If you’re a fitness nut, you might probably think about what drink or supplement should you use to gain more mass and grow a leaner body. One of these powerful supplements is Creatine.
Creatine is one of the most popular sports supplements that specially designed for mass gain and used by powerlifters, weightlifters, boxers, and track and field athletes. It is popular among elite athlete and even the beginner gym-goers mainly because it is quite effective and it works well in terms of different health benefits, enhancing muscle power, density, and strength.
In this article, let dive right into the world of Creatine and let find out how it can be beneficial your overall workout performance.
What is Creatine?
Before anything else, let’s define what exactly Creatine is.
If you’re thinking Creatine is some type of steroid – you’re dead wrong.
Creatine is a type of substance or compound usually found naturally in the muscle cells. It is used for the body’s energy production and boosting it during any high-intensity exercise such as heavy lifting. As mentioned earlier, it is one of the most popular supplement among bodybuilders, athlete, and other gym-goers and it is used for enhancing their overall strength and performance and to more muscle density as well.
Amino acids are much more like Creatine primarily because Creatine is created or produced using amino acids such as arginine and glycine. The factors affecting the storage of Creatine in the body is being done by consuming meat, proper exercise, testosterone levels, and the amount of muscle mass.
Creatine supplementation can increase the level of your phosphocreatine which is stored in the cells and process it as a high-energy molecule called ATP. It is your body’s energy currency and used to boost exercise performance, increases the muscle density, strength, and tissue recovery.
How do Creatine works?
Creatine can be beneficial in your health and boost your overall performance during exercises or workouts. It works by increasing the phosphocreatine stores in your muscle during a high-intensity workout such as heavy lifting or strength training. More phosphocreatine store means more production of ATP which plays a significant role in the energy production during intense workout sessions.
You can gain muscle through Creatine supplements by boosting your workload or volume during a single workout session which is known to have a significant and long-term effect on muscle growth. Creatine supplementation can also increase and improve cell signaling to the muscles and help with the production new muscle tissues and repair the damaged ones.
According to one study, after the Creatine supplementation, there is a large rise in the anabolic hormones in the body. It also increases the water content of the muscle cells or cell hydration that can lead to the cell volumization and muscle growth. Consuming creatine can also increase total muscle mass by reducing your body’s protein breakdown and you can gain muscle using creatine by decreasing the level of protein myostatin which is known for inhibiting new muscle growth. A study also showed that supplementation of creatine can also increase the phosphocreatine stores in the brain which may improve brain health and protect it from any neurological disease such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Ischemic Stroke, Epilepsy, and other motor neuron diseases.
What is the effect of creatine on muscle growth?
Creatine supplementation can cause short-term and long-term effectiveness in muscle growth. The benefits may vary for different people such as in the sedentary individuals, elite athletes, and even the elderlies. One study conducted on the group elderly shown that creatine supplementation combines with a weight training program has been shown that their muscle mass and leg strength has been increased.
Below is a list of detailed information about how creatine can be beneficial in muscle growth.
Creatine can boost your body’s energy production
ATP or the Adenosine Triphosphate as mentioned earlier is the body’s energy currency usually in the cells and it also plays a significant role in the different functions the muscles and metabolism. The ATP production is good only for 8-10 seconds after an intense workout session. Immediately after that, the production of new ATP to match the demands of the activity in the body will now occur.
Running out of ATP energy is the primary reasons why you can only sprint at full speed for a few seconds. With the use of creatine supplementation, as mentioned earlier, it will increase your body’s phosphocreatine stores which is mainly used for the production of new ATP during every strength-based activities.
Creatine improves other muscle functions
As we all know that creatine can boost ATP energy production in the body, it can also improve the different functions in the muscle cells. The in water content in the muscle cells or swelling or sometimes called cell volumization and the increasing level of hormones that responsible for muscle growth are some examples.
Creatine can also lower muscle breakdown and maintain it during heavy-lifting or an which can lead to the production of more muscles in the long-term. The supplement can also give you the ability to do more repetitions, exercises, and go through heavier weights during every workout sessions.
Creatine can boost your power and strength
ATP is known to boost high-intensity exercise mainly because creatine can increase the phosphocreatine levels which also plays a fundamental role in the high production of ATP energy in the body. Creatine is just one of the supplements that used for increasing our body’s strength as well power for up to 5%.
Creatine can help for gaining muscle density
One the legal supplements that can be combined with proper exercise is creatine. It is backed scientific supports. According to one study conducted on athletes, creatine can increase the muscle mass when added to an exercise or training program by reducing the production of myostatin that can slow the muscle cell growth.
What are benefits of Creatine?
Here are some reasons why you should add Creatine to your regimen.
- Creatine will give you supercharge strength. If you’re trying to build strength and eventually getting tired of trying. If yes then creatine can give your body a boost to the next level. As mentioned earlier, creatine supplementation can boost the production of phosphocreatine which is essential in energy production in the body as well and the key to better performance in different intense and strength-building exercises. Creatine can be found in creatine-food such as pork, beef, salmon, and tuna.
- Boost the process of damage repair in the muscle.
Creatine supplements can repair the damage after injury and proven to enhance the recovery process athletes who experienced an injury. The creatine may also an antioxidant which can help to reduce cramping as well as in the rehabilitation of the brain after a severe accidents or injuries.
- Accelerate your reaction time. According to researchers, jumpers or sprinters who took creatine supplements is found to have an improved startup in their play by roughly 10% during the first 30 seconds. So if you’re looking to improve your overall athletic performance, try creatine shake now.
- Boost the production of testosterone. Once you reach the age of 30, a study has been shown it’s the time where the testosterone levels will decrease that could also lead to a decline in sex drive, endurance, strength, mental sharpness, and energy. There are many solutions to prevent this – by the use of testosterone replacement therapy or injections, however, this could also lead to different health risks. One thing you can try is, of course, creatine supplements. According to one study, you can increase the level of testosterone by supplementing with creatine combined with proper diet and exercise.
- Give your mental sharpness a boost. Creatine is well-known to boost physical performance, but it has been also shown to improve mental health. According to one study conducted in the 45 subjects or participants, a daily dose of creatine supplements (5 grams) for 6 weeks period can give the participants the ability to process information in a rapid way and memory improvement as well.
- Improve your overall productivity. One study concluded that creatine supplementation can give a significant impact on your overall performance for all physical activity including doing household chores or gym workouts.
- Boost the process of muscle growth. Again. Creatine contains protein which can be beneficial in maximizing muscle growth especially in the mass and strength of the myogenic satellite cells for muscle regeneration and skeletal muscle maintenance as well.
What are the other forms of Creatine?
As the increasing popularity of creatine continues, there many different forms of creatine supplements are now available, below is the list, choose which type is best for you.
This type of creatine is mostly inexpensive but it’s quite effective. It is the most widely used creatine form which is proven to increase muscular strength, power, and size. However, study shown that 99.1% of the creatine monohydrate is mostly target and delivered to your skeletal muscles.
- Considered as one of the most effective types of creatine that provides amazing results in muscle growth, mass, and strength as well as in overall performance.
- It may not be soluble in water.
- Decreases the uptake of creatine into the muscle by only 1% in the body due to its low surface area.
- Too much of it may cause stomach discomfort, bloat, and diarrhea.
- It doesn’t require a loading phase.
- Buffered Creatine or Kre-Alkalyn
This type of creatine contains a small amount of alkaline powder like bicarbonate. The slight amount of alkaline is added to the creatine can reduce the breakdown of creatine in the stomach and boost the creatine uptake into the muscles. The effectiveness of the – is proven in one study. According to that, subjects who took 5 grams of creatine monohydrate with 1.5 grams of – for 28 has been shown to have a significant increase in overall performance, improved muscle strength, mass, and power.
- No loading phase is required.
- Bloating and stomach discomfort are less to occur.
- It might be pricey.
Using the of creatine supplements offers less water for minimal bloating. The benefits of creatine Hydrochloride is the same as the creatine monohydrate. HCL is basically a micronized form of creatine and the manufacturers’ claims that it will require less consumption and less water, which can contribute to the reduction of bloating or other gastrointestinal symptoms that you may experience. Further research and studies are still needed to prove that this type of creatine is superior to the monohydrate types.
- This type of creatine can offer the same effectiveness as the monohydrate creatine, the only difference is it has a larger surface area and smaller molecules.
- Less bloating and stomach problems.
- More effective and purer compared to the monohydrate.
- It requires a loading phase.
- It might be slightly more expensive compared to the creatine monohydrate.
- Creatine Nitrate
This type of creatine supplement only requires small dosages. As one of the newest creatine supplement forms, Creatine Nitrate is produced by binding the creatine molecule to a nitrate molecule. This combination of nitrate and creatine is proven with scientific support. According to one study, it has been found that there is no significant difference in the group who took nitrate and monohydrate groups, however, the subject who took small amount dose of creatine nitrate form supplements are found to have an improvement their overall exercise performance compared to the other groups who took a placebo.
When should be the best time to take Creatine?
The loading phase is a strategy used by many people who use creatine supplements to rapidly increase their muscle growth and stores. During the loading phase, you can assume that your body’s creatine stores reached its maximum capacity and all that’s needed is the right amount of creatine to maintain and replenish its levels.
To get the most out of creatine, you should take 20 grams of it per day for at least 5-7 days and it should be split into four 5 grams of doses on the whole 24 hours or throughout the day.
You can improve the creatine absorption by consuming protein or carb-rich meals, in this way the release of insulin will also improve.
Why use creatine before and after your workout?
The ideal times of the day that is best to take the creatine supplement would be around 30 minutes up to 1 hour before your training session followed by an immediate post-workout combined with your protein shake. Taking the supplement early as 30 minutes allows your body to have enough time for the digestion of creatine and distributes it to the whole body to help you boost your performance during your training sessions.
As the level of creatine in your body decreases very quickly after an intense workout and take much longer to replenish or reproduce, so it’s no-brainer that you should have enough creatine in your body to keep your performance at its best.
Should you use Creatine for cutting?
Cutting is commonly practiced by bodybuilders and other fitness competitors which involves the restriction of calorie intake to cut the fat that could give them a leaner and toned body during the competition day. Supplements like creatine are used during cutting, however, it slightly different from bulk. It is important to always consult your sports physician first to know more about the proper supplementation and training that suits your body preferences.
Here are 2 main reasons why creatine supplement is perfect while cutting.
- Reason #1: Creatine supplements can help you gain more muscle density while losing fat.
If your goal is to burn fats, it is advisable to make a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you consume daily. With this, you can stimulate your body to remove and tap into its excess fat stores for energy. However, it is important to remember the natural part of the process is that calorie deficit can also cause a of lean muscle tissue loss.
The primary goal of cutting phase is to maximize the amount of body fat burned in the body while minimizing the amount of damaged or lost muscle tissues as well. Creatine supplement can help you with that by maximizing your overall power output and improving the efficiency of the body’s energy usage.
Creatine also more of the muscle strength and leanness during the cutting phase and optimizes your resting metabolic rate as well. Your muscle is metabolically active tissue which burns up calories on its own and that means, the bigger the muscle mass you carry, the more fat you will definitely burn during or/and after every training sessions and while you’re resting as well.
- Reason #2: Creatine while cutting will increase the muscle cell volume and density.
As mentioned earlier, the cell hydration is one of the unique abilities of creatine. By drawing more water into the muscle cells, the overall size and fullness of your muscles will be maintained during the cutting phase. As you reduce the consumption of calories in your body, your overall carbohydrate intake will naturally and can contribute to the flatter appearance due to the depletion of the glycogen levels.
Muscle thickness during cutting only by taking creatine but it can also increase the anabolic state of the muscle tissues as the composition of muscle about 70% water.
The bloating and puffiness phenomena might not be true since the hydration is basically done in the intra-cellular and not stored beneath the skin.
Do you need to load Creatine?
Loading creatine supplements before and after workouts is not necessary but it might help you see the results faster. You can get the creatine’s full benefits by saturating your muscle cells with it specifically 5 grams and it may take up to 30 days. However, it will depend on your body’s lean mass. Loading creatine dosage with 15-25 grams each day for 5 days can cause quick saturation in your muscle cells. It is advisable to take 3-5 grams of creatine dosage to for your creatine level maintenance.
Why take creatine after workouts on cutting phase?
During the cutting phase, it can be difficult and challenge to retain and build leaner muscles. But to solve this, some athletes use creatine as a post-workout supplement to help them retain and build lean muscle mass. Fitness professionals and sports nutritionists recommend you to take a dosage of creatine immediately after every training sessions with fruit juices or starches.
What are the precautions of Creatine?
The creatine supplement is safe to consume only if it prescribes and dosed at the recommended dosage. A high dose can affect the liver, heart or kidneys. However, further research and studies are still needed to prove it. Possible side effects may also include stomach pain, nausea, muscle cramping, and diarrhea.
It is strongly not advisable to add creatine in the regimen especially with the individuals who are suffering from kidney diseases, diabetes, and anyone taking blood sugar supplements. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, the safety of creatine supplements are still not confirmed but it is advised to avoid it during this time.
Medical professionals also advise caution for people with deep vein thrombosis, irregular heartbeat, migraines, bipolar disorder, gastrointestinal disorders, electrolyte disorders, kidney stones, liver diseases, and low blood pressure when standing up or anemia.
Since creatine supplements have only been recently introduced to the market, it might be difficult to determine whether or not there will be a long or short-term health risks from its dose. So like I said before, more research and studies are still needed to prove that shows creatine has any dangerous side effects?
Creatine supplements can be taken before and after workout whether it’s for cutting or weight gain. This supplement can be very beneficial for achieving a leaner and toned body, enhancing the muscle growth, and boosting overall performances as well.
Creatine may also offer side effects, so we strongly advised to always consult and talk to your doctor or more preferably your fitness nutritionist before adding creatine to your regimen to help you choose the suited creatine form to use for better and faster muscle,strength, power, and density. Also, it’s advisable to go to a professional that specializes in this field.