One of the most popular and extensively researched supplements is creatine. Similar to whey protein powder, it’s a staple in any supplement arsenal.
Creatine is the most widely researched exercise/sport supplement. If size or strength is a goal, you take creatine. Everyday.
Creatine has long-term advantages for your health in addition to the strength and size benefits.
CREATINE: WHAT IS IT?
This substance is an amino acid that is naturally occurring and typically derived from foods like red meat and shellfish. It is created in the liver and kidneys and is stored in human muscle and brain tissue. It isn't regarded as a necessary nutrient because, with simply nutrition and a balanced diet, your body can create it on its own.
Energy generation and ATP play a key role in the chemical reaction that gives creatine its unique properties. A large amount of energy is stored in the bond between the phosphate groups in an ATP molecule, which is why your body stores these ATP molecules in the muscles for use when needed. When your cells or muscles need energy, they break this bond.
Despite this fact, your muscles only store about 3 seconds worth
of ATP at any one time.
The phosphagen system, which your body relies on, cycles through ATP and ADP in terms of breakdown and creation. It will rapidly restore these levels and get you back to work. These creatine reserves are used up in roughly 8 to 10 seconds as well.
And here is when taking supplements is useful. You can maintain a higher level of energy production if you have more creatine in your muscles. Here is also where the gains come into play, even though it doesn't last very long, it's used for high intensity and heavy resistance training—just enough to crush another set of 5 reps.
CREATINE SUPPS = GAINS
Creatine's popularity started to soar in the 1990s when bodybuilders realized how effective it was for enhancing muscle growth and exercise performance. Creatine has a variety of advantages in weightlifting and bodybuilding due to its chemical properties and its effectiveness in the muscles.
Comparing creatine to six other supplements, research demonstrates that it is the most effective supplement for building muscle mass. Moreover, studies have shown that using creatine supplements can result in substantially faster muscle fiber growth, as much as double or triple.
Another study discovered that using creatine supplements even increased a person's bench press capacity by doubling it over the course of the 12-week study. All of this is a result of how creatine affects the muscles' ability to produce energy.
It enhances hydration, helps to train vertical power output, increases maximal power and strength, boosts sprint performance, shortens recovery times, supports muscle growth without adding body fat, and helps to delay tiredness for longer.
Overall, it's impossible to contest that creatine is among the best supplements available if you're serious about gaining strength and muscle mass.
ADVANTAGES OF CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION FOR HEALTH
The advantages don't start and stop at the gym. There is evidence for a variety of other advantages that creatine may offer, even if the majority of research does not yet offer conclusive data.
One study focused on an already creatine-deficient population, primarily an older age group of vegans and vegetarians. Creatine supplementation improved the group's capacity for abstract thought and reasoning. Research suggests that creatine may have a positive impact on brain health.
Studies have also shown that creatine may help those with cardiac conditions maintain heart health.
This is because patients' physical endurance may be improved, skeletal muscle strength is increased, and creatine may be able to minimize issues.
Last but not least, when used as a cream or in a moisturizer, creatine may also be beneficial for skin health. It has the power to lessen sagging skin, wrinkles, and sun damage.
CREATINE HCL VS. CREATINE MONOHYDRATE
Creatine monohydrate is by far the most often used kind of creatine. This strategy has been utilized for decades and is proven and true for accelerating your growth in the gym. Creatine HCL is the newest version of this supplement.
While both are used for the same purposes, HCL differs in that hydrochloric acid is molecularly bonded to it. This improves the rate of absorption and enhances solubility. The key advantage here is improved bioavailability since your muscle cells can use it more quickly after it is broken down and more swiftly.
Your body has less of an opportunity to retain water as a result of how quickly it is consumed, and there may be fewer adverse effects as a result. But as of right moment, there simply isn’t enough research on the subject to determine whether HCL is actually better. Gains are certain no matter which option you choose.
HOW MANY GRAMS OF CREATINE IS ENOUGH?
Although creatine is classified as "non-essential," unlike certain other nutrients, this does not indicate that it is not necessary for a healthy body. Instead, non essential indicates that since our bodies are capable of producing it, we don't need to worry about consuming "creatine sources" from our food.
But, in order for our bodies to be able to produce the required amount of creatine, we do need to eat a balanced diet. Our bodies naturally produce 1 to 2 g of creatine each day, which is plenty for the majority of people (and those who are eating well).
Moreover, meats including fish, hog, chicken, and beef contain creatine. A 3-ounce portion of beef contains roughly 0.4 g of creatine, while the exact amount depends on the source. For average people, this might be sufficient, but if you train hard, this won't replenish the creatine that is lost during exercise.
So, how much should you take to gain strength and size?
There are actually various approaches to this, and the suggested dose of creatine will vary depending on the stages of your training.
HOW TO USE CREATINE
The most typical method for consuming creatine consists of two steps. Your muscles should reach their maximum level of creatine storage during the first stage, and continue to do so during the second. Preface: The loading phase is not mandatory. It simply speeds the process up by about a week or two.
The loading phase, which is the first stage, lasts for five to seven days.
Your muscles can no longer store any more creatine after a creatine loading session since your levels have reached their maximum. This relies on consuming roughly 20 grams of creatine each day and is intended to be quick and effective. Despite the fact that you can take this in its whole in one sitting each day, some people do feel stomach discomfort after taking such a high amount.
Because of this, it is advised to spread out your doses throughout the day (at about 5 g).
The maintenance phase, which comes after the recovery period, can go on for as long as you want to keep taking creatine. It is advised that you take 3 to 5 g of creatine per day as a maintenance dose because your body breaks down and excretes creatine every day. It's ideal to keep taking a daily dose even when you're not exercising because creatine stockpiles are destroyed even on rest days.
OPTIMAL TIMING FOR CREATINE
Let’s examine the controversy around creatine timing now that we are aware of when to take it (and how much) throughout our training cycle. This is divided into people who think it's better to take it before a workout and people who think it's best to take it after a workout. It makes sense to take creatine before working out since more ATP is made available for usage by the body when creatine is taken.
Increased ATP results in more power, and more power enables you to exercise harder and achieve additional improvements. But, taking it after a workout makes sense since after you've gassed up your muscles, they are deprived of nutrients. They become starved for nutrients of some kind, which creatine supplies. After that, your body eagerly uses it and reaps the rewards.
The availability of creatine when needed is the third defense. Because the substance is so valuable, both lifters and non lifters can benefit from consuming it reglarly. But what does science have to say? The science isn't really that clear-cut, though.
Several studies have shown conflicting results. For instance, some research contends that taking it before exercise is preferable, while others suggest that taking it after exercise is preferable. There isn't a decisive right or wrong method known at this time. We can interpret this to suggest that any time is a suitable time to take it.
Instead of stressing out over when to take your creatine before or after a workout—just make sure you're taking it consistently and in adequate amounts. Gains will materialize over time.
CARBS AND CREATINE
Different ways of boosting the bioavailability of creatine in your muscles have also been the subject of many studies. When both were ingested at the same time, creatine reserves in the muscles were efficiently increased, making carbohydrates the clear winners in this situation.
Comparable results have been observed when protein and carbohydrates are consumed in an equal ratio, enabling the muscles to absorb more creatine. There is a catch, though. For example, 100 grams of carbohydrates were employed in the studies that investigated this to observe a notable improvement in the absorption by the muscles.
Comparable measurements were made for proteins and carbohydrates, which came out to 50 g and 47 g, respectively. It is understood that this approach isn't very practical. We should still bear in mind, nevertheless, that taking creatine with protein and carbohydrates promotes its absorption. Even while we might not see a noticeable change right away like in the research, it might benefit you in the long term.
TYPES OF CREATINE
We established the benefits of consuming creatine with meals, but it doesn't mean to sprinkle it on your chicken breast and broccoli. The most prevalent form of creatine is powder and combining it with water makes it simple to consume. But consuming it as a shake, smoothie, or juice is also a fantastic and delicious option. Like whey protein powder, the possibilities are truly endless. Some people even take it in their coffee.
Creatine is also available in pill form, however, be mindful that this may take longer for your body to digest and absorb. Powder is the ideal option if fast absorption is your goal. It is also advisable to eat it after a meal because doing so enhances absorption. Furthermore, having creatine alongside food might minimize the upset stomach that some people experience after doing so. In addition to this, it works well when paired with electrolytes.
Pre workout with creatine, whey protein powders, and other dietary supplements frequently contain creatine. Just make sure the products you purchase are good quality and contain the right dose of creatine. Just because your’re getting your creatine monohydrate from Walmart or GNC doesn’t mean you shouldn’t closely examine the label. You rarely hear of somebody questioning “how much creatine is in Bang?” Usually once they see there is SOME creatine in the supplement they get it not realizing that less then 5g/day will have very little impact.
WEIGHT GAIN AND CREATINE (OR LOSS)
Creatine can has a tendency to cause people to gain weight, though a lot will rely on your diet and whether you're bulking or cutting. This does not cause fat accumulation, though. Muscle mass increase is the most visible impact of creatine. You'll be able to work out longer and harder, which will result in both muscle growth and increased fat burning. Water retention is the other side of this.
Those who use creatine frequently have water retention in their muscle cells. This normally only amounts to 0.5 kg to 4 kg more water weight, which isn't much, but if you're trying to seem extremely "cut," this could be a problem. Your nutrition and the stage of your training can play a role in this bloating.
Both cutting and bulking phases can be accomplished with the use of creatine powder. It's also crucial to remember that even while the water weight will go away once you stop taking creatine, the muscle gains will endure. Creatine will eventually assist you in becoming slimmer.
CREATINE SIDE EFFECTS
Due to the supposed hazards of taking creatine for an extended period of time, it has received some bad press. Typically, this relates to assertions that creatine is difficult for the liver and kidneys.
Studies have concluded this is complete nonsense if you are adequately hydrated and do not have any kidney or liver issues to begin with.
The kidneys filter creatinine, one of the metabolites of creatine, out of the body. But, among adults with healthy kidneys, this has never been a problem. If you do have a history of renal problems, a nutritionist may be able to help you further your research in this area.
TOO MUCH CREATINE?
Taking more creatine does not result in greater improvements. Using substantially more than the advised dose will simply cost you more money because your body can only store so much. Your body's capacity to store energy depends on the size of your muscles. Hence, you should theoretically be able to store more in your body the more jacked you are.
Creatine storage capacity varies from person to person and ranges from 2 to 3 g per kilogram of muscle mass. The majority of research has tended to stay in the 3 to 5 g per day range; however, in addition to supplementation, your body also produces this substance naturally.
Although higher doses have also been studied and you should take more (5 to 7 grams) during the loading period, this isn't always the dosage you should stick to over the long run. Save your money, save your health, and stick to the dosages advised. You can also consult a dietician for more guidance.
IMPLEMENTING A HEALTHIER STYLE
When it comes to safety, advantages, and the capacity to intensify your workouts, creatine seems like a wonder drug. And while to some extent that may be true, it's crucial to keep in mind that there are no magical pills.
Creatine must be used in addition to a healthy lifestyle if you wish to benefit from it to the fullest.
It essentially entails getting adequate sleep, exercising frequently (using the right exercises), and maintaining a healthy diet. You can only fully utilize creatine's potential once all three of these staples have been established.
But once you've established consistency with regular resistance training, rest, and proper sleep, creatine can really help you advance. Simply ensure that the compound you purchase is of a good caliber, and you'll be well on your way to developing bigger muscles and improving your long-term health.