I spent nearly a year using creatine monohydrate powder and liked it just fine. It’s an unflavored, zero calorie powder that is very affordable ($30 will get you about 200 servings — more than enough for an entire round of P90X with a bunch left over for round 2). I never used the pre-mixed creatine that has lots of sugar and carbs in it because I didn’t want the sugar. I liked mixing my creatine with my Results/Recovery drink (the carbs in that help it absorb fast, and there’s no need to then take extra sugar for the improved absorption). I would also take a serving in the evening before bed, mixed with whey protein in water (no carbs to speed absorption, but I didn’t want carbs before bed).
Using the above strategy worked just fine. But a few months ago I decided to try one of the newer types of creatine, a pH buffered creatine called Kre-Alkalyn. The benefits of this newer formulation is that it is more stable, absorbs better (so taking it with a carb is not necessary), and the dosage is much smaller because a much higher amount of it actually makes it to the muscles. And since the dose is so much smaller, it does not need to be cycled (that’s my favorite part of the Kre-Alkalyn). Also, since the dose is lower, it has less of a tendency to make a person feel bloated, although I never felt much of that with the plain creatine mono powder anyways.
The biggest drawback to the Kre-Alkalyn is that it’s more expensive than creatine monohydrate powder. So look at your budget to help you decide if you want the cheap monohydrate powder, or if you want to spring for the Kre-Alklalyn. After using it for about 4 months, I really prefer the Kre-Alkalyn. Although as part of my supplement free Round 5 experiment, I will be using no creatine for the next 4 months anyways.
One common question I keep getting is dosage — with the Kre-Alkalyn, I take 2 tabs before my workout, as directed on the bottle. And when I was taking the creatine mono powder, I’d take about 5g in the morning with my R/R following the workout, and another 5g in the evening with my whey and water.
Another common question I get is about the creatine levels in R/R formula and preworkouts. R/R has a very small amount of creatine, and it does NOT need to be cycled. Pre-workouts typically have enough creatine that they DO need to be cycled, but not enough that they satisfy your complete dose (most pre-workouts have about 3g, and the recommended daily amount of creatine supplementation is 5-10g). So if you are using both a pre-workout and a creatine supplement, you should take the pre-workout before your workout, and then take your supplement of creatine after your workout (preferably with a recovery drink). And then take one other serving of creatine during your day.
And about creatine cycling, if you use mono powder, you’ll need to go 2 months on, 1 month off — and I think that best matches with using creatine mono for months 2 and 3 of your round of P90X, and then cycling off for the first month of the next round.
And as for when to take creatine, during your “on” cycle (if you use the mono powder), take it daily (regardless of what workout you are doing that day). Even take it on rest days during your 2 month on-cycle.
And on a related note, don’t take the pre-workout every day — only when you need that extra boost for your workout (which for me was both lifting and cardio workouts, but not ab workouts).
I also get asked a lot if someone should avoid creatine while trying to lose body fat. My answer is NO! Creatine has no effect on body fat. It will slow your weight loss by virtue of the fact that it retains fluids in the muscles, but it won’t slow your fat loss. (Remember, we care more about FAT loss than WEIGHT loss). So even when dropping fat, go for it if you want the benefits of creatine for your muscle growth and strength. I used creatine during my Round 1 and it turned out just fine!
I just wanted to update you guys since it seems that I still get tons of creatine questions – usually stuff that I’ve already answered in the Scoop on Creatine article (but folks don’t see it since I wrote it several months ago). Either that or they are wondering if I’m liking the Kre-Alkalyn, so I wanted to follow up about that.
I hope that helps update y’all on my experience with creatine. It’s a great supplement for those looking to build muscle mass. It has no effect on body fat, so it isn’t something you should avoid if you are trying to lose body fat. And it’s very safe.
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