What is it?
Creatine is a combination of three different amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine. That is it.
It is a substance that is found naturally in muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise.
Dietary sources of creatine include red meat and fish, however large amounts are required to be consumed to obtain sufficient amounts required for increased performance. Dietary supplementation is inexpensive and effective at increasing the amount of creatine within the body.
Studies have shown that supplementing with creatine has been very popular among athletes and bodybuilders to gain muscle, enhance strength and improve overall exercise performance for many years.
When you supplement with creatine it increases the body’s stores of creatine phosphate, which is able to donate its phosphate group to Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).
ATP is often called the body’s energy currency. The more ATP that is available, the better the body can perform during all sorts of physical activity, with the most benefit being seen with short, fast and explosive movements.
There are many forms of creatine available on the market however the best form to supplement with is creatine monohydrate.
Who needs it?
Everybody can benefit from creatine supplementation, however these specific groups of people would benefit the most:
- Bodybuilders and strength athletes;
- People over 40 years of age;
- Anybody trying to improve their physical and cognitive performance or recovery.
Benefits of taking creatine
Here are some of the ways that creatine supplementation can boost physical performance and assist in overall health:
- Increases muscle strength and size;
- Enhanced recovery;
- Improved sprinting / high intensity physical performance;
- Improved glucose tolerance;
- Enhanced brain function;
- May reduce sarcopenia (age related muscle loss).
How much should be supplemented?
Common dosing strategies usually include a loading phase of approx. 5 to 7 days where you supplement with 5g, 4 to 5 times per day.
Following the loading phase you would transition into the maintenance phase of 5g, 1 to 2 times per day.
It is not necessary to cycle on and off of creatine supplementation, however doing so could increases results or break a training plateau.
When to supplement?
An often debated topic, but it appears that taking creatine post-workout has the most benefits.
Some studies have shown that supplementing with creatine post workout at a meal time could be beneficial in increasing the uptake of creatine due to the increase in insulin secretion and transporting nutrients into the cells.
How this works:
- The body absorbs nutrients better after physical activity;
- Insulin helps drive more creatine into muscle cells;
- The first meal post-workout should contain some carbohydrates to help spike your insulin in order to facilitate nutrient absorption into the muscles;
- Creatine supplementation will help refuel your body’s creatine phosphate stores.
On non-training days, supplementation timing isn’t as important as the purpose of supplementing on a non-training days is to keep creatine levels elevated within the muscles.
Creatine is one of the cheapest, most studied, ethical, effective and safest nutritional supplements on the market. It has a variety of uses including increased muscle mass and physical fitness, and can also improve brain health.
Creatine Monohydrate is the best form of creatine to supplement with.