September 1, 2014
What is Creatine? What You Need to Know
You’ve probably seen giant bottles filled with creatine powder on the store shelves, or muscular bodybuilders chugging down protein drinks mixed with creatine before pumping some serious weights at the gym. You may have even seen commercials advertising the amazing muscle-building power of this supplement, but exactly what is creatine?
Since the 1990s, Creatine has been the most popular performance enhancing supplement in the bodybuilding industry. It’s available in a wide variety of forms and is typically taken with juice or as part of a muscle-building supplement.
Creatine is a natural compound found in the body that is stored in the skeletal muscles, and when used correctly, it can provide a wide variety of health benefits to bodybuilders and non-athletes alike.
What Does Creatine Do?
Although each form of creating differs in effectiveness, rate of absorption, and potential side effects, all types of creatine are specifically formulated to enhance athletic performance by increasing energy levels (by promoting the production of ATP) and boosting the body’s abilities to handle more intense workouts and stress.
Additionally, studies have shown that Creatine may also provide the following benefits:
It improves brain function: Creatine can protect nerve cells against oxidative damage and stress by eliminating harmful bi-products known as free radicals. Researches have reported that supplementation with creatine over time can increase intelligence and memory capabilities as well.
It Increases muscle volume and mass: Creatine causes muscles cells to inflate, drawing water and other nutrients to the muscles resulting in visibly bigger, stronger, healthier muscles.
It speeds muscle recovery: Creatine can reduce ammonia accumulation in the muscles while delaying muscle fatigue and soreness. Supplementing with creating after an intense workout can speed muscular regeneration, promoting the growth of new muscle cells.
Types of Creatine
There are multiple types of creatine available, each formulated to give maximum muscle building results.
• Creatine Monohydrate – The first original form of creatine. Creatine Monohydrate is the cheapest form of creatine, and it can be produced with 99.8% purity. It does not require a loading phase in order to be effective.
• Micronized Creatine – Creatine monohydrate molecules have been divided to increase surface area, resulting in better absorption. It acts similar to creatine monohydrate but requires a loading phase and has fewer side effects.
• Creatine Ethyl Ester – Creatine molecules have an ethyl ester attached to change the ionic charge. It is the most absorbent creatine created, and does not require a loading phase. It is more expensive than most types of creatine.
• Creatine Kre-Alkalyn -A special form of creatine that does not convert in creatinine as easily as other types of creatine. Studies are limited but kre-alkalyn does not require a loading phase and creates less bloating and stomach discomfort.
Which Creatine is Best? Creatine Ethyl Ester is the most effective, most absorbent form of creatine that keeps side effects to a minimum. Although it does take several days to saturate your muscles with this type of creatine, Creatine Ethyl Ester will give you better results.
According to Mayo Clinic, “A wide range of dosing has been used or studied by mouth. 400 milligrams per kilogram of body weight or up to 25 grams per day have been studied for multiple conditions . . .for enhanced athletic strength and performance, studies have used a dose of 20 grams per day for 4-7 days.”
Warnings and Concerns
Creatine is typically considered a safe supplement to use if you’re looking to build muscle and improve your physical performance. However, it has been known to cause the following side effects:
• Gastrointestinal symptoms
• Nausea and Upset stomach
• Loss of appetite
Additionally, because creatine draws water to the muscles, there is an increased risk of dehydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water while supplementing with creatine to keep potential risks to a minimum.
Overall, creatine is a great tool for building muscle and making the most out of your strength training sessions. While it might not be safe for everyone, consult your doctor to see if creatine is right for you.