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 explain what Creatine is, and 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.
History of Creatine
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 who 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.
According to anecdotal reports, the use of Creatine Monohydrate as an ergogenic aid dates back to the early 1990s when two of the British track team’s Olympic champions used it to boost their performance.
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.
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.
Creatine 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 create, though. However, those who do not respond to Creatine simply have higher amounts of Creatine in their bodies already.
It’s like you are naturally supplementing with Creatine! 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. Therefore, 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.
Forms of creatine
Every day, a new form of Creatine appears on the market claiming to be the next best thing. However, Creatine Monohydrate -the 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
- Creatinol O-phosphate
- Creatine Nitrate
- Creatine Phosphate
- CEE -Creatine Ethyl Ester-
What is the Most well-studied form of Creatine?
What is the Most Effective Form of Creatine?
What About CEE and Kre-Alkalyn?
CEE and Kre-Alkalyn are 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.
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.
Creatine Side Effects
When taken as directed, creatine is generally considered safe for most people. However, like any supplement or medication, creatine can cause side effects in some individuals. The majority of people who take creatine do not experience any adverse effects. Here are some potential side effects and considerations associated with creatine supplementation:
Common Creatine Side Effects
Water Retention: Creatine can cause your muscles to draw water from the rest of your body, leading to water retention. This might increase your body weight slightly but is generally not harmful.
Muscle Cramping: Some people report experiencing muscle cramps while taking creatine. Staying well-hydrated can often alleviate this side effect.
Digestive Issues: In some cases, creatine supplementation can cause stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or nausea. Taking creatine with food or splitting the dosage throughout the day might help reduce these issues.
Rare Creatine Side Effects
Kidney Damage: There have been concerns about creatine affecting kidney function, especially in people with pre-existing kidney conditions. However, research suggests that creatine is safe for healthy individuals when taken at recommended doses. If you have kidney problems, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before taking creatine.
Liver Damage: Some studies have investigated the potential link between creatine and liver enzyme levels. However, the evidence is inconclusive, and most people do not experience liver problems with creatine supplementation.
Things to Consider
Hydration: It’s crucial to stay well-hydrated while taking creatine to prevent issues like muscle cramping and dehydration due to increased water retention in muscles.
Quality and Dosage: Choosing a reputable brand and following the recommended dosage instructions can minimize the risk of adverse effects.
Drug Interactions: Creatine might interact with certain medications or supplements. If you are taking other medications or supplements, consult your healthcare provider before starting creatine supplementation.
Not Suitable for Everyone: Creatine might not be suitable for individuals under 18 years old, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people with certain health conditions. It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting creatine supplementation, especially if you fall into one of these categories.
Creatine 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 to Take Creatine
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.
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. Simply get a tub of creatine monohydrate from a reputable brand. Look for Creapure on the tub and you’ll be well on your way!