All About CREATINE!

Creatine is by far the most popular nutritional supplement…EVER. Yet unfortunately, most people don’t really understand the reasons behind its effectiveness, and how it can help improve performance. For the average exerciser Creatine might as well be a distant cousin of the unicorn, a mythical creature of unknown origin and use.

It’s time to breakthrough all of the myths and explain both the mechanisms of action and protocol for usage.

WHAT IS IT?

Creatine is a substance that occurs naturally in our body and that of other animals as well. It is stored in our liver, muscles, and brain, with 95% of it being in skeletal muscle. The biggest sources of creatine in our diet are meat and fish. Unfortunately, with farming and agricultural processes changing over the years, the amount of creatine we get from our food is extremely low. This is why supplementing with creatine has been proven to provide a great effect.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

First and foremost, creatine is an energy substrate. That means it’s involved in the process of creating energy. ATP is the primary energy source for short-term, high-energy activities. Our body can only store a small amount of ATP, so it needs an effective way to replenish its stores after it runs out. This is where creatine comes in. Two thirds of the creatine stored in our muscles is in the form of phosphocreatine. After ATP is used to power a sprint or a set of deadlifts, phosphocreatine combines with the leftover ADP to create ATP, getting your muscles ready to repeat that intense activity. The more creatine (or phosphocreatine) you have stored in your muscles, the more times you can repeat activities at high intensity. It is this increased work capacity in anaerobic, high energy work that brings the greatest advantage. The more times you can go all out in a sprint, lift, jump, or throw, the more stimuli you provide your body. This increased stimulus allows your body to become bigger, stronger, and faster.

The second biggest reason why creatine can help jack up your performance, is by promoting muscle hypertrophy. That means muscle growth. Through a couple of highly complicated processes, creatine seems to help up regulate the genes related to muscle protein synthesis and also increase the activity of satellite cells within skeletal muscle. These satellite cells are unspecialized stem cells that hang around the outside of muscle tissue, and move in to help repair damaged muscle tissue. It is the addition of these satellite cells into the muscle belly that helps increase its size.

WHO DOES IT BENEFIT?

Many people can benefit from supplementing with creatine for a number of different goals. If you are resistance training in hopes of getting bigger or stronger, improve body composition, or increase strength and power, then creatine will surely help you. If you compete in athletics, most notably, anaerobic type sports then creatine will help you too. Some examples are football, hockey, basketball, sprinting, jumping, throwing, and soccer. Vegetarians tend to respond especially well to creatine supplementation since their normal levels of stored creatine is at the very bottom of the acceptable range. This is due to the lower dietary intake of creatine. Women and men both respond well to creatine supplementation as well.

HOW DO I USE IT?

Creatine Monohydrate is the most studied and most available version of creatine for sale. It is a tasteless and odourless powder that dissolves well in most liquids. The most popular dosage protocol for creatine involves a loading phase of 20g/day for 4-5 days followed by a maintenance load of 3g-5g/day after that. Loading allows you to increase your intramuscular creatine levels quickly, but they still level off after the first 5 days. If you skip the loading phase and take a regular maintenance dose from the start, you will still get increases in performance and intramuscular creatine levels will reach a maximum somewhere between 14 and 20 days.

WHAT CREATINE ISN’T…

Creatine is not a steroid, it is not illegal, and it is not banned. It is one of the cheapest nutritional supplements on the market, and arguably the most effective. Creatine does not damage your kidneys or increase the likelihood of cramping or compartment syndrome.  It does not appear that you can overdose on creatine, but there is also no benefit to greater ingestion after muscle saturation has been reached. Finally, creatine has been rumoured to increased water retention, however this is another myth. Research shows that increases in body water are directly related to increases in lean body mass, and overall hydration levels do not change.

If you strength train or play sports, creatine can help you. Maybe it’s time to give it a try.

 

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