in the muscles
Using it excessively can put a burden on the kidneys. Excess creatine that hasn’t been utilized by the muscles is turned into a waste product called creatinine, for which the kidneys have to work overtime in order to remove it. Since it’s already produced in the body naturally, we could logically assume that taking moderate dosages can hardly cause any serious health problems.
A study was made where football players took 5 grams of creatine every day for 21 months. During this period they did not have any side-effects and had fewer instances where they pulled their muscles and experienced fewer cramps in comparison to those not using creatine. Another study consisting of 200 participants took 10 grams of creatine a day and still there was no significant health difference to those not taking creatine.
How to increase your creatine intake?
You can ingest creatine by eating lots of meat products, such as pork, beef, poultry and fish. The inner organs are especially full of it. However, the creatine molecule is easily broken down when exposed to heat, so it’s a good idea to eat meats that you can safely consume in a raw form. Fish is an excellent example of this, since it’s one of the rare meats that you can eat without having to cook it first. Tuna and herring are two examples. However, you should stay away from canned fish, because they are already being cooked while they are being manufactured. Fresh and pre-cut fish can be found in supermarkets, where they are often called “sashimi”.
Creatine as a supplement
Lots of health enthusiasts perpetuate the idea that you shouldn’t consume anything that comes in a powder or pill form. While it is certainly true that the majority of supplements are a complete waste of money, creatine is an exception to that. If you decide on using creatine, getting it in this manner is a lot more convenient, than having to buy another fridge to fill it with all the fish you would need to, in order to get the same amount of creatine you would otherwise get in a supplement form. Plain creatine monohydrate is also incredibly cheap. A one-kilo container would cost you about 20 bucks. The daily serving is five grams, which means you can use the same container for over 6 months. Cheap and effective. What more can one ask for?
The usual method of taking creatine for the first time is by introducing it to your body with a loading phase. What this means is that for the first week, you will take 20 grams every day. After 7 days have passed, you will continue with a maintenance phase where you will take 5 grams every day. You can dissolve into water, milk, juice or any beverage of your choice. An important thing to remember is that while you are taking creatine you also need to drink a lot of water. Your muscles will begin to swell up because creatine takes the water into the muscle tissue. If you don’t you might become dehydrated, so get accustomed to drinking larger quantities of water.
The best type
Lots of new types of creatine have been “invented” in the past few years giving the impression that they somehow offer advantages over the plain creatine monohydrate. Do not fall for that. The monohydrate is the cheapest and best type. Supplement companies are trying to persuade their clients that newly released types can give them far superior results, but they are only trying to make an extra buck and give them nothing in return. Various supplement companies perpetuate the idea that by adding special ingredients in their new products, you can increase the absorption rate of creatine in your body. Sometimes, these special ingredients are just dextrose or some other sugar. Why buying an expensive tube with simple ingredients when you can add them yourself. You shouldn’t go overboard though, because sugar is a major testosterone killer.
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Creatine serum
- Effervescent creatine
- Creatine citrate
- Creatine kre-alkalyn