Creatine has been a staple of sport’s nutrition supplements
for many years, for good reason. This amino acid is one of the most studied ergogenic supplements
out there with proven benefits.
What is creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid derivative made of arginine, methionine and glycine that your body uses to make something called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a type of muscle energy that helps increase your strength and fuel cellular processes.
Foods like red meat and fish naturally contain creatine, although in much smaller amounts than what you can obtain through supplementation. Your body also makes its own creatine—about 1 to 2 grams per day.
Since creatine is mainly found in animal products, those on a plant-based diet may significantly benefit from creatine supplementation.
Although there are different creatine
types, it is the monohydrate that’s been shown to be the most effective.
Science-backed benefits of creatine
1. Creatine boosts energy
ATP is a type of energy system that our body uses for quick, intense movement, such as in a sprint or when lifting a heavy weight
. It does this by breaking down the ATP and using the phosphate (P) for fuel. Our bodies need another source of phosphate to keep pushing through intense exercise. When we supplement with creatine
, we can use the phosphate it provides to make more ATP, and you guessed it, more energy.
2. Creatine aids muscle contraction
When your muscles gain access to more ATP, they can contract more readily
during high-intensity exercise. This means that during repeated short term bouts of effort, like during weight lifting, you may be able to eke out another few reps.
3. Creatine enhances muscle performance
Since creatine can increase your energy levels, you’ll be able to perform quick bursts of activity at a higher level, thereby giving you a performance edge. However, these same effects aren’t necessarily observed with long-duration exercise. Use creatine to help boost your sprinting and weight lifting workouts.
4. Creatine helps you build lean muscle
Without getting too technical, creatine decreases something called myostatin. Myostatin limits your ability to use energy for muscle building. Since creatine safely lowers your myostatin levels, your ability to build lean muscle increases. Keep in mind that you still need to combine creatine supplementation
with a solid strength training plan to see results.
Another way that creatine helps you build sizeable muscles is by increasing muscle cell volume. Over time, this swelling may boost your ability to synthesize protein and, therefore, build muscle mass.
5. Creatine leads to greater strength gains
Since creatine bolsters your ATP access, you can push out extra reps or extra squat jumps
during your training session. This increased work capacity and volume can lead to greater strength gains over time. Being able to perform better for longer means more work completed towards your strength goals.
How to take creatine
Creatine loading is a popular method by which a large amount of creatine is ingested for a specific period, followed by a regular daily dose. However, there is little evidence to support the need to load creatine, which is a relief for anybody feeling overwhelmed or confused about taking it effectively.
In truth, you only need to take about 5 grams of creatine per day and don’t need to worry about loading up on it.
You should know that creatine increases your body’s capacity to hold water, so you might be surprised when you step on the scale. Although the number may be higher, this water weight gives your muscles a nice rounded appearance. Creatine does not cause bloating, just extra water held in your muscle’s cells.
As stated, those on a plant-based diet may especially benefit; however, the typical omnivore consumes around 1 gram of creatine per day. Studies show added benefits from supplementing with 3-5 grams per day. There are no negative effects found from taking creatine long-term.
Simply dissolve your creatine monohydrate in warm water or green tea before, during, or after exercise or any time of day.
Try Vitacost’s superior quality Black Series Raw Creatine Powder
, an unflavored pure creatine monohydrate that can easily be added to any beverage.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.