Creatine is a popular supplement touted by bodybuilders, athletes, crossfitters, and fitness enthusiasts everywhere, but while a lot of people have heard about creatine, and may even take creatine, most people have some basic questions about creatine that I will try to answer in this short article. By the time you finish reading this article, you will have a basic understanding of what creatine is, if it is safe for you, what the benefits are, how it works and how to take it, and what type of creatine works best.
What is creatine?
Creatine is essentially a precursor to ATP (the first source of energy for the muscle cell). It is made up naturally of amino acids that you get from the foods that you eat everyday. Creatine is also found in low doses in the meat that you eat.
Is it safe?
Since creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in your body and is also found in the food that you eat, it considered very safe. Doses of up to 10 grams daily have been studied over the course of an entire year, yet have still been shown to produce no negative effects over this time. Creatine is heavily used by athletes-professional and amature- and has been used for decades by all different types of people, so it is generally considered a very safe supplement when taken as directed.
What are the benefits?
Creatine has many potential benefits, some are well studied; others are new discoveries. Some of the more well studied and confirmed benefits include: better recovery from exercise, increased muscle mass, increased anaerobic capacity, and increased endurance.
Some of the less studied potential benefits of creatine include: better controlled blood sugar levels, increased memory and mental function, increased bone and wound healing, and treatment for depression.
How does it work?
Creatine is taken orally, absorbed through the intestines, and then processed by the liver to be used in the muscle cells. Creatine basically works by extending the force and amount of time that muscles can contract while performing an exercise. It also effectively increases the amount of time that your body can perform anaerobic activities like sprinting.
How do I take it?
Creatine is taken orally and usually comes in powders, pills, or liquid forms. Creatine dosing depends upon the form of creatine that you take. Creatine monohydrate is an old and trusted form of creatine that requires a loading phase (taking high doses for 7-10 days), followed by a lower maintenance dose. Other forms of creatine like micronized creatine, creatine AKG, and creatine ethyl ester do not require loading phases, but are also less studied than creatine monohydrate.
All forms of creatine are generally taken 1-2 times daily, by mouth, either before or after exercise. Powders should be dissolved completely in water or juice, and pills should be taken with a full 8 oz of water.
What kind should I take?
Forms of creatine include creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine AKG, and micronized creatine. Creatine monohydrate is the most heavily used and tested form of creatine, but some people experience bloating, and stomach discomfort from its use. Micronized creatine is broken up into smaller particles than monohydrate which equates to smaller doses, but increased potency. Creatine ethyl ester is most expensive but considered highly absorbable.
Ultimately everyone has different preferences for which forms of creatine they like to take, and different people get different results form each type. I generally recommend people to start out taking creatine monohydrate and then try other forms if they experience any problems with creatine monohydrate.
Creatine is a very effective performance enhancing supplement that has been used by millions of people, it is safe, highly studied, highly effective, and relatively inexpensive for how effective it is. Try it out, and see what you think. A 6 week trial period should be all it takes to convince you how effective it really is.
Have you ever tried creatine before, or are you just thinking about taking it? Leave a comment below and feel free to ask any questions you have about creatine, I would love to help out!