Creatine 101

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What is Creatine?

Creatine is a substance that is naturally found in your body and in various meat sources, including beef and pork. While your body initially uses ATP (adenosine triphosphate) as an energy source, there is only enough to last about 10 seconds of intense muscular activity. Creatine provides an extra reservoir of ATP that allows our muscles to continue working, ultimately increasing your strength and recovery capabilities.

What are the main effects of creatine?

As mentioned above, creatine provides extra energy for muscles, allowing you to lift more weight than you normally would. Creatine also increases the volume of the muscles by drawing water into them via osmosis. This increase in volume gives your muscles an appearance of being larger and more bloated than normal. For this reason, some people who are trying to become more defined avoid creatine. Lastly, creatine also prevents, to a certain degree, buildup of lactic acid, which will allow you to exercise for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued.

What kind of creatine should I buy?

Creatine monohydrate, plain and simple. Throughout the years, supplement companies have released many alternative forms of creatine, such as creatine ethyl ester, Kre-Alkalyn, and creatine nitrate. Many of these products are quite expensive and have no significant benefits that creatine monohydrate does not offer.

What is the recommended dosage of creatine?

Following an optional loading phase of about 15-20 grams per day for a week, the recommended dosage of creatine is to take 5 grams daily. To speed up the process of muscle saturation, a loading phase is recommended. The loading phase is split into 3 doses of 5 grams taken separately throughout the day, for 7 days. Then, the “maintenance” dose of 5 grams/day is consumed to sustain the elevated concentration of creatine in your body. It does not matter when creatine is taken; there are no benefits to consuming creatine pre- or post-workout. The substance has no short-term effects. Creatine levels must build up in muscles before the user notices its effects.

Are there any negative effects of taking creatine?

Creatine is one of the most studied supplement in the world; over 500 studies have been published analyzing the effects and safety of creatine. Overwhelming evidence states that there are no negative short- or long-term effects to consuming 5 grams of creatine on a daily basis. As long as you are drinking at least 2 liters of water a day, you should have no problems with the product. If you become dehydrated while taking creatine, you may experience muscle cramps. However, they are not serious and can be easily alleviated by drinking more fluids.

Should I take creatine?

Creatine is for serious lifters who want to take their weight lifting to the next level. I personally recommend creatine, as it is one of the cheapest and most effective supplements on the market today. Creatine is not necessary for casual lifters or runners/joggers. As with all supplements, creatine is not necessary to achieve results in the gym.

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