Q&A with Mike Furci
I have questions about the use of creatine. I work five to six times a week, I'm pretty fit but I've definitely plateaued. I would like to lose 15 to 20 pounds, but then bulk up, so I recently started a pretty hardcore weight and core-training regimen.
So my questions: I'm interested in taking creatine, but I realize that creatine can lead to weight gain (although I understand most of the time it's actually retained water weight, is that right?) So would I be better off shedding the extra pounds and then taking creatine, or should I start taking it now?
I eat very well, no processed foods, the only sugar I eat is from fruits and vegetables, and I only eat whole grain, unrefined carbs. I eat between 250 and 300g of (mostly whey) protein every other month. Then I drop down to around 150g during between months. There is so much info out there and it seems like everyone has different opinions on the subject.
Thanks a lot for your help Mike,
What do you mean, you want to drop 15 to 20 pounds and then bulk up? Are you saying, “I want to lose 15 to 20 pounds and then gain 15 – 20 pounds back”? It sounds like you are already bulked up. Do you think it will be muscle when you gain it back? Bulking up to gain muscle is a rookie error. “Bulking up” does not speed up the muscle building process. Forget it.
Creatine is perhaps the most researched supplement on the planet. And new data is still mounting on this incredible supplement. Creatine has a whole host of benefits including: increased levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1); stimulating satellite cells to form new muscle fibers; increased type-II muscle fibers; and increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stores, which all lead to increased muscle mass and strength. The weight you gain with creatine is through water retention in the muscle and -- most importantly -- added muscle. It’s good weight.
Muscle drives your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, the more fat you’ll burn. If getting leaner and adding muscle is your goal, creatine is an integral part of a good program as long as your diet and training are on track. Remember, supplements will not make up for lack of diet or training.
It sounds like you’re on the right path concerning your diet. Eliminating processed foods is something that you’ll reap enormous health benefits from, especially in later years. If you are still carrying too much fat, start cutting back on fruit and grains. You don’t need them for health because carbohydrates are a non-essential nutrient.
Protein, on the other hand, is an essential nutrient. It is necessary to maintain and repair every tissue in the body, and has too many other functions to discuss here. Simply, without protein you would die. Your body will take care of all essential functions with protein first before it uses it for unessential actions, like building muscle. Larger muscles are not essential for good health and are not a priority for our bodies. For this reason it’s critical to consume enough protein to build muscle. Although a controversial subject, many researchers on protein metabolism recommend one or more grams per pound of body weight. I am of the belief through personal experience and more than 20 years of training competitors, that one gram per pound of body weight is the low end. By the way, where in the world did you get the idea to cycle you protein monthly? This is just ridiculous -- stop.
What type of whey do you use? If you’re going to us a whey protein, whey isolate is the best form. The best time to consume whey is before and after training because it’s so readily absorbed and floods the body with essential amino acids needed for recovery. I would recommend you use a micellar casein (MC) based protein during the day and before bed.
Also known as milk protein isolate (MPI) or milk protein concentrate (MPC), micellar casein (MC) is derived from skim milk; it’s low in fat and lactose. MC is the natural undenatured form of casein – separated by ultrafiltration – without the use of chemicals or heat.
MC provides one of the most impressive profiles that’s rich in muscle-building amino acids. Because of its coagulating properties. MC has a slow rate of digestion; the body absorbs a steady stream of amino acids over a long period. This not only gives the user enhanced satiety, but leads to MC’s anti-catabolic properties.
MC contains a high level of glutamine, which is a key amino during times of physical and emotional stress. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue and is essential for a properly functioning gastrointestinal tract.
I was wondering if it's okay to take the hardcore ZMA along with the Tribex? Also, would you take the ZMA on non-workout nights?
Great questions. Absolutely it's okay to take Hardcore ZMA along with Tribex. They work to increase your natural testosterone (T) levels through different pathways. An increase in your T level will enhance your wellbeing, your ability to build muscle and burn fat and boost your libido.
As discussed in detail in “More Muscle More Sex Parts I & Part II,” Tribex is a very powerful herb that has been shown to elevate T levels in numerous studies. Many researchers believe this herb increases the levels of luteinizing hormone, which positively influences T levels.
ZMA helps to eradicate a deficiency in the key nutrients zinc and magnesium. When these elements are brought back to normal levels, there is an increase in free testosterone and strength.
The stress from everyday life and training can deplete the body of zinc and magnesium. Scientists have found that even athletes who pay close attention to their diets and supplementation program have a high rate of deficiency. In one study, athletes who supplemented with ZMA for only eight weeks had greater strength gains and higher free T levels than the placebo.
Some individuals who raise the same question as you, Reece, are concerned with attaining super physiologic levels. This, I can guarantee will not happen. These supplements help to boost your body’s natural production of testosterone. People who supplement with these products won't fail a drug test.
On your follow-up question, the answer is yes. ZMA is to be taken every day. You are working against stress in general, not just from workouts.
I have just looked at your website and it's fantastic; it has told me mostly all I need to know. Just a couple of little questions though.
First, I use Maximuscle cyclone, Thermobol and Progain -- is that a good idea?
Second, what exactly does Progain actually do? Does it put fat on you to turn into muscle or does it put muscle on you?
Finally, I pretty much do what you said for both biceps and triceps. Should I do both biceps and triceps on the same day? Also, is it okay to do bicep and triceps workout twice a week?
Thank you very much I’m looking forward to receive an e-mail back.
Let’s start with Cyclone, “Britain’s #1 selling ‘all in one’ muscle formula.” This is what Maximuscle claims, anyway. Because I have never heard of these products, I needed to do a little research in order to give you an appropriate response. Unfortunately there is very little information about Maximuscle products out there. However, there’s quite a bit of coverage discussing their athletic sponsorships; this means nothing in terms of product quality because many athletes will say they eat shit if the price is right.
When figuring out what supplements to take, it’s not only important to look at the ingredients list, but the amounts of each ingredient. In the U.S., ingredients have to be listed in a descending order by weight. The number one ingredient in Cyclone is dextrose -- SUGAR! The proprietary protein blend they call Biomax is the second. Creatine, glutamine, EFAs and other ingredients like flavoring round out the rest of the product.
As a post-workout product Cyclone appears to be fair. Maximuscle claims their proprietary blend of protein includes three types: whey protein isolates, whey protein hydrolysates and whey peptides. In your quest for muscular size, protein is the single most important nutrient you can consume. Although I cannot assure you of the contents of Cyclone, I can say with certainty the protein content per serving is too low and the sugar is too high.
I recommend purchasing a quality protein product and adding your own creatine and sugar. Some of the proteins I recommend are: Pro Complex, 4Ever Whey Isolate, Gold Standard 100% whey, Isobolic Isolate Protein and Monster Milk.
Thermobol is nothing special. Does it work? There is some evidence suggesting that ingredients like citrus aurantium (bitter orange peel) or green tea extract help to mobilize fat to use as fuel. Does this mean you’ll get leaner if you take Thermobol? I doubt it. If products like this really worked they would sell like crazy. Such is not the case. The best way to find out if Thermobol or similar products work is to use it while changing nothing else. If you start to diet and/or increase your training while using these types of products, how do you know if it works?
Finally, Progain. Even though I do not prescribe to using “weight gainers,” because the whole premise behind their use is ludicrous, there are two reasons to use a weight gainer. One, you’re either under weight (skinny) or two, you want to gain weight for the sake of gaining weight and could care less how you look. Just remember, gaining fat or “bulking up” is not a prerequisite to gain muscle.
The main ingredient in most weight gainers is sugar, while the main ingredient in Progain is oligofructose. Oligofructose does not digest in the upper GI tract, which yields a reduced caloric value. Most importantly, oligofructose does not lead to a rise in glucose levels, which helps to keep insulin levels low. Even though the level of protein in Progain is too low, if you’re going to take a “weight gainer” this is a good one.
If you’re training as intensely as you should, training your arms once a week is plenty. If you’re not making gains and you’re training with 10 percent intensity, you’re overtraining and you need to cut back on the volume or frequency of your workouts. I hope you’re training your entire body. Balance is an essential component to a strong healthy physique.
I read your reviews on Tribex, 6oxo, AlphaMale and ZMA. What I was wondering is, do you take these products individually or could you combine two together (like ZMA and Tribex)? Would that be too much? I presume you wouldn't mix Tribex and 6oxo.
Hope this makes sense.
These supplements all work via different pathways. So technically you could take them together. Would this yield better results? I'm not so sure you would get a synergistic effect. I recommend taking ZMA at night, while cycling the Tribex and 6oxo month to month.
Our bodies work constantly to stay in homeostasis; all the chemical actions in our bodies are kept within “normal” ranges. If your testosterone starts to get beyond normal physiological levels, the body takes measures to reduce it. It is this feedback loop that would inhibit the synergistic effect of using more than one product.