In the midst of my dad’s man-cave (aka the pool house), we sat on a weight bench surrounded by the detritus of supplements and vitamins once coveted, then forgotten, then rediscovered. We were devising a plan, and it’s name was Creatine. Creatine Ethyl Ester, to be more specific, as opposed to the 80’s version of creatine, creatine monohydrate.
Creatine is prized for its ability to super-hydrate muscles; enabling growth, speeding recovery, enhancing performance, and making you look all buff and swollen. There’s a lot more to it than that but I don’t know about it. Creatine monohydrate’s cons were that it tended to cause bloating and sometimes cramping as well. CEE, as the name implies, is esterified, making it much more efficient for the body to absorb. So it virtually eliminates these undesired side effects.
So dad gives me a bucket of CEE and sends me home with instructions to try about 5 grams in my shakes immediately after training. Goody gumdrops, I thought, let’s get the party started.
The bucket of CEE weighs like a bucket of loose chalk would, and has a similar consistency. On the label it tells me that one scoop is 2 grams. Alrighty, says I, I will use twice the scoop. Only I can’t find the scoop. I dig around through the fluffy crumbliness of the creatine for a while; as soon as I break up half, the other half re-solidifies through the pressure. So I give it up and decide that a teaspoon sounds like a pretty good estimate for 4-5 grams of anything. After all, the MSM I'm using tells me the 1/2 a teaspoon is 1.7 grams. If anything I'm undercutting it, right? I put a heaping teaspoon of both MSM and creatine into my shakes for use post-training.
Two days pass. After my training shake, which tastes enormously like drinking aspirin, I feel a gentle yet insistent urge to vomit for a few hours. Amazingly, through this feeling I still have high amounts of energy and continue to live life normally; going to the movies, writing online, washing clothes, blablabla. High energy, urge to vomit.
After four days of two shakes a day, I'm almost out of my protein powder which I find alarming, since the jar is in fact the 2 lbs. macho size. After voicing this concern, along with my realization that I'm eating a gram of protein per pound of body weight (140 lbs.), my roommates give me the crazy eyes and I begin to rethink my plan.
And then, when making my next post-training shake, I find the scoop. At first I think I must be mistaken, it is just a stray bit of plastic among the chalky crumbles of the creatine. No scoop could possibly be that small. There's hardly a scoop to be spoken of, only a brief indentation at the end of a plastic tab. If one were so inclined, a bit of cocaine could be measured as hardly acceptable in this alleged scoop.
See photographic evidence, with commonplace household items (a banana, a teaspoon, my hand) for scale:
You can imagine my consternation to discover that I've been dosing myself with probably 20 grams of creatine, 10 x the recommended amount. After a little research the not at all mystery of my urges to vomit is solved. However I've already made my shake for the day. With a huge pile of creatine sinking into the chocolatey protein powder, my biggest dose ever. Probably 25 grams of creatine. Not wanting to waste what I've already made, I think I'll probably survive.
Of course it tasted more than ever like drinking chocolate-tinted Goody's headache powder. And I got nauseous for hours. The nausea even overrode the energy for a while.
To sum up: a teaspoon does not a measurement of weight make. And something with the consistency of chalk (creatine) will not weigh the same as something with the consistency of light snow (MSM).
Live and learn.
Cutting the protein by 25% at least today and the creatine to 6 grams (loading period). After this week I'll go down to 2 grams per day for three weeks.
Always find the scoop.