When deciding on a product, a lot of us often fall victim to making decisions without having enough information to back it. Creatine is one such supplemental drink that there is a lot of chat about, but not enough knowledge and facts, And the less the knowledge, the more the fear around it. Here is everything you need to know about creatine:
What is Creatine? And what are the benefits of it?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that is naturally produced in the body, it is mainly found in the liver, and has a crucial role in the production of energy in the cells. In terms of how it does this, the key takeaway is that it does this by converting adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – the energy carrier in the cell.
Creatine brings many benefits to the body in terms of exercise, here are the three main ones:
- Muscle cells can produce more energy: We touched on this above a little bit, Creatine supplements contain creatine phosphates (CP), which help in the production of ATP – the chemical crucial for energy transfer, amongst other essential functions. During exercise, we break down ATP for energy, which means creatine is of extreme use during such intense workouts.
- Effective in increasing muscle mass: Creatine is one of the most popular choices for muscle growth. One of the reasons for the popularity is that studies have shown increases in lean body weight and muscle size within a week. For example, in a study done by Keider, he concluded that total weight may increase by 1kg within a week. Upon further examination, this weight was lean tissue and not water weight, contrary to popular opinion. The property that causes muscle cells to inflate and look larger also acts as a stimulus for protein synthesis. In other words, the study proved it works effectively in the short and long run.
- Improves Metabolism and High-intensity training endurance: One of the results of having the improved ATP production is the ability to resist long periods of intense workouts. The metabolic rates also increase which are especially helpful if you are looking to burn fat, which, let’s face it, we all could do with. Research studies have shown that creatine supplementation has improved sprint performance. Sprint cardio is linked to ATP which is facilitated by – you guessed it- creatine. This is an important point of consideration as there is a misconception that it should only be used by those lifting the heavyweights. Increased metabolic rates are of use to everyone – especially those trying to burn fat.
When should I take Creatine?
One of the most commonly asked questions with any supplement: Pre-workout or post?
It’s a tricky question. If you are looking for a clear answer, it’s ‘Just take it!’. The research regarding this question is somewhat split, however, there are more studies that support the notion that you should take it post workout. There is sufficient research that suggests that intense exercise results in increased release of anabolic hormones like insulin. Insulin helps enhance creatine uptake, which is why it is an effective option to take creatine after the workout with water or your protein shake, to maintain high creatine levels.
How much to take?
It’s important to understand the initial ‘loading’ period that is required when you take creatine. This is when you take roughly around 0.3g per KG of your weight for the first 5 days. So, if you weigh 30 KG (keeping it simple) you would require 10g for the first 3-5 days. I know what you’re thinking, ‘that’s a lot..’ but there is ample research which determines that this is the best way to increase muscle creatine stores. After this, it’s best to take about 3-5g a day only. Don’t be surprised that if this results in a slight weight gain over the week (which might be your goal, in which case, be happy!). However, for those who don’t want to gain that initial weight, it is better to take the ‘steady’ approach, that is, 5g a day for about 28days.
Take home message
So now you know, Supplementing creatine is massively beneficial in terms of adding muscle mass and improving your performance in high-intensity workouts. One of the best characteristics I believe is that it gives quick (something we are all desperate for) as well as long-term results. Take it after your workout and, depending on if you want to gain or lose weight, select the dosage accordingly.