Creatine is known to be a natural ingredient that turns into creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine phosphate aids make a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the energy for muscle convulsions. The body produces some of the creatine it uses. It also comes from protein-rich foods such as meat or fish.
Back in the 1970s, scientists found that taking creatine in supplement form might enhance physical performance. In the 1990s, sportspersons started to catch on, and creatine became a popular sports supplement. The supplement is particularly common among high school, college, and specialist athletes, especially football and hockey players, wrestlers, and gymnasts.
Creatine is believed to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover more quickly during exercise. This muscular improvement may help athletes accomplish bursts of speed and energy, especially during short sessions of high-intensity activities such as weightlifting or galloping.
Nevertheless, scientific research on creatine has been varied. Though some studies have found that it does help enhance performance during short periods of athletic activity, there is no indication that creatine helps with endurance sports. Research also shows that not everyone’s muscles respond to creatine some people who use it see no benefit at all.
Regardless of the popularity of creatine among young people, there has been very little research performed in children under age 18. Of all those studies, a few have suggested a positive effect, but the overall data is uncertain. In one study, teenage swimmers performed better after taking creatine, in another study, it helped high school soccer players sprint, dribble, and jump more efficiently.
How Safe Is Creatine?
Just because creatine is organic, does not certainly mean that it is safe and sound. Supplements are not held to the same requirements by the FDA as medications, which means you cannot always know exactly what is in your supplement, or in what amounts.
Investigators still do not know the long-term effects of taking creatine supplements, particularly in young people. Teenagers who take creatine often do so without their doctor’s advice, which can cause them to take more than the suggested dose.
Though most healthy people can take it with no problem, creatine can, in rare cases, have harmful effects, particularly when used in a large amount.
Side effects can include:
- Weight gain
- Breathing difficulty
- Kidney problems
- Stomach upset.
Taking the stimulants caffeine and ephedra with creatine can boost the risk of side effects. Creatine is not suggested for people with kidney or liver disease or diabetes. Others who should avoid taking it are children under age 18 and women who are pregnant or nursing. Additionally, do not use creatine if you are taking any medication or supplement that could affect your blood sugar, because creatine may also affect blood sugar levels.
How Creatine Helps You Gain Muscle and Strength
Creatine is the most efficient supplement for ever-increasing muscle mass and strength. It is a basic supplement in the bodybuilding and fitness communities. Research shows supplementing with creatine can double your strength and lean muscle gains when compared to training alone.
In this article you will have a detailed look at the effects of creatine on strength, power, and muscle mass.
Creatine Enhances Energy Production
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the most fundamental form of energy in your body’s cells. It plays a vital role in metabolism and muscle function. Sadly, you can only store sufficient ATP for 8–10 seconds of high-power exercise. After this, your body must generate new ATP to match the requirements of the activity.
Performing exercise at maximum concentration requires more ATP per second than your body can produce. This is one reason why you can only sprint at full speed for a few seconds. Your body’s ATP energy simply runs out. Creatine supplements boost your body’s stores of phosphocreatine, which is used to produce new ATP during high-intensity exercise.
In reality, just a 6-day creatine load followed by a 2 gram/day maintenance dose can significantly improve your muscle stores. The extra creatine in your muscles can then be used for ATP production, giving a small amount of extra energy before exhaustion sets in.
Creatine can cause abundant changes within muscle cells, indicating your body to build new muscle proteins and increase muscle mass.
Creatine Has Other Benefits for Muscle Function
In addition to creatine’s role in ATP energy manufacture, it may also enhance the function of your muscle cells in other ways. One example is an increase in the water substance of your muscle cells, which is known as cell volumization or bloating. It may also increase IGF-1, a key hormone for muscle growth. These changes prompt several processes that lead to the establishment of new proteins, consequently creating new muscle mass. Creatine may also help you reduce muscle breakdown and retain muscle during exercise. This may result in a larger amount of muscle in the long-term.
Another long-term advantage of creatine is the capability to perform more exercises or duplications and lift heavier weights per training session. Although this may not make a difference in one week, the total amount of weight lifted is a key factor in long-term muscle growth.
Creatine can cause various changes within muscle cells, indicating your body to build new muscle proteins and increase muscle mass.
Creatine Enhances Strength and Power
ATP energy is the key fuel source for high-intensity exercise. Because creatine can increase phosphocreatine levels and hence increase ATP energy production, it is one of the few supplements frequently proven to increase strength and power. One 4-week study found a 17% progress in cycling sprints, an 18-lb (8-kg) increase in bench press 1-rep max and 20% greater workload at a lower weight.
Another study evaluated both gym and fitness-based markers of power output. After 9 weeks of taking creatine, Division 1 college football players watched the following improvements in performance:
- Bench press (1 rep max): 5.2% increase
- Power clean (1 rep max): 3.8% increase
- Squat (1 rep max): 8.7% increase
- High-intensity anaerobic peak power: 19.6% increase
- High-intensity anaerobic capacity: 18.4% increase
- Most of the studies on creatine have found positive effects. One large review found a 5% average improvement in strength and power.
Creatine improves several aspects of strength and power. The average increase may be around 5%.
Creatine Helps You Gain Muscle
There is only a limited legal supplement that can immediately add muscle mass when blended with exercise. Out of all these, creatine is the most successful and has the most technical support. A review of 250 studies matched the most popular muscle building supplements. Creatine provided the greatest advantage of all of them.
One 8-week study found that creatine improved muscle mass when added to an exercise routine. Strength on the bench press was improved, along with a decrease in myostatin, which is a protein that prevents muscle cell growth.
What is more, creatine has benefits for both beginners and more advanced weightlifters. One study among well-trained athletes found that creatine added 5.7 lbs (2.6 kg) of muscle mass, 24 lbs (11 kg) to the bicep curl and 70 lbs (32 kg) to the leg press (1 rep max) (19).
Research has shown creatine supplements can also help women to tone up or improve strength. One study in women found a 60% greater increase in lean mass associated to a group that only strength trained.
Also, a review of over 150 studies reported an average 2.2% increase in lean body mass and a 3.2% decrease in body fat for those taking creatine.
Existing research suggests that creatine, when combined with weight training, is the single most effective supplement for adding muscle mass.
How to Take Creatine for Maximum Gains
Creatine comes in numerous different forms. While the newer versions of creatine show advantageous results, they are no more effective than creatine monohydrate. Until more research has been performed on these new varieties, creatine monohydrate is likely the most effective and commonest option available.
Most studies use a high dose loading approach, which can swiftly elevate your muscle creatine content. Even Though this is not required, it will help you reap the benefits of creatine after just a few days. To load with creatine, take four 5-gram servings throughout the day for about 5-7 days. After that, take 3-5 grams per day to maintain your muscle creatine stores.
The advantages you receive from creatine also depend on your current creatine muscle stores. The graph below shows the varied pre- and post-supplement levels in 16 people. Those with already high creatine stores may obtain less or insignificant benefits from the extra supplements. However, those with low creatine stores may see big improvements. Smaller amounts of creatine can also be obtained from foods, such as red meat. This suggests vegans or anyone eating only small amounts of meat may receive even greater advantages.
Even Though long-term creatine supplementation is safe for healthy people, it may not be appropriate for those with kidney problems or other related diseases.
The most common dosage protocol is a 5-7 day loading phase with about 20 grams of creatine per day, split into 4 doses. This is followed with a 3-5 gram per day maintenance dose.
Should You Take Creatine?
As with most supplements, research shows that a small percentage of people do not get any advantage from using creatine. It may be most beneficial for vegetarians, vegans and those who do not eat much animal protein. And even though creatine is the number one exercise supplement, it will only provide benefits if you consistently follow a reasonable exercise and nutrition plan. If you regularly weight train and are looking to add muscle, creatine supplements may provide faster results while improving gym performance.