Whether you are new to athletics or just hearing about creatine monohydrate, it is one of the most efficient and useful supplements for improving strength, muscle mass, and generally improving physical attributes.
Most people fail to realize that creatine monohydrate requires other features in order to work properly within the human skeletal muscle system. Namely, carbohydrates are useful in improving the amount of creatine in your muscles and the total retained in the body. In some cases, the addition of carbohydrates can improve results by up to 60%.
That’s wonderful to know (thank you scientific inquiry), but for low-carb, Paleo-style dieters, this can spell disaster. There are literally millions of crossfitters and mixed martial artists with a disadvantage using creatine monohydrate unless there is another way to stimulate this activity.
Fenugreek Saves the Day
Upon further study, scientists have discovered that the carbohydrates are not to thank for increased creatine uptake into the muscles. Instead, the insulin from carbohydrate consumption has the biggest impact, which means low-carb dieters only need a replacement for insulin.
There are dozens of unhealthy creatine blends that include heaps of sugar, but none of this is justified or required. Fenugreek is an herb used in Asia for thousands of years. The extract is often used as an aide for diabetes, but further inquiry found:
“…creatine plus fenugreek extract supplementation had a significant impact on upper body strength and body composition as effectively as the combination of 5 g of creatine with 70 g of dextrose [sugar]. Thus, the use of fenugreek with creatine supplementation may be an effective means for enhancing creatine uptake while eliminating the need for excessive amounts of simple carbohydrates.”
So there you have it. Creatine and fenugreek work as effectively as sugar and creatine; mixed martial artists and Paleo dieters can rejoice knowing that perhaps the safest, most well-tested, and effective strength supplement available is just as useful with this alternative.
Timing of Creatine and Workouts
A lot of people make an argument about properly timing supplementation with food and workouts. While some claim that taking creatine prior to a workout can be beneficial, this has little merit. The phosphocreatine system operates differently than most supplements and actually requires up to 2 weeks before results can be seen (for creatine muscle saturation).
Whether you take creatine monohydrate before or after your workout, just make sure to get the proper and effective dosage. Usually 5 grams per day is recommended, which is the equivalent of about 2.5 pounds of red meat. Beginning with 20 grams per day during a loading phase (for approximately 1 week) can also be helpful.
Whatever time of day you decide to take creatine, just know that there are alternatives to sugar-laden creatine blends. The combination of fenugreek and creatine can have the same effect as sugar, which will surely improve your strength gains in the gym or power on the mats.
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