Creatine, we have all heard of it, half of you reading this are probably taking it. But how many of you actually know what it is and what it does? With the one exception of whey protein, Ceatine is probably the most commonly used weight training supplement in the world, yet there are more misconceptions surrounding it than any other supplement. I thought it was about time I set the record straight!
Creatine – What is it?
Creatine (or phosphocreatine) is an organic acid that is predominantly found in muscles.
Creatine – Where does it come from?
Creatine is a non-essential nutrient as it is naturally produced in the human body from the amino acids glycine and arginine. Creatine synthesis primarily takes place in the kidney and liver, it is then transported to your muscles via your blood. Approximately 95% of the human body’s total Creatine is found in skeletal muscle.
It is not only our muscles that accumulate Creatine, all animals store and synthesize their own Creatine, just as we do. We therefor ingest a lot of Ceatine from our food sources predominantly meat.
Creatine – What does it do?
Your body uses Creatine as a fast-acting, but limited source of energy called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Creatine gets used before glucose and fatty acids for fuel, making it a more immediate source of energy. By providing your body with this additional source of energy, your muscles can push out a few more reps before fatigue sets in, making it an absolute god send before a tough workout or training session.
This increase in energy levels can result in;
- Increased power output (how much you can lift at once i.e. your 1RM)
- Improved anaerobic endurance (how many reps you can perform in one stint)
Creatine – How much should I take?
This is probably the biggest unanswered question regarding Creatine supplementation. There are two established methods, both of which have produced very similar benefits in the long run.
- Loading phase: characterized by consuming a higher dose during the first week of supplementation, after which a lower maintenance dose is used. A typical loading dose is in the range of 20-25g of Creatine per day which is in divided into doses of five grams and spread throughout the day.
- Maintenance: refers to the continuous use of a set quantity of Creatine (5g).
Both of these methods have been shown to have similar effects. However one thing they both agree on is that loading phase or not, a Maintenance dose should be in the region of 5g, with elite athletes consuming up to 10g per day.
Creatine – Side effects:
Lots of people are wary of Creatine and many even warn others not to take it, but that fact is that Creatine is one of the most extensively researched supplements out there and the side effects from taking Creatine have been proven to be minor and are not of a medical concern. The only reported problems are to do with moronic individuals consuming excessive quantities. In these situations the idiot in question has experienced diarrhea or an upset stomach (this is due to Creatine’s effects on water retention). Simply taking a lower dose of Creatine or consuming Creatine with food, rather than on an empty stomach can prevent these intestinal side-effects.
Creatine – How is it sold?
Most Creatine is sold as a white powder; however much like the quality of your whey protein shake, the quality of your Creatine can vary hugely. You may see many different names for Creatine; Creatine citrate, Creatine ethyl ester, Creatine nitrate, buffered Creatine, Creatine hydrochloride, Creatine malate and Creatine pyruvate; however your typical Creatine monohydrate is still proven to be the most effective and cost effective for that matter.
There it is, all you need to know about Creatine, from a non-medical researcher’s point of view anyway. I hope this article has proven useful and interesting, I hope you can now supplement confidently, experiencing all the benefits of this fantastic supplement as I have. If you still have any questions on Creatine please do just comment below and I shall answer them as soon as I can.