Does Creatine Really Work? Short Answer is YES
Creatine is the single most researched product amongst all of the muscle building supplements on the market today. It has become one of the go-to supplements and male and female athletes are the benefits of creatine.
Creatine is produced by our body from amino acids such as arginine, methionine and glycine. The creatine is stored in our skeletal muscles as creatine phosphate. The prime function of creatine is to help in resynthesize our ATP. ATP is a molecule that acts as a storage unit for energy within our body and during intense workouts it releases the stored energy to power us through the workout.
During high intensity workouts, or when our bodies are under a lot of physical stress, creatine phosphate releases energy to support our body’s cellular function. Creatine essentially reenergizes us by providing inorganic phosphate to our muscles while working out.
Why Do We Supplement Creatine if it’s Produced Naturally?
This is a common question that we receive. Why supplement our body with a nutrient that our bodies are able to generate themselves? This is a valid question, but once answered it’s easy to see the need to supplement your body’s natural supply of creatine.
Typically, the human body only produces approximately 1 gram of creatine each day. Additionally, we receive about 1 gram of creatine from our daily diet since creatine is naturally consumed in many meats, fishes, and eggs. So typically, our bodies only have two grams of creatine at any given time. And that is why supplementation is necessary.
During highly intense workouts, our bodies need more than the 2 grams of creatine our bodies possess. Supplementation allows us to carry a surplus of creatine and have it readily available to fuel the extra mile of our workouts.
The Advantages of Creatine
The main advantage of using a creatine supplement is that it gives an enormous boost of energy to us during our workouts. This enables us to do that extra rep, or that extra set, and push our muscle just a little further than we would be able to without the use of creatine. Over time, these extra sets, and extra reps, equate to huge muscle gains.
Because of creatines unique ability to quickly supply our bodies with a boost of energy during our workout sessions, it has become one of the go-to pre-workout supplements.
Another advantage of creatine is that it leads to increased water retention within the muscles. This enables the muscles to produce a sudden gain in lean body mass. This adds extra volume to the muscles and makes them look much fuller.
Additionally, creatine is also known to improve the brain function, especially in those people who are suffering with neurodegenerative disorders. Creatine also helps in reducing sarcopaenia, which is nothing but age related muscle loss in the body. With the regular consumption of creatine, along with a regular workout routine, creatine can help in avoiding sarcopaenia.
It should be kept in mind that creatine does not add muscle mass to your body through just its consumption. So, just simply consuming creatine will have no positive effect to your body when it comes to muscle development. Creatine does, however, give us that extra dash of energy to push harder during the workout sessions, in order to get better results.
How Do You Take Creatine?
A lot of research has been done on what is the best way to consume creatine.
Creatine is available in pill and powder form. And, as always, the powder form is the preferred method to take any supplement. This is simply due to the fact that the body, and particularly the stomach, does not break down powders like they do pills.
Researched has shown that the best way to take creatine in a powder form is by using what’s referred to as an ‘upfront loading protocol.’ This is when the user consumes between 15 to 20 mg of creatine each day for the first 4 days of use. This allows the user to reach a saturation level. After the user reaches a saturation level, they nly need to consume a maintenance dosage of 2 to 4 mg to maintain their bodies elevated level of creatine.
The saturation dosages should be spread out into 3 or 4 dosages of 5 mg throughout the first five days. Once the loading stage is complete, the user must only maintain their levels of creatine. And, if the user stops using a creatine supplement, it will take 5 to 6 weeks before the creatine levels of the body revert to their reduced levels.
The Myths About Creatine Monohydrate
One of the biggest myths about creatine monohydrate is that it can damage your kidneys. Research has shown that there is no evidence of creatine damaging your kidneys directly. However, creatine does require extra water intake through the day. If the user is not consuming a sufficient amount of water each day then they may suffer from damage to the kidneys.
Another myth is that if someone is taking creatine as a supplement and not working out then he or she will gain fat. Creatine does not possess any qualities that can make a person gain fat. If a person is using creatine and not working out, then creatine will have virtually no impact on the body aside from elevate creatine level.
The Side Effects of Creatine
Creatine intake can potentially lead to side effects such as nausea, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Creatine will also lead to water retention by the body, which means that you must consume more water than you normally would. When you use creatine without consuming enough liquids then the creatine can cause stress on the kidneys. However, it should be noted that these side effects rarely occur when creatine is taken in the correct dosage.
When it’s all said and done, the benefits of creatine far outweigh its risks. Any athlete or bodybuilder that is looking to gain muscle mass at a quicker rate than they normally would be able to should definitely use a creatine supplement.