Creatine – Beauty or Beast?

I am very new to supplementation.  In fact, the only supplement I’ve ever used, until recently, is whey protein and B-Complex vitamins.  You can learn more about my moodswing adventures in Slap that Inner ‘B’ with B (Complex that is).  Creatine is one of the few favorite supplements I’ll be rambling about in the coming weeks as we explore my daily arsenal.

When I used to think of vitamins and supplements, gypsy trailers and tall-tale-tellers with top hats and handlebar mustaches came to mind.  Fast forward to the summer of 2011, when I began my fitness transformation.  At the start of my new program I conducted a lot of research.  Several supplements surfaced repeatedly, based on my goal of building lean muscle mass.  Micronized Creatine Monohydrate was one of them.  Creatine is and has been controversial, certainly.  However, it is one of the most researched supplements out there, and is beneficial in a number of ways.  This expert video covers this in detail.  I acknowledge that the expert is paid by one of the largest supplementation retailers in the world, but he has credentials, and I find it a thorough overview.  Web MD also provides nice coverage.

I personally have enjoyed the added power and energy that creatine brings to my workouts, particularly on leg day.  I was hardly able to get through a light leg workout before adding creatine to my supplement plan.  Now that it’s part of my daily routine, I’m able to work with the needed intensity for progression.  I love that pumped feeling after my lower body workouts, something I could only achieve with my upper body before.

It puzzles me that creatine seems to be marketed mostly to men, as studies have shown it’s beneficial for all athletes.  I even heard a story of a trainer advising a female client against creatine because “it’s for men, and you will get huge on it”.  Baloney, I say, unless you find me huge.

If you decide to try it, follow the package instructions for loading and maintenace.  Understand that you don’t have to load, and it’s perfectly OK to begin at the maintenance dosage.  Loading just allows you to obtain results quicker.  Beware that the micronized (powder) version of whichever brand you buy may be touted as ‘tasteless’, but I don’t find that to be the case.  There is definitely a taste, along with a little bit of grit.  It’s not great.  I like to mix it up in my protein shake or other flavored drink.

Now that I’ve extolled the virtues of this lovely miracle powder, I must remind you that I am in no way, shape or form a medical anybody.  Please consult with your doctor before taking this or any other supplement.

Do you use creatine?  What is your experience?  What have you heard about it?