March 28, 2016

Creatine 101

A question about creatine came in from the Facebook group. Creatine is one of most studied supplements. But what is creatine and what does it do?

Creatine is actually a molecule that provides the phosphorous atom to our bodies, which is needed to create ATP. ATP is a power source for the body’s cells. When you supplement with creatine, it will give you more muscular energy, which can be especially beneficial for weight lifting. It has also shown to be protective for the brain and liver.

Many wonder if creatine is a steroid. Though it has qualities of a performance enhancing supplement, it is not a steroid. Creatine has no effect on the body’s hormones. It simply provides phosphorous and ATP. Through diet, you can get creatine by eating animal products. Some plant-based diets will have phosphorous, but not in the same density as organ meats and muscle.

So how much creatine should you be consuming? The standard dose is five grams per day. Eventually, the body will saturate and hit a peak with how much it can store. At first, you can try creatine “loading,” where you would take 20 to 25 grams to get to that saturation point faster.

Creatine does have one notable negative side effect in the sense that it makes muscles retain water. Though it will make your muscle mass appear greater, it will likely show as weight gain on the scale. The good news is that you cannot overdose on creatine. While consuming creatine, you should increase your water intake to help avoid stomach cramping. If cramping persists, there are other types of creatine that are water soluble and should help with this. The primary type of creatine is called creatine monohydrate. This is the most inexpensive and widely used.

Whatever type you choose, be sure to avoid creatine ethyl ester, as this type degrades in your digestion and never really gets into your system to make an impact. With all other types, you will be sure to see the real benefits of this widely studied and used supplement called creatine.






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