All you need to know about creatine

Creatine and it’s functions

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found mainly in muscle cells in the human body. Creatine is obtained from food, mainly from meat and seafood, a small amount is produced by the body.

Without the supplementation of creatine in the muscles, as a rule, be around 60-80%. Vegetarians don’t get enough creatine from their diet, so they tend to have even lower creatine stores in their muscles, which is why creatine supplements are all the more beneficial.

The main function of creatine is to replenish the stores of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that is used for energy production in cells. During short, intense sets of exercises, the ability to quickly restore ATP is partially limited by the creatinine available in the muscles.

Creatine has been extensively studied since 1980. More than 1000 studies have been published. The main benefit of taking creatine supplements is to improve performance in the gym and in life. Most studies that have studied performance enhancement have found that taking creatine during high-intensity exercise improves performance by about 10-20%.

For example, in a study of strength training in men, the group that received creatine was able to perform an average of 1-2 additional repetitions in each of the five bench press sets before muscle failure. It may seem that 1-2 additional repetitions is not much, but over time, the ability to do 10-20% more repetitions leads to an increase in endurance and muscle mass.

Does creatine work for everyone?

Although creatine has been studied primarily in men, most studies involving women seem to show similar benefits of creatine for women. In addition, many studies have been conducted on the effects of creatine on the elderly, and similar results have been obtained. Unfortunately, the effect of creatine is not universal. The response may vary from person to person, ranging from an almost complete lack of performance improvement to a very pronounced improvement.

Is creatine harmful?

Creatine is one of the most studied performance-enhancing supplements. Data on it has been collected for more than 30 years. So we have a lot of evidence to support his safety. There have been claims that creatine can lead to dehydration and muscle cramps, but the best research does not support this information.

In addition, there is a misconception that creatine can contribute to kidney problems. Studies of both short-term and long-term creatine intake in different populations among young and healthy people, as well as among patients and the elderly, have not shown any negative effects of creatine.

Are there any side effects?

The only side effect that is mentioned in all the studies is a small weight gain-mainly due to an increase in the amount of water in the muscles. Not everyone gains weight from creatine, but most studies have shown an average weight gain of just over 1 kg in people who weigh about 75 kg. Weight gain ranges from < 1 kg to > 3 kg.

How do you take creatine?

Creatine is available in different formulations. The cheapest, most popular, and most well – studied is creatine monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate is usually available in tablet and powder form, which are equally effective. The effect of creatine becomes noticeable only when the muscles become sufficiently saturated with creatine. There are two options for taking creatine: “loading” and “no loading”.

Loading: 0.3 g / kg body weight 5-7 days, then 5 g daily. Loading allows you to saturate the muscles with creatine in about a week, when the results will become noticeable. The disadvantage of the loading method is that you have to take a lot of creatine a day.

The most reliable scientific studies do not show a tendency to the occurrence of gastrointestinal disorders on the background of creatine intake. However, the authors of one study suggested that the incidence of gastrointestinal disorders is higher at a dosage of more than 5 g at a time.

Without loading: take 5 g per day. As a rule, muscle saturation with creatine occurs within about 3-4 weeks. Please be patient.

The timing of creatine intake regarding training is often discussed, however, there is no strong scientific argument about what time creatine intake is most useful. If you usually consume a protein shake after a workout, you can add creatine to it for potential benefits, but do not worry if you are used to taking it before a workout.

Unlike supplements such as caffeine, to which the body develops an addiction and their effectiveness decreases over time, the effect of creatine is permanent and the intake of creatine in cycles is not required.

Some advocate the use of creatine in combination with a large amount of carbohydrates to improve absorption and increase the total supply of creatine in the muscles. It is true that carbohydrates help to deliver creatine to the muscles, but studies have not been conducted to prove the positive effect of such a strategy on improving performance.

In addition to creatine monohydrate, there are other forms of creatine, such as creatine hydrochloride (HCl) and creatine ethyl ether. The idea of the advantage of these forms over creatine monohydrate is not confirmed in the modern scientific literature.

The main advantage of creatine hydrochloride is that it is easily soluble in water, although it costs a little more. Some claim that the total required dosage of creatine HCl is lower than that of monohydrate, but this has never been studied. Finally, creatine ethyl ether does not appear to be as effective as creatine monohydrate. Its effectiveness is equal to the placebo effect.