Creatine is a widely used supplement in the fitness industry that has recently been popularized due to its positive effects on individuals that are weight training.
WHAT IS CREATINE?
Creatine is one of the most widely studied, and one of the most effective supplements on the market. It is an amino acid that is located inside of the muscle cells within our bodies as well as in our brains.
This amino acid is ingested through the consumption of dairy, eggs, meat or seafood. One gram of creatine per day is also produced within our own bodies via our liver, pancreas, and kidneys.
Those that are in a normal carnivorous (diet that contains meat) diet, are able to consume up to 2 grams of creatine daily. On the other hand, vegans or vegetarians usually fall short due to the lack of animal products in their diet.
Since it is stored mostly in the muscles, creatine is used by the muscle cells as a source of energy. It has been shown to increase athletic performance and aid in building muscle.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Creatine creates “quick burst” energy and increased strength, which improves performance, but has little effect on aerobic endurance.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Research shows that taking creatine supplements may:
- improve your exercise performance
- aid in recovery after intense exercise
- prevent and/or reduce the severity of injury
- help athletes tolerate heavier training loads
- increase your fat-free muscle mass during training
- lessen cramping and muscle strains
- lessen muscle tightness during exercise
- aid in neurodegenerative diseases (such as muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease), diabetes, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, disorders of creatine metabolism or transport, aging, brain health and heart ischemia
WHAT ARE THE SIDE-EFFECTS?
Creatine is a relatively safe supplement to consume with few side effects reported. However, you should keep in mind that:
- Creatine supplement consumption may result in weight gain as a result of water retention in your body’s muscles. It will take seven to 28 days to see energy effects depending on how much creatine you have stored within your body
- This “weight gain” is not actual fat mass gain, just the body’s reaction to water being stored in the muscles.
- It may be dangerous to take creatine supplements when you are actually dehydrated or trying to lose weight.
- You need to increase your water intake to avoid dehydration.
Overall creatine is a safe supplement to take; however it is not a magic pill that will lead to muscle growth and fat loss.
The basic principles of calories, progressive overload, high protein intake and a well structured program, that includes adequate rest, have the most impact on your results!