Creatine is nothing more than an organic compound, which is found in meats and fish. Consuming high quantities of these foods can increase natural creatine levels. Creatine exists in your body and approximately 95% is stored in skeletal muscle as creatine phosphate (CP). Creatine phosphate binds to Adenosine Di-phosphate (ADP), becoming Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is used to supply your body with energy.
When you train at a high intensity, ATP stores are broken down and become ADP; losing one of its phosphate molecules, which provides you with that quick, explosive energy. Supplementing with Creatine has been shown to increase concentration levels of Creatine within muscle cells therefore, allowing ATP to be restored quickly. In a nut shell, Creatine is natural and provides your body with energy.
Where is it from?
Creatine Monohydrate is a combination of 3 amino acids: Glycine, Methionine and Arginine so there is nothing unusual about it or where it’s derived from, it’s simply an amino acid compound. Creatine Monohydrate is the most scientifically tested supplement on the market and has been proven time and time again. So you can be sure it does what it says on the tin.
Who is it for?
Creatine can benefit those wanting to improve their physical performance during short term; high intensity exercise. So Creatine supplements are for those who are looking to increase their strength, improve explosive power, add lean muscle mass and/or improve their physical performance.
Which Creatine to choose?
There any too many forms of Creatine on the market to name them all. A few of the popular ones you may have seen; Creatine Monohydrate; the most researched and tested form of Creatine which increases intracellular liquid therefore increasing muscle volume.
Creatine Ethyl Ester is a ‘no bloat’ Creatine and has been said to cause no water retention in the stomach. This makes it suitable for those who may suffer from the uncomfortable bloating associated with Creatine Monohydrate.
Kre-Alkalyn is a relatively new form of Creatine and is said to be at the optimum pH level for maximum absorption. Both Ethyl Ester and Kre-Alkalyn require a smaller dosage due to their ability to be up taken by the body at a more efficient rate.
Other buffered Creatines combine various forms of creatine and carbohydrate sources to assist with the delivery of creatine to muscles and to aid in your recovery following exercise.
When to have creatine?
There is no hard evidence which states a difference of Creatine timing as long as it is ingested on a daily basis. However, supplementing with Creatine post-workout will deliver it to the muscles most efficiently. As you ingest carbs after a workout, they are broken down into glucose which will act as a shuttle and drive nutrients (including Creatine) into the muscles.
On training days depending on the form of Creatine, take around 2-5g with your post-workout shake or your first meal of the day.
You can supplement Creatine all year round but taking a break every 12 weeks is recommended. Have a 4 week period off Creatine and cycle it like that on a consistent basis.
Any side effects?
Supplementing with Creatine Monohydrate has been shown to increase the intracellular fluid; this gives your muscles a fuller, boulder appearance and is often confused with ‘water retention’. This water retention within the muscle cell is not actually a bad thing, this means you are more anabolic (able to build muscle) as you have a more hydrated muscle cell.
Many sceptics have often confused intracellular (within muscles) water retention with water retention in general. Yes water retention within the stomach will cause bloating and discomfort however, creatine doesn’t cause this issue unless you are loading with high quantities of around 20g+ per day and/or combining it with high amounts of carbohydrates. Even so, not everyone will experience this. The simple solution; lower your dosage so you don’t get the ‘bloated’ feeling.
Having a 5g serving of creatine monohydrate once per day shouldn’t cause any discomfort. Plus a 5g dosage over 3 weeks will saturate your muscles in the same way excessive loading of 20g per day would over a 5 day period but without the associated bloating. So, intracellular fluid (fluid within the muscle cells) caused by supplementing with creatine monohydrate is a bonus as you’re in a more anabolic state.
There are many other claims such as Creatine causes liver damage or kidney and heart problems but there has been no evidence that such issues have been proven true in relation to Creatine supplementation.
Creatine has been shown to work well alongside the supplementing with Beta Alanine and HMB. I would still recommend your daily multivitamin; to support your micronutrient needs and Whey protein
to ensure you have an adequate intake of protein to repair muscle tissue.