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Most frequent questions and answers


Very simply, creatine monohydrate or simply known as creatine is a compound which comprises nitrogen and the 3 amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. Creatine is produced by our body and it is also found naturally in foods such as meat, eggs and fish. Getting sufficient creatine from the diet alone is not really possible unless you follow the carnivore diet. Otherwise, you can get creatine only by supplementation.


Creatine supplies energy to the muscles in your body. In the human body, creatine is produced in the kidney, liver and pancreas and is then transported to the muscles. Most of the creatine found naturally in our body is stored in the skeletal muscle, where it is converted into creatine phosphate and is used to top-up the body’s ATP (energy source of the body) levels and the energy is utilized by the body for all the metabolic functions.

Adenosine triphosphate or ATP is responsible for providing energy that helps muscles contract. When the muscles contract, the ATP loses a phosphate molecule and becomes ADP and for the muscles to keep working, the ADP must be converted back to ATP, which helps to recharge the muscles. This entire process helps to extend the time that you are able to sustain any high-threshold activity and it also boosts the body’s capacity. This essentially means that you can do more sets of presses, squats and other weight training exercises or you can run at your top speed for longer on the track, etc. Put simply, creatine helps to lengthen the duration of your performance in any kind of anaerobic or quick-burst activity.


Creatine was discovered by Michel Eugene Chevreul, a French scientist in 1832, where he isolated creatine from meat. A Harvard study conducted in 1912 discovered that consuming creatine offered several muscular benefits. Creatine took the nutrition world by storm in the early 90s and the benefits of creatine made it a hot-selling sports nutrition product in the fitness circles and started being used by athletes, bodybuilders and fitness buffs. Creatine is available in the market on its own or as a key element in pre- and post-workout supplements.


Creatine occurs naturally in many foods that we eat. Fresh meats like beef, pork and fish are excellent sources of creatine. A pound of fresh beef contains around 5 grams of creatine, while 1 pound of red meat contains around 2 grams. A pound of salmon and tuna contain around 4.5 grams of creatine. However, creatine is very sensitive and when you cook the meat, the creatine in the meat is destroyed. Milk and cranberries are vegetarian options that contain creatine; however, meat is the best natural food source of creatine.


The different forms of creatine are:

  • Creatine Monohydrate: This is the most popular form of creatine and is found naturally in the human body and is used in supplements.
  • Micronized Creatine:This is also a form of creatine monohydrate and it mixes much better than regular creatine monohydrate as it is refined to its micronized form.
  • Creatine Ethyl Ester:This of creatine monohydrate includes an ester and is absorbed very easily by the body.


Boosts the Energy Produced by Muscles

The muscles in your body contain phosphocreatine which helps to form new ATP that is used by the cells for all the basic functions and for energy. When you exercise, the ATP is broken down in order to produce energy. The ATP re-synthesis rate restricts your capability to perform at maximum intensity continuously and the body uses the ATP faster than it is built up. Creatine supplements can help to increase the stores of phosphocreatine in the body and allows the body to produce more energy in order to deliver energy to the muscles during high-intensity workouts.  This is how creatine supplementation can help in enhancing performance levels.

Helps in Other Muscle Functions

Creatine is extremely effective when it comes to adding muscle mass. Creatine alters the various cellular pathways that result in the growth of new muscle and also boosts the production of protein which plays a very important role in creating new muscle fibers. It also helps to stimulate the AKT/PKB pathway and increases the IGF-1 levels which stimulate the building of muscle mass in the body. Having a creatine supplement helps in cell volumization i.e. it increases the water content in the muscles and this causes the muscles to increase in size. Creatine supplements can also help to decrease the myostatin level in the body, which is responsible for inhibiting muscle growth and reduction in myostatin helps in building the muscles faster.

Enhances High-Intensity Exercise Performance

Creatine plays a very important role in energy production and this, in turn, can help to boost the high-intensity exercise performance significantly, by around 15%. Creatine can help in improving several factors such as strength,muscle mass,resistance to fatigue, muscle endurance, ballistic power,ability to sprint,recovery and brain performance. Creatine provides several advantages irrespective of your present fitness level.

Hastens Muscle Growth

Creatine has proved to be an excellent supplement that helps in adding muscle mass. Just taking it for a period of 5-7 days can help to increase your muscle size and also your lean body weight. The initial increase in muscle size may be due to the increased water content in the muscles; however, in the long run, creatine also helps in the growth of fiber muscle by signaling the key biological pathways and also by increasing the performance in the gym.

A study showed that participants underwent a 6-week training and the individuals who added creatine supplementation to the routine put on 4.4 lbs muscle mass compared to the people who did not consume creatine. A review stated that compared to all the sports supplements available, creatine is among the best. Not only does it produce the best results, it also the safest and least expensive.


Other Health Benefits of Creatine

May Help in Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is caused due to the reduction of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain and when there is a huge fall in the dopamine levels, this causes the death of brain cells accompanied by serious symptoms such as loss of muscle function, speech impairment and tremors. A study on mice has shown creatine to be beneficial for Parkinson’s by preventing the drop in dopamine levels by 90%. In human beings suffering from Parkinson’s disease, combining weight training along with creatine supplementation can help in improving daily function and strength.

Can Help to Combat Other Neurological Diseases

Usually, the cause of severalneurological diseases is due to the reduction in levels of phosphocreatine in the brain. It is seen that creatine can increase the levels of phosphocreatine, which can help to slow or reduce the progression of the neurological disease.

A study showed that creatine supplementation restored the phosphocreatine levels in the brain of mice suffering from Huntington’s disease by up to 72% of the pre-disease level. This helped to reduce the cell death rate by 25% and also maintain the daily function. Research shows that creatine supplementation can also help in the treatment of other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease,epilepsy,spinal cord or brain injuries and ischemic stroke. Creatine supplementation has also shown benefits in the case of ALS, which is a disease that affects the motor neurons. Creatine helped to reduce the muscle loss, improve the motor function and extend the rate of survival by around 17%.

Can Help to Improve the Brain Function

Creatine pays a vital role in the functioning of the brain and brain health. While performing difficult tasks, the brain needs a high amount of ATP and creatine supplements can help to increase the phosphocreatine stores in the brain and boost the production of ATP. Creatine also boosts the brain function by improving the mitochondrial function and improving dopamine levels.

Typically, meat is the best source of creatine, while vegetarians have low levels of creatine as they do not eat meat. A study showed around 20% – 50% improvement in the intelligence scores and memory in vegetarians after they consumed creatine. Creatine supplements also showed a significant improvement in recall and memory in elderly persons after 2 weeks of creatine supplementation. Other studies reveal that creatine supplementation in elderly people can help to improve the brain function, prevent neurological diseases and also reduce the loss of strength and muscle due to aging.

Help to Lower Blood Sugar Levels and Combat Diabetes

According to research, creatine supplements can help to lower blood sugar levels, which may be due to the function of GLUT4, which is a transporter molecule that provides blood sugar to the muscles. A study spanning 12 weeks shows that people who exercised along with taking creatine supplements could control their blood sugar levels compared to the people who only exercised.

Can Help to Reduce Fatigue

Having creatine supplements can help in reducing tiredness and fatigue. A study revealed that when patients suffering from traumatic brain injury consumed creatine supplements, experienced a 50% reduction in dizziness compared to those who did not have the supplement. Also, only 10% of the patients who had the creatine supplement suffered from fatigue compared to 80% of those who did not have the creatine supplement. Another research study revealed that creatine supplementation helped to increase energy levels and reduced fatigue in people who were sleep deprived. Creatine supplementation also helps to reduce fatigue that is induced by exercise in athletes and helps in decreasing fatigue when you exercise in high heat conditions.


Although there have been many controversies surrounding the use of creatine, studies have proved that it not only has numerous benefits, it is also very affordable and quite safe to use. You can buy creatine online or at any health store. Creatine supplementation, its effectiveness and safety have been researched for over two centuries and several studies support the safety of creatine use in the long-term. People using creatine supplements for up to 5 years did not show any adverse effects.

The IJSM (International Journal of Sports Medicine) reported a few side effects with long-term usage of creatine such as gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea and diarrhea. In a study, participants took around 10 grams of creatine daily for a period of 1 year and only 175 people claimed to have problems. And, problems with creatine usually occur when very high amounts are taken at once or when your water consumption is not adequate.

Creatine supplementation is extremely easy and a dose of 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate is sufficient. Creatine can be taken any time of the day; however, taking creatine post a workout produces the best results. A study conducted in 2013 revealed that creatine consumption after workout leads to better strength gains and a better body composition when compared to taking it before a workout. Another study showed that 5 grams of regular creatine intake was safe.


In the past, fitness experts recommended creatine loading, where you needed to take creatine powder 0.3 grams/kg of your body weight for a period of 5-7 days to ensure maximum saturation of your muscle tissue and this period was followed by 3-5 grams of maintenance dose per day. This approach is quite effective and you can see results faster; however, it is not really required. Taking just the 3-5 grams per day works well without going through the loading phase. For larger people with big muscle mass or those who follow higher activity levels, a higher dosage of around 10 grams per day may be more effective.

Many experts recommend that after 3-4 weeks of taking creatine, you must stop taking it for 1-2 weeks before you start again. However, this is not really necessary and you can take it continuously without stopping. But, stopping the creatine in between can help the muscles to be more sensitive and your gains may be better when you restart after taking a short break.

A very important thing to note is that creatine is not a steroid and does not have the harmful effects of taking steroids. Also, when you stop taking creatine, you do not lose the gains you experienced while taking it. Studies show that loss in performance when cycling of creatine can be wide-ranging and you can maintain the progress that you have made for a period of 4-12 weeks of being creatine-free.


Most of the research that has been done so far has resulted in positive benefits with the consumption of creatine monohydrate. It is a good idea to always buy a high-quality creatine supplement and avoid inferior and cheap options that guarantee greater advantages but do not deliver. A study done in 2012, compared creatine monohydrate with buffered creatine and did not find that it to be more effective or safer. Also, it was found that creatine ethyl ester was not as effective as creatine monohydrate when it came to improving muscle mass, body composition, power and strength.   

In short, creatine is an excellent supplement that is extremely safe to use in the long term. It offers powerful health benefits, may have neuroprotective properties and is great in boosting sports performance. Overall, creatine is a great all-round supplement and if you’re looking to improve your endurance, muscle size, strength and also your cognitive function, then it may be worth giving creatine supplements a try.

Learn more about Sigma Labs’ Pure Creatine Monohydrate.

BCAA’S 101 


There are mainly 9 essential amino acids required by our body; however, these amino acids are not produced by the body and must be obtained from our diet or via supplementation. Of the 9 essential amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine are known as BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and are different from the rest, as the molecular structure of these amino acids are branched.


BCAAs comprise a very large portion of the amino acids and account for around 35-40% of all the essential amino acids in the body and around 14-18% of the amino acids present in the muscles.

BCAAs are mainly broken down in the muscles, unlike most of the other amino acids, which are broken down in the liver and this is the key to BCAAs playing an important role in the production of energy during exercise. Apart from this, BCAAs have other important functions in the body. The body uses the BCAAs as building blocks not only for muscle but for protein synthesis too. By preserving the sugar stores in the liver and the muscles and stimulating the cells to use up the sugar from the bloodstream, BCAAs may play a vital role in the regulation of blood sugar levels in the body. And, when you exercise, BCAAs help to reduce the serotonin produced in the brain, which in turn can help to reduce fatigue during exercise.

Of the 3 types of BCAAs, it is believed that leucine has the most impact on the capacity of the body in muscle building, while, isoleucine and valine help to produce energy and regulate the blood sugar levels in the body.


When you exercise, the amino acids are utilized by the body and the levels of BCAAs get depleted very quickly. BCAA supplementation has shown great benefit in helping to reduce fatigue while you exercise. A report published in JSSM (Journal of Sports Science and Medicine) showed that BCAAs helped to boost exercise performance of endurance athletes by suppressing the production of serotonin by the brain, which causes lethargy, tiredness and fatigue while exercising. Another study reveals that BCAAs can help to lower exertion during exercise by around 7% and mental fatigue by around 15%.

A study also shows that BCAA supplementation can help to boost the mental performance of athletes and there was also an improvement in the running times of slow running athletes. Another study revealed that BCAA supplementation helped to increase muscle strength in males compared to other supplements such as carbohydrate and whey protein supplements.


BCAAs can help to reduce the muscle soreness you may experience after a workout. BCAAs also boosts the synthesis of protein and helps to decrease the breakdown of the muscle protein. According to the JISSN (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition), when BCAAs are taken before and after resistance training, it helps to reduce muscle damage and also hastens recovery.

BCAAs lower the levels of the enzymes lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase in the blood, which cause muscle damage and by lowering these enzymes, the recovery may be improved and also provide protection against muscle damage. Consuming BCAA supplements have also shown to lower levels of DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) in women.

An animal study revealed that leucine helped to prevent excessive inflammation, thereby accelerating the recovery from muscular damage. Participants of several studies who were given BCAAs and asked to rate the levels of muscle soreness after strength training and endurance exercises, rated their levels of soreness to be around 33% lower than those that were given placebos. Some of the participants performed around 20% better when they repeated the strength training exercises after 24-48 hours when they were given BCAAs. However, it was seen that the effects of BCAA depend mainly on the protein content in your diet and also on the gender.


A lot of people, especially those in bodybuilding, use BCAA supplements to increase muscle mass as studies reveal that BCAAs activate enzymes which are responsible for building muscle and also reduce muscle breakdown. According to the Journal of Nutrition, supplements containing higher levels of leucine are particularly seen to be effective in building muscle. BCAA supplementation may also be beneficial for those who experience muscle wastage due to age or illness.


BCAA supplements can help in improving overall respiration and helps to decrease the carbon dioxide levels by 9%, which usually increases when exercising. It also helps to increase the oxygen intake by around 19%. BCAAs also enables the body to receive and process oxygen at higher rates.


BCAAs can help people with liver disease. It helps to increase nutrition and sleep and also reduces fatigue in patients suffering from liver cirrhosis. A study revealed that BCAA supplementation in patients suffering from liver cirrhosis and hepatitis helped to increase the albumin level in the blood that helps to treat both the diseases. BCAAs are also used in patients suffering from liver diseases to restore and preserve the muscle mass and also improve hepatic encephalopathy (a complication caused due to liver disease).


BCAAs help to reduce the risk of kidney failure by around 40% and decrease the risk of kidney damage by increasing the levels of amino acids without increasing the protein consumption. It also helps to improve nutrition and appetite in patients undergoing dialysis.


Animal studies show that BCAA supplements helped to improve functions such as decreased heart rate, weight loss and increased heart function, survival time and mitochondrial function after inducing cardiac cachexia and heart failure in rats. In human beings, BCAAs help to break down the deficiencies which increase the risk of heart disease.


BCAAs can help to boost weight loss and prevent weight gain. Studies reveal that people consuming 15 grams of BCAAs have a 30% lesser risk of becoming obese or overweight. So, if you are trying to lose weight, consuming BCAA supplements can help to burn extra fat effectively. A study revealed that wrestlers who consumed a low-calorie, high-protein diet with BCAA supplements lost 3.5 pounds and 0.6% body fat more than wrestlers who consumed the same number of calories, less protein and a soy-protein supplement. Another study revealed weightlifters who consumed 14 grams of BCAAs daily lost 1% more of body fat in an 8-week period and also gained 4.4 pounds more muscle compared to those who consumed 28 grams of whey protein daily.


BCAAs may help to regulate blood sugar levels. Leucine and isoleucine help to increase the secretion of insulin and causes the muscles to absorb sugar from the blood and as a result, lowering the blood sugar levels. However, this may be applicable in only certain cases and more studies are needed to support this. In fact, in some cases, consumption of BCAA supplements along with a high-fat diet could lead to insulin resistance.


Several protein-rich foods are fantastic sources of BCAAs which include:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Milk and cheese
  • Beans and lentils
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Eggs
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts

An excellent source of BCAAs is whey protein, which also has the highest concentration of leucine. Typically, the leucine requirement is around 1-3 grams per day. However, in order to optimize the anabolic pathway for growth and repair of the muscles, you require around 8-16 grams of leucine per day.

A 3 oz. serving of whey protein has around 8 grams of leucine, which is probably why whey protein helps to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. It is probably also why it is considered the perfect fitness food and is usually consumed before or after a workout.

A study in the MSSE journal (Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise) revealed that amino acids present in high-quality whey protein also activates cellular mechanisms known as mTORC-1. This, in turn, boosts the thyroid function, promotes synthesis of muscle protein and also protects the testosterone levels from declining after a workout.

However, you must always ensure that the whey protein that you are consuming is of the highest quality and that the supplement is obtained from grass-fed, organically raised raw cow milk. This ensures that the whey protein is GMO-free and also free from hormones and pesticides. The whey protein should be cold processed, as the delicate molecular structure of the whey is destroyed by heat.


If you plan to consume BCAA supplements, then the amount you require depends on your individual requirements, exercise and health goals. According to a recent research, the daily BCAA requirement can be as high as around 65 mg per pound of body weight and healthy adults must consume:

  • Men:Minimum of 12 grams of BCAAs daily.
  • Women:Minimum of 9 grams of BCAAs daily.

If your diet comprises protein-rich foods, then there is no need to take any supplements; however, if you are an athlete or into heavy resistance training, in such cases, having BCAA supplements in doses ranging between 10-20 grams daily can be beneficial. Also, the best time to take BCAA supplements is just before or after your workout and if you’re trying to gain muscle, then taking these supplements in the morning and before going to bed is also beneficial.


Usually, BCAA supplements are quite safe and do not have any side effects. Generally, consumption of BCAAs between 15-35 grams daily is considered safe. However, the consumption of BCAAs should be limited for people suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS or those suffering from maple syrup urine disease, which is a rare congenital disorder, as the bodies cannot process and break down the BCAAs properly.

BCAA supplements can provide several health benefits, especially when you are looking at boosting physical performance and improvement in muscle growth. The best part is that BCAAs are present in several types of protein-rich foods that you can get via your diet naturally. Or, they can be got by consuming protein supplements. So, consuming BCAA supplements is not really a necessity, but is a great add-on if you’d like to maximize your workouts and reap the several other benefits of BCAAs.

Why Pycnogenol® French maritime pine bark extract may play an important role with physical activity?

Physical exercise is important to overall health and at the same time increases our body’s need for oxygen. Research indicates Pycnogenol® may play an important role with physical activity because it was shown to aid the body in producing nitric oxide (NO), thus enhancing blood microcirculation and improving blood flow to the muscles. This helps the body achieve peak muscle performance and speeds recovery after exercise, which may result in reduction of muscular aches in both athletes and healthy individuals.

How Pycnogenol® helps relax blood vessels and improves blood flow?

Pycnogenol® stimulates the enzyme “endothelial nitric oxide synthase” (eNOS) for enhanced generation of NO from the precursor molecule L-arginine.

How does Pycnogenol® act as a energy enhancer?

The link between Pycnogenol® and sports endurance was first studied several years ago at California State University. Recreational athletes showed an increase of athlete endurance while supplementing with Pycnogenol® as compared to endurance recorded from participants taking the placebo.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study design, recreational athletes were supplemented with either Pycnogenol® or placebo for 30 days and were then crossed over to the other group for an additional 30 days.  The athletes performed under controlled conditions on a treadmill with individual settings adjusted to 85% of a person’s maximum oxygen consumption to prevent too rapid exhaustion and reduce anaerobic metabolism. Results of the study showed a statistically significant increase of athlete endurance while taking Pycnogenol® as compared to endurance recorded from participants taking the placebo.

Pycnogenol increases endurance on a treadmill

Pycnogenol® aids in muscle recovery and alleviates cramping

An increase in physical activity can lend itself to sore muscles and fatigue which can take several days to subside.

Pycnogenol® was shown to significantly reduce muscular pain and cramps in athletes and healthy, normal individuals. Poor circulation in the muscle is known to cause cramps and the antioxidant improved the cramping in patients due to a stimulation of blood flow to their muscle tissue.

The findings indicate that Pycnogenol® can play an important role in sports by improving blood flow to the muscles and hastening post-exercise recovery.  This is great news to the millions of athletes worldwide and extremely significant for all individuals interested in muscle cramp and pain relief with a natural approach.

Pycnogenol lowers muscular pain in sports

Pycnogenol® enhances blood microcirculation for better blood flow and oxygenation of muscle

Two clinical studies have shown that Pycnogenol® causes vasodilatation and consequently improves blood micro-circulation. An increased presence of oxygen and decreased carbon dioxide after consumption of Pycnogenol® was shown. Pycnogenol® contributes to better blood flow and oxygenation of muscle.