So what exactly is this Creatine powder that I heard some guy in the gym talking about after every set of Bench Press he’s smashing lol
Well fear not folks we aim to break this down once and for all to help you understand what it is and why you should be using it (and to be honest you should be using it!)
So let’s start with what it is?
Well, it is already naturally occurring in our bodies, produced in the kidneys and liver but stored predominantly in our muscles.
What does it do?
From a sciency perspective, it’s main job is to help create Creatine Phosphate (PCr) which is important as this is heavily involved in the production of energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). As long as we have sufficient levels of Creatine Phosphate in our cells we can maintain energy output. The issues begin when we start to use our muscles intensely, as the levels of Creatine Phosphate can be exhausted very quickly! On average we have somewhere around 8-10 seconds of maximal contractions with the levels of Creatine Phosphate stored in our cells.
Ok so why use it?
Well it makes sense that if we have more Creatine Phosphate in our systems before we begin working out then we can have slightly more elevated muscular output or performance! Izguierdo et al. (2002) found that it had the biggest erogenic effect in repeated high-intensity efforts with short recovery. Similarily Cramer et al. (2007) found that Isometric strength improved after only a few days of use.
Other benefits from a fitness and training perspective:
- Improved training quality and strength gains – Rawson et al. (2006)
- Improved recovery – Cottrell et al. (2002)
- Amplified training induced adaptions – Olsen et al (2006)
- Increased muscular endurance – Chwalbinska-Moneta (2003)
- Increased time to exhaustion
- Increased glycogen storage – Nelson et al. (2001)
Ok so the evidence is mounting up here, anything else?
Well yes, actually there is! Other benefits that are starting to emerge:
- Improved cognitive function – Rae et al (2007)
- Significant improvement in working memory
- Vegetarians showed increases in lean tissue and performance – Burke et al. (2003)
- supplementation showed additional storage capabilities of creatine Phosphate
- Sleep deprivation – McMorris et al. (2006)
- Significantly less decline in performance output after a bout of sleep deprivation
Ok is it safe to use?
Yes totally safe. As mentioned it is one of the most researched supplements out there and whilst non-responders do exist, most people will so positive improvements from its use. From a side effect perspective, some people do experience stomach cramps but this can sometimes be down to the timing (on an empty stomach etc). Weight gain from increasing glycogen storage is another perceived side effect so understand that might happen.
Kreider et al. (2017) ISSN
Ok, I’m in, how do I start using Creatine?
Cool. So the first thing to note is it’s found in red meat, dairy and fish so if you have a diet high in those foods chances are you’ll already be getting a decent amount. That being said, to try and cover yourself supplementation is a great tool to have.
When buying in the shops go for Creatine Monohydrate. There are others but this form is proven to work and almost all the research is on this type so go with that.
Somewhere between 3-5g per day should be more than enough for the general population. Increased intake may be beneficial for performance athletes around 5-8g per day. The best time to take it would be after training with food or possibly in your whey shake if you take one.