Creatine is one of the most popular supplements on the planet. Many fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders take Creatine to help them build muscle mass. However, bodybuilders are not the only individuals who use Creatine. In fact, many athletes, wrestlers, cyclists and swimmers take Creatine to boost their athletic performance in a safe manner. Even though Creatine was first discovered approximately 2 centuries ago and has undergone tremendous research and “real life testing”, the number of people who are still confused about Creatine, its benefits and uses is quite high. This article aims to uncover what Creatine is, its benefits, bust some myths and teach you how to use it properly.
- Creatine is a well-studied ergogenic aid.
- Creatine is effective for most people.
- Creatine is 100% safe unless you have pre-existing liver or kidney conditions.
- Creatine Monohydrate is the most well-researched form of Creatine.
- Creatine is NOT a steroid.
- Creatine helps build muscle mass, increase strength, boost endurance, speed up recovery and delay muscular fatigue.
- Creatine does not need to be recycled.
- Creatine can be used indefinitely.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that has been proven to increase athletic performance. Creatine is also the most researched sports supplement to this day! Creatine was first discovered in 1832 when a French scientist named Chevreul. He was able to isolate Creatine from skeletal muscle extract. Chevreul then named what he discovered after the Greek word “Kreas” which means flesh. Shortly after, a German scientist that goes by the name Justus von Liebig confirmed that Creatine is a regular component of flesh. The first form of Creatine to be ever used as a sports supplement was Creatine Monohydrate. Moreover, Creatine Monohydrate is also the most well-researched form of Creatine. Based on anecdotal reports, the use of Creatine Monohydrate as an ergogenic aid dates back to the early 1990’s when two of the British track team’s Olympic champions used it to boost their performance.
So, what is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring water-soluble substance that helps recycle energy within muscle and brain tissue. The human body is capable of synthesizing Creatine, more specifically in the liver and kidneys. Young adults can produce about 1 gram of Creatine per day. Since Creatine is also a primary constituent of flesh, individuals who eat an omnivorous diet can expect to acquire about 1 gram of Creatine just by eating meat. Upon ingestion, Creatine converts into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is what muscle cells use as their energy source. Thus, supplementing with additional Creatine will ultimately boost the amount of energy available for your muscle cells.
Benefits of Creatine
Contrary to popular belief, Creatine is not only a beneficial supplement for those looking to build muscle. Here are some additional benefits of Creatine:
- Boost athletic performance
- Act as a pH buffer in tissues
- Increase strength
- Increase lean body mass
- Speed up recovery
- Boost cognitive function
- Increase lean MUSCLE mass
- Burn fat indirectly by helping you build more metabolically-active muscle tissue
- Boost muscular endurance
- Has some antioxidant properties
- Hydrate muscle cells by increasing water retention within muscles
- Helps delay muscular fatigue
Thus, it makes sense that Creatine can and WILL give you an edge at the gym. Supplementing with additional Creatine will increase water retention within your muscle cells and make them more efficient at recycling energy (ATP). This will boost your muscles’ ability to recover and will help your muscles generate more force during intense workouts. Moreover, your muscles will also experience a nice boost in endurance. So, don’t be surprised when you can bang out a few more reps than you usually can. This is due to the fact your muscles are now more resilient to applied stress (weights) and will not fatigue as fast as they usually do.
Responders vs. Non-Responders
Believe it or not, some people do not respond to Creatine supplementation! If you are one of those people, it’s okay, don’t be upset. Most people will Creatine, though. However, those who do not respond to Creatine simply have higher amounts of Creatine in their bodies already. So, it’s like you are naturally using a Creatine supplement! So, you get the benefits of Creatine and you get to save some money. The reason why supplementing with MORE Creatine will not yield more results is simply because there is a threshold after which effectiveness diminishes. So, while 5 grams of Creatine is the effective dosage, taking 10 grams will not yield double the results. You will be just flushing your money (Creatine) down the toilet.
Different forms of Creatine
Every day, a new form of Creatine appears on the market claiming to be the next best thing. However, Creatine Monohydrate -most basic form- is the most well-researched form of Creatine and the most credible. Here is a list of various Creatine forms:
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Creatine HCL
- Creatine Nitrate
- Creatine Phosphate
- CEE -Creatine Ethyl Ester-
Most well-studied form? Creatine Monohydrate.
Most effective -based on studies-? Creatine Monohydrate.
CEE and Kre-Alkalyn? Bunk. Save your money.
This is not to suggest that ALL other forms of Creatine are bunk and have no benefits. In fact, some do. For instance, very few individuals experience diarrhea and stomach ache when supplementing with Creatine Monohydrate. Thus, a different form of Creatine that has a higher uptake would be beneficial to those individuals. This would allow them to get the benefits of Creatine without experiencing the aforementioned side effects. Such useful forms are: Creatine HCL and Creatine Phosphate.
NOTE: Most individuals who experience diarrhea and stomach ache upon ingestion of Creatine Monohydrate are merely using too much Creatine. Thus, an easy fix would be to stick to regular dosing recommendations.
Safety / Side Effects
All up-to-date studies have confirmed the safety of Creatine supplementation even after long periods of usage. However, since Creatine degrades into Creatinine, those with pre-existing liver and kidney disease SHOULD NOT use Creatine! Otherwise, if you are a healthy adult, you can supplement with Creatine indefinitely. Creatine does NOT need to be recycled.
Facts & Myths
Is Creatine a steroid? No! Creatine is not a steroid. In fact, you have Creatine inside your body as you’re reading this article!
What should I expect from Creatine? More strength, more endurance, more muscle and some other goodies mentioned above.
Will Creatine affect my liver and kidneys? Absolutely not! However, if you have a pre-existing liver or kidney condition, do NOT use Creatine.
Is Creatine suitable for young adults? Yes. Creatine supplementation is suitable for any healthy adult looking to boost their performance and build more muscle.
Do I need to cycle off Creatine? No! Your body doesn’t build tolerance to Creatine. Thus, cycling off Creatine is unnecessary and a waste of time. You can use Creatine indefinitely.
Is Creatine stable in water? No. Upon mixing, Creatine degrades into Creatinine. However, this doesn’t occur as rapidly as many people think. But, if you decide to use Creatine, it’s always best to consume it immediately after you mix it with water/juice. How fast degradation occurs depends on the temperature and acidity of the water.
Should I use capsules or powder? Either is fine. It’s up to your personal preference. However, I find powder to be more convenient.
Can I just eat more meat to get more Creatine? No. Even though meat has Creatine in it, the amount is so small that you will have to consume pounds of meat -and thus calories- before you get the full dosage (5 grams).
My pre-workout has Creatine in it, can I just use that? Once again, no. Simply because the amount of Creatine in your pre-workout will most likely be much less than 5 grams. Thus, getting a separate Creatine supplement is always better. Plus, Creatine is cheap anyway. Moreover, since your pre-workout is most likely stimulant based (has caffeine or other stimulants in it), the benefits of Creatine might be negated by the high amount of Caffeine in your pre-workout. This is because Caffeine could interfere with the recycling process of Phosphocreatine, however, the evidence is limited to one study.
How should I use Creatine?
Protocol during first week = Simply take 20 grams of Creatine (4 * 5 grams per scoop) every day for the first 7 days of starting supplementation to reach saturation point faster.
Protocol after first week = Take 5 grams (1 scoop) every day with a meal or post-workout for maximum absorption.
NOTE: You do NOT have to cycle off Creatine. You can stay on it indefinitely.
Best Creatine supplements
There is no such thing as one perfect supplement. There are many effective and high quality Creatine supplements on the market. If you are interested in cheap and high quality Creatine supplements, make sure you visit Eva’s Supplements website by clicking on the button below.
NOTE: Use the coupon code “fitnotice5” at checkout to get an exclusive 5% discount on your whole purchase plus some free exclusive product samples.
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Barcelos RP, S. S.-G. (2016). Creatine and the Liver: Metabolism and Possible Interactions. Retrieved from PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26202197
Ralf Jäger, M. P. (2011, May). Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Retrieved from PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080578/
Robert Cooper, F. N. (2012, July 20). Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Retrieved from PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/
Brosnan, J.T., da Silva, R.P. & Brosnan, M.E. Amino Acids (2011) 40: 1325. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-0853-y