Without further delay here's RM's Health & Fitness section's SALUTE *Salutes* to Creatine. Creatine monohydrate is the most popular and effective bodybuilding supplement on the market. If you are considering stacking a supplement with your protein, this one is an easy way to help put on some extra muscle! Here's some information about the product and how it's used. ----------------------- 1. What is it and where does it come from? So, what is creatine? Our bodies naturally make the compound, which is used to supply energy to our muscles. It is produced in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, and is transported to the body's muscles through the bloodstream. Once it reaches the muscles, it is converted into phosphocreatine (creatine phosphate). This high-powered metabolite is used to regenerate the muscles' ultimate energy source, ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Unlike steroids or drugs, creatine is 100% natural and occurs naturally in many foods; therefore, it can never be banned from any sports or international competitions (unless they banned eating meat). Many foods especially herring, salmon, tuna, and beef contain some creatine. However, the very best source of creatine by far is creatine monohydrate because it contains more creatine per weight of material than any other source. 2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this? Creatine is bodybuilding's ultimate supplement, and for good reason. For one thing, creatine can significantly increase lean muscle mass in just two weeks. It is also responsible for improving performance in high-intensity exercise, increasing energy levels, and speeding up recovery rates. It's no wonder athletes who use it have such of an edge over those who do not. Soon nearly every athlete who competes will use it (if they don't already). Creatine's ability to enhance energy reserves in muscles comes from its muscle protein synthesizing action, while minimizing protein breakdown. This occurs because creatine has the awesome effect of super-hydrating muscle cells with water. It enhances muscles' growth too-making muscle fibers bigger and stronger. Quite a few studies have been done on creatine to figure out why and how it works so well. There have been over twenty double blind (meaning neither the researchers nor the subjects knew who was getting what), placebo-controlled studies conducted on creatine in the past five years. They proved that creatine increased energy levels, resulting in increased strength, endurance levels, and recovery rates. Another unexpected benefit attributed to creatine was discovered as well: creatine accelerates fat loss, while building lean body mass! 3. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects? Excellent results have been observed in taking creatine monohydrate in two different ways. The first way is called loading. This method works very well for anyone who has never taken creatine before. Just as the name implies, it involves loading up or saturating your muscles with creatine. During the first four days to a week, take 20 to 30 grams per day. Mix it with non-acidic juice or water. Grape juice works well. After this loading period, take a regular intake of between five to fifteen grams per day to keep your muscles saturated (no need to over do it). The other method is a more gradual approach to supplementing with creatine monohydrate. Over the course of an extended period, one basically skips the loading phase and just supplements with five to fifteen grams per day, everyday. The best results have been noticed when creatine is combined with a high carbohydrate base, such as dextrose (glucose) and taken about one-half hour before training. The best part about creatine-no adverse effects have been reported in any studies. NONE! Creatine is totally safe and effective. Creatine has never been shown harmfully toxic. Nevertheless, just like with anything, it is not recommended to over-supplement once your muscles are saturated with creatine-there is no reason to. This means, stick to the recommended dosages, and be prepared to experience the very best muscle, strength, energy, and endurance gains possible! ---------------------- (taken from Bodybuilding.com) Past research and ongoing research shows that Creatine is completely safe and effective. There are quite a few different forms of Creatine on the market. You can get creatine in the form of a powder, mixed with protein, capsulated, liquid, with glutamine, CCC (Creatine Ethyl Ester), and a few other forms/products. A good route to go would be a powder form Creatine Monohydrate or Creatine Ethyl Ester. Powder in general allows for the quickest absorbtion and CEE better allows for a cells chance to absorb it. There are also Creatine "matrix" products on the market that will contain multiple forms of creatine scientifically developed for your best gains. Me personally I currently using BSN CellMass for my post-workout creatine. There's a lot of good products on the market. BSN, Muscletech (Cell Tech), EAS (Phosphagen HP), Higher Power, Prolab, Twinlab, Ultimate Nutrition, Controlled Labs etc. etc. ETC. There's a TON of products on the market. Try to go with a major manufacturer, and IMO, a matrix product is gonna be your best bet. Quick Q&A: Q: I have heard conflicting information about cycling creatine. Should I or shouldn't I? A: Some studies support creatine cycling and others do not. There are a couple of different "cycling" strategies you can try: 1. Stay on creatine all the time, but reload once every six weeks; 2. Load for a week, stay in your maintenance phase for six weeks, then stop taking creatine completely for a couple of weeks. Repeat. Q: Is the loading phase with Creatine necessary to experience any benefits? A: The loading phase is not required when using Creatine, but results of our university studies indicate that the loading phase helps you reach that magic muscle-creatine saturation point quicker than if you just started out with the maintenance dose. You can reach the same creatine saturation point by taking one serving of Creatine for 30 days as you would from loading for 5 days, but most people aren't interested in waiting a month for results they could see in a week or less. Q: What is the advantage of taking creatine in a powder versus a capsule or tablet form? A: Powder can be absorbed by the bloodstream more efficiently than a pill, which has a coating that must be digested first. Also, creatine is taken in gram amounts-which means, you'd need to take 20 1-gram capsules or 40 tablets per day to load. Needless to say, powder is much more efficient. Good Luck! and may the Creatine be with you!