Creatine is the best supplement for improving performance in the gym. Studies show that it has a positive impact on strength, muscle mass, exercise performance as well as numerous other health benefits.
This article will explain everything you need to know about creatine, the most popular sports supplement in the world.
What is creatine?
Creatine can naturally be found in muscle cells. It helps your muscles to produce energy in high-intensity exercises such as weight lifting. It’s a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders, as it has been shown to have a positive effect on muscle gains and strength.
Your body is able to produce creatine itself but things such as meat, exercise, muscle mass, and hormone levels will have an impact on the creatine stores.
95% of the creatine in the body is stored as phosphocreatine. When you use the supplement, your phosphocreatine stores will be raised. This will in return help your body produce more ATP, also called the body’s energy currency. The more ATP your body has, the better it will be able to perform during explosive exercises.
Is it safe?
Creatine is one of the most tested supplements out there and the side effects are almost non-existent. At least if you drink enough water and don’t take excessive amounts.
The most common side effect is a weight gain due to water retention but nausea, diarrhea and an upset stomach aren’t uncommon either. If you want to stay safe, drink enough water and make sure that you don’t exceed the recommended dosage. More isn’t always better, especially not with creatine.
The benefits of creatine
Creatine is one of the most popular supplements and with good reason. While It’s mostly being used for its ability to increase muscle growth and strength we’re seeing even more benefits from the popular supplement. A better endurance for the skeletal muscles as well as numerous other health benefits. Most of them are similar to the ones we see when we start working out.
What type of creatine is the best?
The best type is creatine monohydrate as it is the one used in most studies. Because of this, most of the benefits connected to the use of the popular sports supplement, have been observed while using creatine monohydrate.
But are other types of creatine useless? Absolutely not. Different types will have different benefits. There’s plenty of good options out there but nothing has been proved to be more effective than creatine monohydrate.
The recommended dosage
The recommended daily dosage of creatine for people who work out regularly is 5g. Less athletic people can maintain on 3g daily.
Some people might think that taking more creatine than recommended will give better results. That’s not true. Here are 2 reasons why.
- Once you reach a certain amount of creatine the body’s stores will be full and everything extra you take will be wasted
- If you exceed the recommended daily dose of creatine, the risk of annoying side effects, such as weight gain, diarrhea, nausea, and an upset stomach will increase.
Do I need to have a loading phase?
Having a loading phase when starting creatine will speed up the process of filling your body’s stores quicker and gives results after 6-7 days. Keep in mind that having a loading phase increases the risk of side effects. Take a 5g dose, 4 times a day, for the first 6-7 days, before you go to the maintenance dosage of 5g daily.
The loading phase isn’t necessary but it will let you enjoy the benefits of creatine faster than without it.
Do I need to cycle creatine?
You don’t need to cycle creatine. Usually, you’re cycling products because your body will create a tolerance for them. This does not happen with creatine.
It doesn’t act upon any receptors and there’s no such thing as creatine sensitivity. Because of this, you don’t need to do cycles.
Does creatine make you fat?
It’s quite common to gain some weight while using creatine. But is it because it makes you fat?
Gaining fat is always about calories in Vs calories. As creatine has 0 calories per serving it won’t make you fat. If you have gained fat anyway, you might want to calculate your BMR, your activities, and how much you eat to find the problem instead.
But if it’s not fat, why have I gained weight? The most common reason why you’ve gained weight is due to water retention. Make sure you keep going to the gym, drink enough water and it will be gone or at least less noticeable in no time.
Does creatine cause hair loss?
The question “does creatine cause hair loss?” is often up for debate but with no real answers. Creatine might be a part of increasing DHT, an androgen that contributes to the male sex characteristics. DHT can help us increase our muscle mass but also increase the risk of prostate cancer and speed up the process of balding for people with an already high hairline.
But you shouldn’t worry too much about this, at least not yet. The connection between balding and creatine haven’t been studied yet. In conclusion, it can’t be proved that creatine causes hair loss.
Creatine, when to take it
Creatine is stored in the muscles and unlike supplements such as pre-workout, you won’t have to time it perfectly to get the full effect.
Studies have shown but not proved, that creatine could have a better effect when taken with a meal than fasted.
What happens if I go off creatine?
When you stop taking creatine, it could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to more than a month until the body’s creatine levels will go back to normal. The time it takes depends on how much you exercise and how much creatine was stored in the muscles before.
While supplementing with creatine, the body’s own production will slow down but already a day or two after stopping the supplement, the body’s own production should be back to normal. There shouldn’t be any noticeable down period at all.