What is Creatine and What Are the Benefits?
May 3, 2016
Creatine: Should You or Shouldn’t You? There have been countless articles written about creatine over the past 10 years that sway both ways on the Do and Don’t pendulum. The burning question that many people still have, however, is should I or shouldn’t I?
What is creatine? By definition, creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that supplies energy to the muscles in your body. This means it has the potential to increase lean muscle mass as well as boost both energy and strength during a high intensity workout. So, why are people so skeptical of something that seems to have such great benefits?
The Benefits of Creatine
So what can a supplement like BPI Sports’ BEST CREATINE™ do for you? Specifically, BEST CREATINE™ contains 6 advanced forms of creatine for increased strength, muscle gains and recovery. All you need is one scoop mixed in with 8 oz. of cold water. It’s easily absorbed and non-bloating, enhancing your performance at the gym.
Think of it as an energy drink for your muscles (only without all the unnatural chemicals). Creatine essentially fuels the muscles in your body allowing you to go harder when performing high intensity exercises, like weightlifting. This ultimately results in the muscle’s ability to gain size. Additionally, in a study for post-exercise muscle regeneration, it was concluded that creatine reduced muscle inflammation after a rigorous high intensity workout and aided in muscle recovery.
Other studies that have been performed on the effects of creatine have uncovered a wide variety of added benefits. For example, one study has shown that creatine may improve short term memory. Another has suggested creatine may reduce sarcopaenia (or age-related muscle loss) which could greatly benefit active adults over the age of 50 to looking maintain strength
The Truth About Creatine – Myth Busting
To start off, there’s no published documents or studies that have been performed which states the use of creatine as being unsafe. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk creatine misconceptions.
You’ll gain weight. This one is actually true. However, it can be primarily attributed to water retention. The “bloating” so to speak, occurs in the muscles and will give you a fuller look. Bodybuilders will typically discontinue use of creatine 1-2 weeks before competing to look more “dry” and shredded. Other than water weight, the upped strength you will experience will most likely lead to harder workouts…and more muscle. More muscle = weight gain.
Kidney or stomach issues. Like anything in life, too much of a good thing isn’t always good. When taking a high dosage on an empty stomach, the probability of having an upset stomach may increase. As far as liver or kidney damage from creatine use, there are no studies that have been performed on humans that directly link creatine to organ damage (based off of the studies that are currently available). If you take a dose and experience adverse results, simply increase water intake and lower the dosage. If you don’t know how much you should take for your bodyweight, try the Creatine Calculator here: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/creatine_calculator.htm
Still Not Convinced About Creatine?
In a study of Brazilian professional soccer players and the effects of creatine on their lower limb muscle performance during pre-season training, it was concluded that the use of creatine prevented loss of muscle and power. In the two groups of subjects for this study, seven were given a placebo and seven were given four doses of creatine (20g/week) followed by smaller doses following this for an additional 6 weeks. The soccer players went through weight training as usual, with focus on the lower body, and then performed a series of tests to exemplify what creatine did or did not do. Those who received the creatine consistently performed better overall than those who received the placebo.
Which Type of Creatine is Right for You?
Believe it or not, there are several options when it comes to choosing a creatine but we will only touch on the most popular/most proven effective types.
- Creatine Monohydrate: This is the most common form of creatine. It’s not only inexpensive but it’s been proven effective – as it has been used for decades. One downside of monohydrate is that it has a low surface area meaning only a small percentage of what you take is absorbed into the body.
- Micronized Creatine: Almost exactly the same as monohydrate but has a larger surface area which means increased absorption. While it is more expensive than the original, you’ll have reduced risk of side effects like an upset stomach.
- Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE): The most expensive of the 3 options and it has been reported to have a poor taste. However, it’s the most absorbent (almost 99% absorption rate) and while some users may not experience the positive effects from other types of creatine, CEE is likely to be effective for everyone.
What’s Creatine Loading and Cycling?
Creatine loading is almost exactly what it sounds like. It’s not a necessary step when starting out, but it will get you the fastest benefits when done properly. A typical example of creatine loading is taking 10-20 grams of creatine for 1-3 weeks. After that, drop the dosage down to 3-6 grams to maintain the effects over a more prolonged period of time. Creatine loading is basically a jumpstart for continuous usage.
Creatine cycling is an interesting topic in that continuous use of creatine will keep producing continuous results. Thus, the concept of cycling is redundant. But it should be noted that when taken for months at a time, the likelihood of side effects are increased (but doesn’t necessarily mean you will experience them).
Train harder and longer with Creatine
When used correctly and consistently for the suggested amount of days (everyone’s recommended dosage and timing to take it will differ, as all bodies are not created equal) you’ll begin to see a difference in the power and size of your muscles. While creatine may not be the answer for everyone, and a very low percentage of people may not feel or see its effectiveness at all, creatine is certainly a great tool for taking your workouts and body to the next level.