Creatine supplements like many others, have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Used by both exercise enthusiasts and high level sports people, it's a supplement of choice for those looking to increase lean muscle mass, improve recovery from high intensity efforts, and sports people who play intermittent sports such as tennis and team sports.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine occurs naturally in the body, and is found in skeletal muscle. Diet plays a role in the amount of naturally occurring creating. Its also varies for age and gender.
For example, meat eaters generally will have higher creatine levels than vegetarians. It is considered one of the top supplements for increased performance in the gym.Similar benefits are provided by also using pre-workout supplements or whey supplements.
It's been tested widely and is considered one of the safest supplements. Similar to amino acids, a large proportion (around 95%) is stored in your muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. The balance is normally found in the brain, kidneys and liver. (Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-creatine#what-it-is)It helps product ATP form boosted exercise performance.
How To Take Creatine?
It can be taken in the form of creatine monohydrate, which is the most popular found on the market.Generally it is taken in the form of tablets, capsules or powder.Normally the supplement is taken in both a loading and maintenance phase.This means that loading can be done over a short period, for example 5 day or long period (1 month) and then followed up by a maintenance dose of creatine monohydrate.
When To Take Creatine?
The best time to take the supplement shorty after exercise. Studies have shown that when taken close to exercise, users will gain more muscle mass and strength compared to those who take it during resting period. (Source:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17095924).
Users should also be aware that users may gain a small amount of weight during supplementation, which should be considered for high level athletes during competition.
What is Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine monohydrate is an amino acid that is found in your body that helps it recycle adenosine triphosphate, or as you might remember from high school biology if you kept your notes, ATP.
This is considered the energy currency of the cell and works hand in hand with creatine mainly in muscle and brain tissue preventing ATP depletion, stimulating protein synthesis or reducing protein degradation, and stabilizing biological membranes.Creatine monohydrate helps your cells convert adenosine diphosphate, or ADP, back into ATP so it can be used as fuel for your cells.
Aside from supplementing, there are a few things that factor into the amount of creatine monhydrate your body stores such as how much meat you eat, how much exercise you get, your muscle mass, and your hormones.Approximately 95% of the creatine in your body is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine, while the rest is stored in your brain, liver, and kidneys.
Creatine monohydrate was first discovered and identified in 1832 in skeletal muscle. Phosphocreatine was discovered almost a full century later in 1927. For decades, research was done on these chemicals, and scientists figured out how the body stores them, as well as how their impact on physical performance, but it wasn’t until the 1992 Olympics that creatine came into public view.
It was reported that several Olympians took creatine monohydrate as a supplement before the 1992 Olympics and it wasn’t long until creatine was commercially available the next year. Today, creatine monohydrate is widely popular among football and hockey players, as well as wrestlers, gymnasts, and both amateur and professional body builders.
What are the benefits of creatine monohydrate?
There are several types of creatine monohydrate out there like creatine hydrochloride, liquid creatine, and myriad others, but we are going to focus on creatine monohydrate because it is by far the safest, most scientifically tested, common, and inexpensive form on the market, while keeping all of the benefits that make it so popular.
Creatine monohydrate helps make you stronger. It is not like cartoon character Popeye’s spinach where you can just consume it and magically get jacked like a body builder, however. The creatine will prevent your cells’ energy currency, ATP, from getting depleted while simultaneously facilitating its production.
In short, creatine monohydrate helps your muscles keep and gain more energy. If you supplement with creatine monohydrate on top of your regular workout, it will increase your muscle strength and size. A pleasant byproduct of this is an increase in your bone mineral density, which will help you have stronger and healthier bones that will heal faster if broken.
Creatine monohydrate helps you be less tired and more aware. Because your muscles, vital organs, and brain are all dramatically impacted by the phosphocreatine this supplement is stored as in your body, the increase of energy in your cells helps to alleviate tiredness and fatigue.It also helps your muscles recover faster, while boosting your stamina to work out longer. On top of that, creatine monohydrate helps boost your reaction time by approximately 10% and helps you be more aware and alert at all times.
In men, creatine monohydrate boosts your testosterone levels. Men who experience sluggishness and a loss of sex drive often can attribute this to a lack of testosterone which is unfortunately a normal part of aging. Fortunately, creatine monohyrate can help with that as it boosts the hormone partially responsible for mental energy as well as your libido. Studies have also shown that creatine can help improve the conditions of people with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy, motor neuron disease, diabetes, fatty liver disease as well as people recovering from Ischemic strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries, and senior citizens who have naturally lost some muscle, memory and brain function due to the aging process.
What are the concerns?
There are very few credible safety concerns when it comes to taking creatine monohydrate as a workout supplement. In rare instances, when taken incorrectly such as in extremely large doses which would not be recommended by any healthcare professional, it can cause kidney and liver damage, as well as gastrointestinal issues, cramping, and dehydration.
Creatine may cause weight gain because creatine pulls water into muscle cells which is how it works so well. If you take creatine without working out, you will put on water weight and look swollen or bloated.
While there are around 1000 studies on the safety of creatine, there are very few studies on whether or not it is safe for children under 18 years of age. It is unclear what sort of long term effects it might have on developing muscles and hormones so it would be best to avoid giving creatine to kids.
There are plenty ways to use creatine monohydrate as a workout supplement and helps skeletal muscle growth during resistance training. The most common way of taking creatine supplementation is through creatine supplementation powder that you add to a liquid, typically water, and drink before you work out. This is often referred to as pre-workout and should have several other great supplements in it to boost your workout session’s effectiveness and skeletal muscle.
There are tons of great flavors of creatine monohydrate like blue raspberry, strawberry, and others and you can buy this in most fitness supplement and grocery stores. One popular example of this is called Lit by GNC.There are also pre-made drinks that you can buy from convenience stores or fitness supplement stores that contain creatine monohydrate, BCAA amino acids, and CoQ10 which helps you get amped up and energized while making sure you don’t tear up your muscles with all that energy by quickly repairing them.
An example of this is Bang, a popular workout beverage. They even sell pure creatine monohydrate in pill form as well, in case you don’t like any of the pre-workout flavors. One popular example is GNC Pro Performance, which gives you 120 pills for just $15.
How to use it as a supplement?
It is imperative to do only the recommended dose of creatine and not more so you don’t risk negative side effects, even if they are extremely rare. There are two main ways to start using creatine monohydrate as a daily workout supplement.
Creatine loading is the first and most effective method to supplementing. It involves taking 20 to 25 grams per day split into 4 to 5 equal doses for a week for skeletal muscle growth. This first week is called the loading phase. Immediately following this loading phase, you take just 1 dose of 3 to 5 grams per day every day. This method takes 5 to 7 days to experience its effects.
Maintenance dosing between high-intensity exercise is the other and less effective method to supplementing. All it involves is skipping the loading phase. You still take 1 dose of 3 to 5 grams per day. Instead of taking a week or less to experience its effects, this method take 28 days- almost a full month. Once you are feeling the effects, they are no weaker than the loading method.