The theory is that when it is ingested, it helps to retain intracellular fluid. This extra retention is supposed to increase protein synthesis. We all know that the human body needs water to survive, and in fact water is the #1 bodybuilding supplement. Well, this extra water and fluid helps to transport the nutrients and substances that our muscles need in order to get bigger. Thus the protein we ingest can be used better by the muscles, after all who cares how much protein we ingest if it isn’t being used by the muscles!
Is it safe?
In my opinion, yes! There are some potential side-effects with creatine, although very minor. There might be an increase in dehydration, this is because all of the fluid is being pulled into the muscles, therefore DRINK LOTS OF WATER! Also, some people have experienced an increase in muscle cramps. This is related to the first point, lack of water. If you are going to be a natural bodybuilder, let alone use creatine…DRINK LOTS OF WATER!
How to use it:
Load up on it (creatine monohydrate) for about a week at 20-30 grams per day in divided doses. After this is done, use a maintenance dose of 5-15 grams per day. You should see results within 2 weeks, and most people gain 2-3 pounds in a few days! It is not necessarily to load up so much with the 3rd generation products, but I use about 3 doses/day during the loading phase, and 1/day for maintenance.
Which one to buy?
Well, Creatine Monohydrate is Creatine Monohydrate… therefore buy the cheapest one which you trust is 99.9% pure and go nuts! There are however many newer products which have a “Transport System.” These are the 2nd generation creatine products. They include something to boost insulin levels, usually a sugar such as dextrose, so that the creatine will be better absorbed.
Drinking creatine with grape juice or other fruit juices will do the same thing. Recently, even newer products (3rd generation) have come out with other more advanced insulin mimickers such as Lypoic acid. This looks very promising for the creatine hardgainer, but not necessary for all users.