Everything you need to know about creatine
Creatine is an amino acid often used by sprinters and bodybuilders to help improve performance, muscle growth and strength. Creatine can be found in meat and fish (these are also protein-rich foods; read our post here to find out how much protein you should be eating), but because most of the Creatine is lost during cooking, many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts take it as a supplement. It’s become one of the most popular fitness supplements in the industry.
Available in powder or capsule form, it helps supply the body’s muscles and cells with energy. With extra energy you’ll be able to train harder, completing more reps, lifting heavier weights, and recovering faster. If you start taking a Creatine supplement you’ll feel the benefits and soon notice results in your muscle mass.
How it works
Creatine improves the efficiency of protein synthesis, which is essential for training to be effective. During the protein synthesis process, the muscle tissue and cells that are damaged during training are repaired and replaced. This recovery is essential so the muscles can adapt, becoming stronger, so you can train harder.
Who will benefit from taking Creatine?
If you’re a body builder, or are involved in explosive sports such as sprinting, then Creatine is definitely a supplement worth taking. It can make a big difference to strength and performance. If you’re new to the gym, and want to gain more muscle then Creatine can help. If endurance sports are more your thing, research suggests that Creatine may not be the most useful supplement. It’s more for athletes wanting to improve power and strength performance.
The controversy of Creatine
Marketing claims that Creatine increases muscle mass mean it’s a supplement surrounded by controversy. The issue of weight gain seems to be right at the centre of this controversy. Although research shows that people who take Creatine do gain weight, much more research is needed to find out how much the increase in weight is caused by the increase in muscle mass.
Getting the dosage right
Approximately 20 to 30 grams per day will help athletes improve their performance level. Take this in four to five equal doses every day for five to seven days. This is known as the loading phase.
How to take Creatine
The powder form of Creatine, which is mixed with water, tends to be most popular with athletes. To get the best results take Creatine straight after a workout. Your body will need to replace the Creatine lost during the workout, as well as repairing the damage to the muscle tissues. Taking the supplement with carbohydrates (bread, pasta, or rice etc.) will help your body to absorb the Creatine, getting it into the bloodstream much quicker.
While you’re taking Creatine, increase the amount of water you drink. Make sure you keep hydrated throughout the day – before, during and after a workout. This will help maintain the balance of water and electrolytes in the body. As ever, eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
You don’t have to limit Creatine to the bulking or cutting phases of training. The only important thing to remember is that after eight weeks of taking Creatine, you should give your body a rest from it for about a week. Apart from that, it’s a supplement that can be used throughout the training cycle, whatever your goals.