Are you training 4-5 times per week and not seeing the results you hoped for? Have you looked into supplementing but not sure on what they will do to you?
Worry no more! We asked personal trainer Brad Klein to discuss the effects of creatine and protein and how they can help you to achieve your fitness goals. Take it away Brad…
I am a true believer that anyone in any physical state can accomplish what it takes when it comes to sculpting his or her perfect physique. Although genetics play a large part in how long this takes and the overall aesthetic look that will be realised, supplements can help massively.
How does it work?
Creatine is naturally formed when the breakdown of amino acids takes place, primarily in the liver or kidney. It is mainly used as an energy source when working anaerobically at a high intensity. It is carried to the working muscles (predominantly skeletal) through the blood, to provide it with the energy source that is required for explosive contractions. Although it allows for such contractions, the energy breakdown know as ATP is very small and only lasts for a short period of time before the source is depleted. This is the stage in an exercise where you can no longer move the weight, no matter how badly you want to complete those last 2 reps!
What does it do?
Using a creatine supplement increases the amount of creatine phosphate that is delivered to the working muscle resulting in a slightly larger breakdown of ATP, thus allowing for longer periods working at a high intensity. Being able to train at this higher intensity, lifting that extra 10lb or increasing the reps by 2-3 forces the muscles to grow bigger and stronger in order to be able to cope with the added demand.
Your weight will quickly increase in the first week and this is likely to be down to water retention in the muscle allowing for an increase in protein synthesis (will be explained further down). From then on, any weight gains will be lean muscle mass due to the higher weight load and working rate. This will only be achieved if you take advantage of the extra energy stores and hit it hard!
The added boost of creatine doesn’t work for everybody, this comes down to genetics. So if you find you are gaining steadily without it, stick without it.
What type of creatine?
There is a lot of debate about creatine monohydrate vs creatine ethyl ester. In my opinion from personal use, backed by scientific research, creatine ethyl ester has no added benefits over monohydrate, but others may disagree.
How does it work?
The majority of fitness athletes and bodybuilders can be seen consuming protein shakes two, sometimes three times per day, but why?
Protein is the foundation needed to promote and support muscle growth and repair after those hard training sessions. It can be found mainly in the form of a protein powder or a pill (commonly amino acids).
Protein goes through a stage called protein synthesis, which is when the protein is broken down to create the amino acids needed for muscle tissue growth. When weight training or taking part in intense physical activity, the body’s demand for protein is greater and requires higher levels than usual. This added protein intake allows for the building and repairing of muscle tissues to happen at a faster rate.
Although protein is by no means a fat loss supplement, it aids in doing so by increasing the metabolic rate, suppressing food cravings and keeping you fuller for longer.
What does it do?
Your goals will determine what sort of protein you should use. For lean muscle gains, you should take a whey protein with low to moderate carbohydrate content and a low fat content.
If you want to gain muscle mass at a slightly higher rate but allowing for an increase in body fat and water retention, then a high calorie, high carbohydrate protein shake would be required. This added carbohydrate provided the body with more energy in form of starch and glycogen but if the energy is not used, it is stored as fat.
These types of protein should be used through the day whether that would be on waking, pre or post gym that is up to you. I consume mine within 20 minutes, post workout.
What type of protein?
Casein protein powder is a must in my opinion, and I always use it! This is a protein supplement that should be taken just before you go to sleep. Unlike whey protein that has a fast breakdown, casein is much slower and is broken down over a 6-hour period. During the day it would be unnecessary because you are – or should be – supplying your body with a protein source every 3 hours.
However when you sleep, that’s when all your hard work in the gym pays off as your body can repair itself most effectively. That is why casein works so brilliantly as it is constantly being utilised throughout the night before you wake and eat your first meal of the day!
And in conclusion…
But don’t think for a minute that you will turn into Steve Cook or Phil Heath overnight just by adding these supplements into your diet. It will take time, even years to achieve such goals alongside cardio and a healthy diet. That isn’t to say you can’t have the odd treat or go out for a meal and a drink with your friends. Its all about balance and being in control!
By Brad Klein
Follow @BradKFitness on twitter