Creatine is amongst the most popular muscle building supplements all across the world. However the internet provides an overdose of information on creatine that is rather unsubstantiated and also creates certain unnecessary myths surrounding it. In this article we discuss the basics that you need to know about creatine supplements.
What is Creatine and What is Its Function?
Creatine is an organic acid that our body produces and it acts as the source of energy, primarily for muscle tissue. It is produced in the liver, pancreas and kidney of the human body and carried by the bloodstream to the muscles. It helps in regeneration of ATP, which serves as the most important source of energy for muscles during training. When you work out, the ATP levels in your muscle tissue is depleted and creatine helps in replenishing the ATP levels. It can be taken in the form of the food we eat like meat, fish, cranberries, etc and through dietary supplements.
Why Should you Take Creatine Supplements
When you undertake strenuous workouts, your muscles deplete the reserves of ATP. Without replenishing the ATP your muscles will not be able to lift weight. Creatine helps to replenish that. However there is a limit to how much of creatine your body can produce. The limit is usually around 100-150mmol /kg/dry weight. As an active person, your creatine needs can get much higher than that while doing strenuous exercise. You can choose to intake the extra amount through food, but that process takes a lot of time to digest, process the food and derive creatine out of it. Here is where supplements come in handy. Since as a weight trainer wanting to build muscle mass you need a much higher supply of creatine than an average person, supplements provide you with that instant energy source.
What are the Benefits of Using Creatine Supplements
Creatine supplements help you with some serious muscle and strength building. The broad benefits can be listed as follows:
- Providing enhanced energy
- Enhancing protein synthesis
- Enhances lean muscle volume and builds stronger muscles
- Acting as a lactic acid buffer thereby delaying muscle fatigue which allows longer and more intense workouts
- Improving mental and cognitive functioning
- Boosting immunity and combating diseases
- Supplying much needed source of energy for vegetarians who do not get it from meat or fish
What are the Common Types of Creatine Supplements
The most common creatine supplements include creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine citrate, creatine phosphate, etc. there are hordes of other creatine supplements available in the market like creatine malate, creatine anhydous, creatine HMB, creatine tartrate, and so on. Overall creatine monohydrate is the most popular since it is easily digestible, is inexpensive and has the highest number of studies backing it.
How to take Creatine Supplements and When
Experts have mostly suggested about two ways of taking or loading creatine. Both of them are reported to be effective.
- Rapid loading. This involves taking creatine for 5 -7 days with an average quantity of 20 grams per day. This is followed by 5 to 10 grams of creatine everyday. It is usually taken with a non-acidic fruit juice or dextrose.
- Slow loading. This involves a less rapid process whereby it is taken in quantities of 5 to 10 grams every day.
You may follow the advice of your instructor or experiment with both the ways to understand what suits you best. It is also advised that you should cycle your creatine intake so that the body does not get used to regular intake of supplements and stops its natural creatine producing functions. In this regard the 4 weeks cycle is the most popular.
Regarding the time to take creatine it is usually advised that when you are loading creatine, the time line should look like this and also you should combine it with other supplements or add-ons as mentioned.
- Morning – 5 grams with non-acidic fruit juice
- Before workout – 5 grams with waxy maize
- After workout – 5 grams with waxy maize and whey protein
- Evening – 5 grams with non-acidic fruit juice
Does Creatine have any Adverse Side Effects
There are lot of myths surrounding creation and one of them is that it is a form of steroid. The claim is completely groundless and creatine is very much safe as a supplement. It is not a steroid and taking it in right proportions will not lead to any harm to your body. However an overdose can be damaging for your liver. The important thing is to follow the advice of your instructor while loading creatine.