When Creatine Monohydrate exploded onto the supplement scene with research showing massive lean-mass and strength gains, I jumped straight on it. Then I jumped onto the toilet as my guts exploded. Musashi creatine did that. Consistently!
As the hype of research and real-world results intensified and more products entered the market, I kept retrying creatine. And I kept getting zero benefit from it. Not a single kilo of weight gain. Not a single rep of improved performance. Nothing.
At the time, for many years, I was religiously consuming a kilo of red meat per day. Apparently that much meat delivers about 5g of creatine so I figured, maybe, if creatine really did do anything, I was possibly already “loaded” with it? I also figured creatine fit the 3 golden rules that all bodybuilders (should) discover over the years:
1) Supplementation is all about diet
2) OTC supplements are generally ineffective
3) studies by academics generally have zero application in the real world
Like virtually all bodybuilders, I continued falling into the trap of thinking I could outsmart my body’s biology by inventing massively complicated diet and training protocols, while deliberately ignoring all of the inherent contradictions of my own imagined genius. So, in the early 2000’s I decided to experiment with cyclic ketogenic diets. And like all moron bodybuilders who think they are clever, I thought I would cobble together the best parts of different “expert’s” advice to devise my own expert-stack of scientifically proven brilliance. That is, I selected slices of poo from various piles of academic faeces to make my own Franken-Turd keto diet protocol.
Of course it failed outright, as does every over-complicated nutrient-timing, exercise interval, faux-intensity program. But I did learn some interesting things… aside from the fact that you really can’t outsmart yourself with your own BS! I particularly discovered Creatine did do something for me.
I selected slices of poo from various piles of academic faeces to make my own Franken-Turd keto diet protocol. Of course it failed outright. But I discovered Creatine did do something!
My Cyclic Keto Experiment
At the start of the cyclic ketogenic experiment I was ~98kg. I fell to 92.5kg on the first keto phase and then rebounded 7kg to 99.5kg on the high carb diet phase.
The next 3 week keto-carb cycle repeated the first numbers almost exactly. The 99.5kg peak dropped back to the same 92.5kg low.
The third cycle I added Gentec Creatine 320 to the high carb phase and saw my weight jump 10kg in 7 days; 3kg more than the previous carb cycles, on the same carb diet. It was the first time I’d experienced a dramatic, measured boost from creatine or any supplement. And, no stomach upset.
On the next keto phase my weight fell to a 94kg low, 1.5kg higher than the previous low. The only variable changed was the creatine added to the prior carb diet.
On the next carb load phase, again with Gentec Creatine, I repeated the 10kg gain in 7 days, peaking at 104kg; 4.5kg heavier than 4 weeks earlier, with no change in diet protocol or bodyfat. Interesting.
I added Gentec Creatine 320 to the high carb phase and saw my weight jump 10kg in 7 days
So creatine put 4.5kg of muscle on me in 4 weeks? Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.
If I’d put on 4.5kg of real muscle then I would have been dramatically stronger. I was marginally stronger; but not dramatically. The lack of strength performance improvement convinced me to discontinue that silly diet protocol. That and the fact it was a stupid diet based on a dumb idea.
How much actual muscle had been gained was difficult to determine when all of my body composition measurements were so skewed by my dramatically fluctuating state of hydration.
In the dehydrated state at the end of each keto phase my skinfolds – like virtually all people – were significantly reduced. I measured leaner (~8% down from ~8.5%) – and looked much leaner – but I hit the same low each keto phase. So I wasn’t getting leaner or fatter. This was a good lesson in why basing your diet and training decisions on what you see in the mirror is so stupid. Anything that dehydrates you will probably give you the impression of getting leaner when, in reality, anything could be happening; you could even be fatter and losing muscle.
At my most bloated, at the end of the carb phase, the skinfold measurements would each go up 1.5-2.5mm over the keto phase, as is expected. But they were even slightly higher with the creatine phases. I knew it wasn’t fat but water. But it was still interesting that there was measurably more.
Returning to a more consistent, moderate diet (my preferred 40:20:40 ratio of protein:carb:fat, at the time) saw my body stabilise within a week to ~99.5kg at ~8.5% and my strength performance reflect that ~1.5kg gain (deadlift calculated max up 7kg to 352kg).
For a 10 week training and diet experiment, that was hardly a resounding success. The most interesting factor was the creatine contribution which seemed to be solely responsible for the net gain by the end.
High vs Low Carb Diets and Creatine
Loading and stopping the creatine on my 40:20:40 diet made zero difference. I did not gain when loading (30g daily) or lose when I stopped. Literally nothing happened.
Much research has found that high carb diets dramatically improved the lean mass gains of creatine. But then some direct research measured the uptake of creatine by muscle cells to be barely affected by higher insulin or carbohydrate intakes. Imagine that: conflicting research?
This is why I care so little for academic research and do my own. I measure the food. I measure the training. I measure the body composition. If I want to measure the impact of an intervention, I employ the intervention and measure the change in performance and body composition. By being consistent with the other variables, and measuring them, I can draw a valid conclusion. This approach is called “the scientific method”. Its what the scientists do in the studies that everybody likes to read about and quote. The only difference is, I prefer doing it in the real world, on real people, in a real context, for real outcomes. Crazy, huh?
So creatine put 4.5kg of muscle on me in 4 weeks? Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous
This is how I discovered that each time I did any sort of high carb diet, adding Gentec Creatine always added to the acute weight gain. Non-high-carb diets did not see the same effect. Also, other creatines did not seem to work. Other (non Creapure) Creatine monohydrates didn’t. Kre-alkalyn didn’t. Creatine Ethyl Ester didn’t. Creatine phosphate didnt. I don’t know why? I don’t care. Good creatine did what little creatine did. I learned that when you discover something that objectively and irrefutably works, its probably best not to mess with it.
Also, newer dosing protocols never even made sense, let alone did anything. For example, you cannot take a dose of creatine before and after a workout and expect anything of benefit to occur. Thats like eating a sandwich before a marathon and thinking you carb loaded. Its way too little, way too late. The only way to dose creatine is frequent doses, every day, with every meal possible.
My Surprising New Findings
In recent years I have observed another bigger and more surprising benefit not specifically mentioned in research: creatine can significantly prevent fat gain on high carb diets.
Because of my success with creatine and high-carb diets in myself and others, I tend to recommend creatine to any client trying to gain lean weight using a high carb diet. I started noticing that clients on this protocol can be progressing nicely and consistently, until they happened to stop the creatine. Then things went bad.
The pattern is: the client is on a high carb diet with creatine. They are gradually gaining lean mass (muscle) and strength. Bodyfat is holding. We keep gradually and incrementally raising the calories each week or 2 to maintain the rate of progress as best as possible, being guided by the body composition measurements as to how aggressive or conservative we should be. All is good for week after week after week.
Then they stop the creatine (either forgetting or running out) and we measure a small rise in bodyfat without muscle gain. So we hold the diet where it is and go another week.
The next week the fat is up again. So we hold or maybe even drop the diet back a touch. Training performances stagnate confirming the halt in progress.
The next week the fat rises again and the muscle has still gone nowhere or even backwards. Training performances continue to lag.
At this point, reintroducing the creatine doesn’t seem to reverse the body recomposition reversal. Dropping calories back does not help either. For whatever reason, the progressive momentum is broken and a decisive change in dietary direction is required before rebuilding the high carb diet up again.
I honestly have no idea why or how this pattern occurs? Not that ‘how’ or ‘why’ matters. It is so remarkably common its relatively predictable and so I’ve learned how to spot it and respond.
At a certain point the same pattern does occur even with continued creatine supplementation. But it takes probably 3x longer, and after considerably more lean muscle gain with creatine than using the same dietary protocol without creatine. Of interest, the other consistent factor is training intensity. People who genuinely push to hit new PB’s every workout on the big exercises always progress further, faster, for longer than everybody else.
Well, that’s it; my real-world findings with Creatine. After trying many different kinds and brands, I now personally only use Gentec creatine. Its as good as it gets and I’ve measured the results in myself and others with it, while failing to get the same from other products. I’m sure the same quality creatine is available from some other brand. But I’m sick of wasting money to try to find the same thing as Gentec consistently provides.
In terms of my personal interests, I pay for my Gentec Creatine at a retail store like anybody else. It genuinely is my choice of product. Gentec CEO, Nick Jones is a close personal friend which only adds to be confidence in the product. Until he reads this, he doesn’t even know I buy his creatine from Evelyn Faye. I don’t vouch for any other ergogenic supplement, let alone put my money into one. Gentec creatine is it.