Creatine is one of the most popular and commonly used muscle building supplements all over the world. However there are quite a few myths and questions that do the rounds when it comes to creatine. A plethora of information available online are rather dubious leading to improper usage of the supplement or even causing people to stay away from it due to misperceptions. This article will try to answer a few common questions and dispel some of the myths surrounding creatine.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is an organic acid that is produced naturally by our bodies and helps in supplying energy to body tissues, specifically muscles. It is synthesised by the liver by combining three amino acids – methionine, arginine, and glycine and is mostly stored in the skeletal muscles. Its chemical name is methyl guanidine-acetic acid. Other than creatine produced by our body, we can get creatine from food (fish, red meat) and dietary supplements. On an average the body produces 100-150mmol/kg/dry weight (dw) of creatine.
What Functions does Creatine have and how does it Help in Muscle Building?
Creatine has a lot of functions including providing energy to tissues and specifically muscles, helping in protein synthesis, increasing cell volume, acting as lactic acid buffer, etc. In terms of muscle training, the most important thing that you need to know is that it helps the body to regenerate Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP, which is the body’s source for instant energy. When you are exercising, ATP can supply instant energy to your muscles, which however is as short-lived as 15 seconds. When the energy source is exhausted, creatine helps to regenerate ATP to keep you going and recover from exercise fatigue fast. You can go on doing this till your body’s creatine reserves are depleted and that is when creatine supplements come in handy. With supplements you can go on longer and harder with your weight and resistance training routine. It must however be remembered that this is helpful only for anaerobic routines.
Is Creatine Safe or is it some Kind of Steroid?
Creatine is not a steroid at all and is very safe as a supplement. However, you must know how and what amount to take. To start with the body has a threshold for creatine and any creatine taken over and above that will be simply excreted in the form of creatinine. Taking too much of creatine could be damaging for the liver as well. So remember that creatine is needed only in very small portions and take your doses with advice from a nutrition expert only.
When is Creatine to be Taken and How?
Creatine is usually taken after workouts and another 1-3 times throughout the day. Also, the most advised way of taking creatine is to load it for the first 5 days to saturate your muscles with it. It is also important to cycle your intake of creatine supplement so that the in-built mechanism in your body that produces creatine is also up and running and your body does not depend only on external supplements. This theory, though not proved conclusively, is best followed for precaution. Also, it is argued by some studies that creatine absorption by muscles is higher and quicker when taken with foods of high glycemic index like juices.
What are the Different kinds of creatine supplements and Which is the Best one?
There are different kinds of creatine supplements and they differ in terms of how the body and muscles absorbs it. Some of the supplements that are found in the market are Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Citrate Creatine Phosphate, Creatine Ethyl Ester, etc. While there may be differing opinions on the most effective one, by far Creatine Monohydrate is the most popular since it is easy to take, has appreciable absorption levels and arguably has a wide array of supplement researches backing it.
So remember to take your creatine supplements in right doses, cycle them and amp up the workout routine to see the results that you always wanted.