Creatine is one of the most popular and widely used bodybuilding supplements around. It’s been available for well over 20-years and in the world of supplements, that means only one thing – it works! It has been studied exhaustively and there are tons of independent creatine reviews and anecdotal evidence that point toward the usefulness of this well-known supplement.
However, lots of people don’t really know what creatine is and, more worryingly, think it is a steroid so click to read more and you’ll learn a little more about creatine supplements.
So Just What is Creatine?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in the body (in the vertebrates) and assists to supply energy to all cells in the body (mainly to muscle). It is a substance made in your body, which is also present in fish and meat. So it plays an essential role in energy production – especially “quick” energy like the type used in sprinting and lifting weights. Every energetic reaction in your body is powered by something called ATP which is short for adenosine triphosphate and the more ATP you have available, the better.
Does creatine work? Absolutely. It has been a tried and tested bodybuilding supplement for a very long time and has endorsements by top athletes in the field such as Arnold Schwarzenegger.
What Does Creatine Do and the Benefits of Taking It?
Taking a creatine supplement over time will give you the benefit of more energy so you can do more reps, and will help increase your speed of recovery between sets and also improve your recovery between workouts.
Creatine helps resynthesize ATP and the more ATP you have, the more energy you have. Think of ATP is the energy currency of your body; the more of it you have, the more energy-rich you will be and the more energy you’ll have available.
Creatine also loves water and helps increase the amount of water in your muscle cells. This not only makes them look bigger but also improves leverage which allows you to lift bigger weights. Bigger weights combined with more reps and a faster recovery means better results from your training.
Creatine has also been linked to improved mental function and better sleep so it’s not just the best supplement for your muscles!
How to Use Creatine
Creatine is available in several different forms; there are powders designed to be mixed with water or juice, pills, and liquid. There is even injectable creatine although that is only really used in racehorses!
With all types of creatine, most manufacturers recommend a five-day “loading phase” where you take 20-grams per day. Once the loading phase is complete, you reduce your dose to a 5-gram per day maintenance dose. Other experts suggest that the best creatine brands do not need to be loaded and your product will last longer if you just stick with 5-grams per day.
Best Creatine Brand
It’s hard to say exactly which the best type of creatine supplement is as it depends on your personal preference. For example, the powder mixes easily with water and can be added to your protein shake or morning orange juice but for some people, creatine pills are best because they can be taken more conveniently whereas creatine liquid is very concentrated and portable.
The best creatine pills, powders, and liquids tend to contain creatine monohydrate which is the most common and tested form of creatine. There are several great brands around including Optimum Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine Powder, Musclepharm Creatine, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Series Iron CRE3, and Muscle Tech’s Cell-Tech and Muscle Advance Creatine (who often have useful 50% discount deals on the go). Some of these are pure creatine while others include added carbs to enhance creatine uptake into your muscles.
Click here to get your Bodybuilding Creatine.
Does Creatine Work for Everyone?
Because creatine is a naturally occurring substance, some people produce more than others. If your natural creatine levels are already high, supplemental creatine will produce less noticeable results than for someone whose levels are lower.
Also, if you eat a lot of red meat, you may well have elevated creatine levels. To see if you are a good or bad responder to creatine, make sure you take in consistently for eight to twelve weeks in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and then review your progress.
Creatine Side Effects
Creatine is a very safe product for most users – that’s clear from the fact is has been available for so many years. Just be sure to follow the recommended creatine dosage as specified by the manufacturer.
However, there are a few minor side effects to look out for…
even with the best creatine supplements, some people complain of stomach upsets when they use these products. Stomach upsets are most common during the loading phase. If you can’t “tough it out” for five days, skip the loading phase altogether and stick with five grams per day instead. It’ll just take a little longer for your creatine supplement to start working.
because creatine monohydrate loves water and drives water preferentially into your muscles, it can cause dehydration and muscle cramps. This issue is best avoided by making sure you drink plenty of water every day and not just the days you exercise. Shoot for at least two liters of water per day – more if you live in a hot country or are an especially heavy sweater. Weigh yourself before and after exercise and for every half kilo, you lose, drink a half-liter of water.
some people worry that creatine is bad for your kidneys. While it’s true that your kidneys will have to work a little harder than normal when you use creatine, there is no supporting evidence that indicates this will result in long-term damage. To be on the safe side, cycle creatine on and off and do not exceed the recommended doses.
If you lift weights, play a power sport like rugby or boxing, or simply want to maximize your strength and power in the gym, creatine supplementation can be very beneficial. It’s safe for most people and most definitely is not a steroid!
Creatine works best in conjunction with bodybuilding exercises. For a good overview check out this free pdf for building a great six-pack.