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I've been trying to get through a whole round of P90x for just about the entire summer with out a lot of luck. I always feel very fatigued and tired during my workout. While, I'm not following the P90x diet plan verbatim I do eat very healthy, and get a good amount of protein in my diet. I also only have 11%-12% body fat according to my electronic scale. So I'm not extremely focused on fat loss, and thus haven't cut carbs completely out of my diet like the program recommends.

Recently I remembered when I was in highshool a good friend of mine used to swear by creatine. I did some research online, and decided to try it. I'm on day 3 of a loading phase, and all I can say is wow it makes a huge difference for me. I feel much more explosive, and can lift more weight with many of the exercises. When I use to be reaching for the pause button I now find my self already with a new set of weights ready to go for the next exercise. After a work out I use to want to crash on the couch, but now I feel like I could go for a run.

I have two questions:

  • First, will this effect wear off as I use it more? Next week when I finish the loading phase, and switch to the regular dosage, will the effect go away or not be as obvious?

  • Second, what does this say about my body? As I understand it Creatine does not affect everyone to the same degree correct? Are there people out there that don't notice the same effects that I'm noticing? Is that because those people already have high levels of Creatine naturally in their system? Does my experience say something about my genetics, diet, or something else about my body?

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2 Answers

Creatine naturally exists in animal protein sources, so it will be effective as long as you are creatine deficient. The perceived benefit of creatine will lessen as you reach the levels your body needs.

Summary of points from Creatine: Side Effects, What it is, What it does:

  • You will gain weight. Initially 2-4lbs water weight, potentially muscle
  • Muscle increases only happen if you exercise
  • It is very hydroscopic--make sure you drink plenty of water
  • Has more pronounced results for vegetarians due to the lack of red meat in their diets.
  • Not everyone responds to creatine
  • It is not recommended for people under 18--due mainly to the lack of studies with people in that demographic
  • "'Save money and buy creatine powder and [mix it with] fruit juice,' Kerksick says."
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Why would the effects lessen as you reach the levels your body needs? And what determines the amount of creatine your body needs? And when is your body 'creatine deficient'? –  pbond Oct 5 '13 at 14:40
    
It's a matter of how saturated your body is with the creatine phosphate. Obviously, the more you consume the more there is available for use. However, there is a saturation point where you body simply can't use more. If you don't normally eat foods already rich in creatine, your body will only manufacture the bare minimum of what it needs for day to day living--not what's needed for vigorous exercise. If you increase your activity beyond your creatine reserves, you are deficient. –  Berin Loritsch Oct 5 '13 at 18:14
    
I understand that there is a saturation point, but why would the effects lessen as you reach that level? The other two questions are still open as well. –  pbond Oct 7 '13 at 16:42
    
When your body is saturated with creatine, it has the most potential for energy it can have. You have to start using it before you can absorb more. Similar to how a sponge will stop absorbing water when it is saturated, but you wring it out and it can absorb more. That's essentially what you are doing with Creatine when you incorporate exercise. And as I mentioned above: If you increase your activity beyond your creatine reserves, you are deficient. At least until you are able to create/eat more. –  Berin Loritsch Oct 7 '13 at 17:22
    
Yes, but why would the effects lessen as you reach that level? You're now describing a saturable process, but a saturable process does not imply that, once saturated, the effects lessen (if this were the case, no one would want to saturate their muscles with creatine). And how can you increase your activity beyond 'creatine reserves'? You don't use up creatine when you exercise, the degradation of creatine to creatinine is a spontaneous process. Only thing which happens during exercise is a temporary shift from phosphorylated to unphosphorylated. –  pbond Oct 8 '13 at 15:14
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Answer on your first question: No, the effects remain the same. When you supplement creatine, it increases total creatine content (including phosphorylated creatine), thus directly implies having a larger energy buffer to regenerate ATP from ADP when the first is hydrolyzed during muscle contraction. This is the core 'function' of creatine and this effect does not wear off when you continue on a maintenance dose (you reach a saturated level of creatine stores in the muscles, however, there is no reason, nor evidence, to believe this effect wears off). In addition, there are some additional purposed mechanisms of action: enhancing mitochondrial respiration, upregulation of several protein kinases which are important in muscle protein synthesis regulation (p38 MAPK, ERK and Akt), proliferation and differentiation of satellite cells, small reduction in myostatin, etc. Once again, there is no evidence that these effects wear off. Moreover, it increases water retention in muscle tissue, which also might positively influence protein synthesis.

To answer your second question: it probably means you are a responder to creatine. Especially people who receive low amounts of creatine in their natural diet (low in [red] meat) benefit from it.

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