6 Reasons You Should Be Taking Creatine
Creatine has been around in the fitness industry for a while, for good reason – it is proven to be an effective supplement to a proper strength routine and diet. Creatine comes in many forms as a supplement, regardless it is an organic acid found naturally occurring in our bodies, mostly within skeletal muscle tissue. While we can get supplemental creatine from eating meat, particularly steak, but you would have to eat a LOT of meat to get a useful dosage, which is why I suggest using it as a supplement. What’s so great about creatine?
Creatine is one of the oldest studied supplements on the market. It has been researched for over 30 years and proven to be effective with minimal side effects, which usually involve gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea. It has often been associated with increase in dehydration and muscle cramping, but that has been proven to be false5.
Creatine helps the bodies’ ability to perform during high intensity workouts.
Creatine is stored in our muscles and is used to help regenerate ATP (our body’s energy source). Creatine phospate stores in your muscles help ADP (the “used” form of ATP) get converted back to ATP. The more readily available ATP molecules are, the longer muscles can sustain a given activity before fatique. When your body needs ATP, creatine stores kick in to help regenerate it quickly. In short, it will help you get less fatigued in high intensity activities such as sprinting, weightlifting, or CrossFit.
It aids in recovery.
Research has shown that athletes that supplement with creatine experience less muscle damage after intense workouts. In one particular study, they looked at recovery after a 30km race. From this study researchers concluded “These results indicate that creatine supplementation reduced cell damage and inflammation after an exhaustive intense race7.”
It helps build fat free mass.
Because it aids in preventing fatigue and recovery, using creatine allows harder workouts, which in turn promote muscle growth. This is especially true with those who stuggle with accumulating volume of reps during their training sessions. Creatine also has properties which cause muscles to “inflate” and promote muscle synthesis. These two things coupled together help to develop lean mass. Vegetarians have benefited from using creatine, as they do not ingest any dietary creatine from meats. Studies have found vegetarians experienced increased muscle mass from proper creatine supplementation1. In addition to helping build new muscle, it has also been linked with helping to prevent muscle loss from aging.
Creatine has neurolological benefits.
A 2003 double blind study showed “the results were clear with both experimental groups and in both test scenarios. Creatine supplementation gave a significant measurable boost to brain power6.” Creatine has also been proven beneficial for vegetarians, who do not get any intake of dietary creatine through meat. Vegetarians and Vegans often report improved mental clarity and cognition. It has also been researched for depression9, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.
Of all the supplements on the market, I can’t find anything else that gives you more bang for it’s buck (maybe water… or air). You can find a 6 month supply of micronized Creatine Monohydrate for around 20 dollars. Even if you don’t respond well to it, I consider that a cost that is worth investing.
That sounds great. How do I take it?
I recommend taking a micronized creatine monohydrate. As discussed earlier, it is cheap and effective. There are two schools of thought. The first is that you “load” creatine intake, which consists of taking 20g per day, for 5 days, then reducing intake to 5g (1 teaspoon) per day. These 20g should be spread throughout the day into 5g doses to prevent excreting any creatine your body cannot take in.
I have had success without loading. I simply take 1 teaspoon (5g) per day, first thing in the morning on a non-training day and immediately after a workout on a training day. Combining creatine with a simple carbohydrate that is non acidic (grape juice seems to be the best), helps aid absorption as well.
There are a lot of reasons to try creatine as a supplement with very minor side effects. But remember that it is only a supplement, you must follow a proper exercise and nutrition plan. Because creatine can often change water balance in the muscles, we recommend talking to your doctor before implementing creatine supplementation, especially if you have a history of kidney or liver problems.
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