Not just the reserve of bodybuilding hunks, creatine monohydrate tablets or powders are a great all-round supplement for everyone, male and female, taking training even semi-seriously. But why? And what are they?
Please, let me oblige…
Creatine monohydrate (let’s drop the formalities now and call it creatine, as creatine monohydrate is a bit of a mouthful… that said, creatine monohydrate is considered the purest form, over other types such as creatine phosphate) allows you to train harder. It does this by increasing your ability to produce energy. This means that working out, whatever that means for you, is more efficient.
Creatine is the most used, trusted and researched sports nutrition supplement. And don’t be put off by it. It doesn’t mean that you’ll turn into a walking chunk of muscle, and as I’m here to cut through the confusion, let’s look at what taking creatine does mean…
Creatine Increases Muscle Mass
The biggest benefit of creatine supplements is that they can help increase the speed and force at which muscles work. This means that you can lift more weight and/or complete more reps. And if you do this continually, you’ll build more lean muscle mass, and lose fat mass. It isn’t just for those lifting heavy weights, it benefits anyone using free weights or weight machines of any weight at home or in the gym. Pushing yourself that bit further by taking creatine tablets or using creatine powders will help you reach your goals more quickly.
It works by increasing the amount of ‘phosphocreatine’ in your muscles. Phosphocreatine helps the body produce ‘Adenosine Triphosphate’ or ATP which is the fuel our muscles use for energy. We can only store a limited supply of ATP in our muscles, and the rate at which we can replenish this ATP, is directly related to the rate at which we can work out. More creatine produces more phosphocreatine, which in turn creates more ATP which gives muscles more energy. More energy, more workout, more muscle.
Creatine Helps Muscle Recovery…
…but only if taken regularly and over the longer term. If taken over seven days, a study in the Journal of Sports Science Medicine found that creatine had little recordable effect on exercise induced muscle damage. However, the same study found that those taking 6 grams of creatine supplements a day for 30 days had a positive effect on muscle repair and allowed subjects to train at a higher intensity.
Creatine Also Increases Metabolic Rate
Your metabolic rate is especially important if you’re looking to lose weight. It’s linked to how many calories you burn in a day, the higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you’ll burn and, providing your diet is good, the more fat you’ll lose.
Creatine not only allows for better weight lifting and muscle building. It also allows for better high intensity sprint training, otherwise known as cardio. Increasing the amount of cardio training you do, will ultimately increase your metabolic rate. Creatine helps increase the amount of cardio you’re able to do in one session, by refuelling our muscles with our friend, ATP. If you’re on a fat loss diet, the chances are, you’re limiting the amount of carbs you’re eating. Taking creatine supplements will off-set this energy deficiency, too.
Creatine Makes Your Brain Work Better
Not content with just helping us build muscle and improve our metabolism, creatine can boost brain function too. A study published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the Royal Society’ tested their theory that “oral creatine supplementation for six weeks would enhance intelligence test scores and working memory performance in 45 young adult, vegetarian subjects in a double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over trial”. The study reported significant positive results on working memory and intelligence after testing subjects before and after the six-week trial on speed processing tasks. They concluded that the increased energy in the brain from creatine and ATP production significantly influences brain performance.
Creatine is safe and easy to take
Taking a supplement that means you have more energy, means that you have to use up this energy. If you don’t, you’re likely to gain weight. That said, taking it as instructed (after a workout usually, but each one of our recommended creatine supplements comes with dosage instructions) will mean that you’ll get more from each workout. Because creatine works. It can cause diarrhoea and bloating, but lowering your dose usually helps if you do suffer.
Sounds Great, Fit Edd! So, What About Creatine Loading and Dosage?
Creatine loading is a process by which you build up your creatine levels over a few days, and then maintain them, by taking planned doses of creatine supplements. For example, you might take 20 grams of creatine per day for five to seven days, or 10 grams a day for ten to 14 days during the creatine loading phase. You might prefer to take 5 grams a day for a month as your creatine loading phase if you do suffer with stomach problem. (A teaspoon of creatine powder is roughly five grams.) After the loading phase, its best to take 2-3 grams a day, 5 grams if you don’t eat red meat.
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