If you have been around the muscle building world for quite some time, then you have probably heard about Creatine.
Creatine, besides being one of the most researched supplements still get a lot of controversies. Some argue that it will damage your kidneys and others claim that it can cause cancer. So, in this article, we will shed light on Creatine: what it is? How does it work? And is it safe to use?
What Is Creatine?
First, let’s start with a quick definition. Creatine is a form of stored energy found in muscle cells that help the body to produce energy during the high-intensity effort. Creatine is made inside of your body from the amino acids Glycine and Arginine.
The best natural source of Creatine is Red Meat. Also, other factors like testosterone levels and muscle mass affect the quantity of Creatine stored within your body.
How Does Creatine Work?
To understand how Creatine works you need first to understand the ATP energy system. It is not that hard trust me, I’ll try to explain it so you don’t get confused.
ATP is our bodies main source of energy. Whether you are eating high carb or high fat, in the first 10 seconds of exercise, your body will first use its ATP sources as the main source of energy alongside Creatine Phosphate.
ATP or Adenosine-Tri-Phosphate is a chemical group that is broken down by Creatine Phosphate whenever your body needs energy. After the first ATP is used, your body will replace the phosphate group to create a new ATP so you can produce more energy.
This where Creatine shines as one of the best ATP and performance supplements. Creatine will speed up the production of ATP by putting the phosphate group back on by donating its phosphate group to form a new ATP.
So, what happens essentially is that when you use Creatine, you are able to lift heavy weights for an extra 2-3 reps or to lift heavier weights in the 1-5 rep range.
The Benefits Of Creatine
As we already said, Creatine will help you to lift more reps with a certain weight and it will help you to lift heavier weights in the 1-5 rep range. So it directly boosts your gym performance. But, it is not just the performance increase and strength gains. Lifting heavy weights for more reps will results in more overall training volume and more stress on your muscle fibers. All of that will lead eventually to more muscle growth.
Another benefit of Creatine that most people don’t realize in mental performance. As it boosts its physical performance, Creatine will boost your mental focus and clarity by saturating your brain and nervous system Creatine stores. This especially essential for vegetarians. If you are a vegetarian you will naturally have low stores of Creatine in your brain and your nervous system which may lead to depression. So, for anyone who is anti-meat, they need supplemental Creatine as a necessity.
Another benefit of creatine is that it will speeds up recovery and can protect you from overtraining.
So, Creatine is more than just a performance component. It is a signaling and energy component that will help us to feel better, focus more, lift heavier weights, and grow more muscle mass. Isn’t that amazing? Hell Yeah!
Creatine dosages will range from 5-10 grams per day for Creatine Monohydrates while it can be as little as 1 gram for more altered types of Creatine like Creatine HCL. I personally like to stick to the good old Creatine Monohydrate because it is cheaper and as effective if not more effective than all those fancy new types.
So, 5-10 grams per day, taken either Pre or Post workout, preferably with simple carbs to help your body to digest them quickly. Also, you can mix them with your Whey protein shake since whey will raise insulin levels as well.
Now, what about the loading phase?
The loading phase is a huge topic of controversy on itself. A loading phase is simply a period of 5-10 days where you will consume up to 30 grams of Creatine to quickly saturate your Creatine stores and get a good kickstart. I personally like to load, I have no scientific evidence for it, but if there is a chance that it will help me gain muscle and strength safely, then I will do it.
Another important thing to remember when supplementing with Creatine is to drink enough water. This is very important to help your kidneys to properly process Creatine.
In the end, I would like to add again that Creatine is one of my favorite supplements and one of the few that might be essential if your goal is to build lean muscle mass.