You have heard all the buzz at the gym – what is this stuff called “Creatine”? There are many questions regarding the safety and the efficiency of Creatine in workouts.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that is naturally produced in the human body. Creatine assists in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a major source of energy for the muscles.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain foods and produced by the body, primarily in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It is made up of three amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine plays a vital role in energy metabolism, particularly in activities that require short bursts of intense muscular effort, such as weightlifting, sprinting, and jumping.
When consumed as a supplement, creatine is typically in the form of creatine monohydrate, which is the most extensively studied and commonly used form. It is widely used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to enhance physical performance, increase strength and power output, and support muscle growth. Here are some key aspects of creatine:
Energy Production: Creatine functions as a storage form of energy in the body. It helps replenish adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy molecule used by muscles during high-intensity activities. By increasing the availability of ATP, creatine allows for greater energy production, leading to improved performance in short-duration, high-intensity exercises.
Strength and Power: Creatine supplementation has been shown to enhance strength and power output, making it particularly beneficial for activities that require explosive movements. It helps increase muscle force production, enabling individuals to lift heavier weights, perform more repetitions, and generate greater power during intense exercises.
Muscle Size and Hypertrophy: Creatine has been linked to increased muscle mass and hypertrophy. It promotes water retention in muscle cells, resulting in a fuller, more volumized appearance. Additionally, creatine supplementation may stimulate protein synthesis, leading to muscle growth over time.
Recovery and Fatigue Reduction: Creatine has been found to aid in recovery by reducing muscle damage and inflammation. It can also help reduce fatigue during repetitive, high-intensity exercises by replenishing ATP stores more rapidly and improving the overall energy availability.
Cognitive Benefits: Some research suggests that creatine supplementation may have cognitive benefits, such as enhanced brain function, improved memory, and increased mental performance. It is believed that creatine’s role in energy metabolism and neurotransmitter synthesis contributes to these cognitive effects.
It’s important to note that while creatine is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, individual responses may vary. Mild gastrointestinal discomfort and water retention are potential side effects, but they are typically temporary. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting creatine supplementation, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications.
Is Creatine safe?
Creatine is unquestionably one of the most scrutinized supplements on the market – over 200 studies have examined the effects of creatine on athletic performance. After years of analysis, current consensus within the sports nutrition community confirms the effectiveness and safety of creatine.
According the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: “In our view, the most effective nutritional supplement available to athletes to increase high intensity exercise capacity and muscle mass during training is creatine monohydrate.” (Kreider et al. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:7)
Here is a great link on Creatine: Why does Creatine Work?
What will Creatine do for me?
1.Higher phosphocreatine concentrations serve as immediate reserves for ATP during exertion.
2.Increased phosphocreatine resynthesis rate during and after exertion due to increased levels of creatine.
3.Smaller decrease in muscle pH during exertion.
4.Greater training capacity.
5.Increase in muscle mass (absolute power output).
How much should I take?
The average person uses about 2 grams of creatine per day just to maintain normal energy metabolism. JISSN states the quickest method of increasing muscle creatine stores appears to be to consume ~0.3 grams/kg/day of creatine monohydrate for at least 3 days followed by 3-5 g/d thereafter to maintain elevated stores. A 160lb person (73 kilos) requires 22g for 3 days followed by 3-5g/d.
Everybody is different, and everyone trains for different purposes and at different intensities. Start with a relatively small amount; monitor the timing of your supplementation and the effects during training. Revise intake accordingly. Its’ that simple.
As with other supplements, creatine augments my normal nutritional routine. Because I get some creatine from other protein sources throughout the day, I skip the ‘loading phase.” I have found that my optimal dose is 2.5g daily taken about 30 minutes before training. As always, I ensure that I am optimally hydrated and consume some good carbohydrates prior to any training session.
In summary, creatine is a naturally occurring compound involved in energy metabolism and is commonly used as a sports supplement. It has been shown to improve strength, power, muscle size, and recovery while potentially offering cognitive benefits. When used responsibly and in conjunction with appropriate training and nutrition, creatine can be a valuable tool to support athletic performance and muscle development.
Considering the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the ergogenic benefits of creatine, we believe it merits serious consideration as part of your overall nutritional and supplementation strategy.