Creatine is a naturally occurring source of energy for our muscles. It is not a steroid and does not directly affect a user's testosterone levels. About 95% of the creatine in our bodies is stored in skeletal muscles, but small amounts are also found in the heart, brain, and other tissues. The average omnivore loses around 1-3 g of creatine every day, which is replenished through the ingestion of creatine-rich foods such as meat, dairy products and fish, as we make creatine from the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine.
Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have shown that creatine is well tolerated as a dietary supplement. In February 2021, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition debunked many of the side effects attributed to creatine over the years, such as dehydration and kidney damage, so now may be a good time to give the supplement a new look.
How does creatine supplementation improve performance?
According to Shannon O'Grady, Ph.D., ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the body's energy currency and this creatine helps us make ATP quickly.
Creatine is stored in our muscles as phosphocreatine (Ph-creatine), which creates a kind of energy storage molecule. When we need to work or exercise, phosphocreatine donates its phosphate to ADP (adenosine diphosphate) to quickly make ATP, and therefore creatine helps with strength and vigor.
Additionally, "Creatine is a natural intramuscular buffer," says O'Grady, who is also COO at Gnarly Nutrition. “That means it slows down the acidity increase in our muscles that occurs when we tap into anaerobic glycolysis. This increase in acidity has been linked to muscle fatigue and failure, so creatine supplementation also helps with endurance. "
Creatine and explosive power
Creatine is ideal for activities that require repeated blasts of explosive, maximum strength, so those who enjoy high-intensity workouts can benefit from its supplement. The average creatine level of the average omnivore can produce ATP for 5 to 10 seconds, while a person who has replenished and saturated their creatine stores can increase the duration of ATP production to around 8 to 12 seconds.
"That may not sound like much, but research has shown that this increase in ATP reduction leads to a 10 to 20 percent increase in several measures of high-intensity training," says O’Grady. “I'm 43 and I weigh 130 pounds. Creatine supplementation with weight training helped me get my squats from 200 to 225 pounds in four weeks. "
The optimal dosage
The goal of creatine supplementation has always been to completely saturate your muscular creatine stores. "Loading" is the expedited way to do this. Loading requires you to take high doses of creatine (0.3 g creatine per pound of body mass per day) for five to seven days, then reduce to a maintenance dose of 3 to 5 g per day. "With this protocol you would see the first results in a week or two," says O’Grady. “You don't have to recharge to benefit from creatine, but it will take longer to fully enjoy these benefits if you don't. If you start your creatine supplementation with this amount each day, it will take over four weeks to see the same benefits in one to two weeks with the loading phase. The decision to load or not to load really depends on how quickly you want to see results. Incidentally, I didn't load when I added and added 25 pounds to my squats. "
But is creatine vegan friendly?
Creatine products can be vegan-friendly as many are synthesized from non-animal raw materials. "Vegans can actually benefit more from creatine supplementation than people who consume animal material, as their baseline levels tend to be lower due to the lack of creatine-containing foods in their diet," says O'Grady.
Is creatine the same?
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine. There is some evidence that creatine ethyl ester is better absorbed by the body, but the jury has not yet decided as a study suggests that CEE does not produce higher creatine storage than the monohydrate. Creapure Creatine Monohydrate is now the best-studied form of creatine on the market and is regularly tested for prohibited substances. By using only products from the Cologne List such as Creapure, athletes reduce the risk of unwanted doping. Creapure is vegan, kosher and halal certified and its production is IFS Food certified, a quality standard recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative.
Does Creatine Increase Water Retention?
Creatine is stored with water, much like glycogen, so an increase in the body's creatine stores is likely to lead to an increase in water retention. However, a paper published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition states that this can be short-term and that creatine does not change total body water with prolonged use.
Creatine and Aging
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"Muscle loss is a natural part of aging, with some studies suggesting that after the age of 30 we lose between 3% and 5% of muscle mass per decade," says O'Grady. “A decrease in muscle mass affects mobility and strength, but research has also shown a direct link between loss of muscle mass and osteoporosis.
“Age-related muscle breakdown is attributed in part to the shift in what is known as the“ anabolic threshold for protein, ”or the amount of protein needed in the diet to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Increasing protein intake and weight training are two ways to combat this, but creatine supplementation works well as it doubles the beneficial effects weight training can have on muscle mass. More muscles mean stronger bones and better mobility. "
Because muscle breakdown plays a role in many ailments, creatine can play a role in the treatment of conditions such as spinal injuries and arthritic diseases. And regardless of our state of health, creatine is great for post-workout recovery, as it reduces inflammatory compounds and reduces delayed onset of muscle soreness. w that you've stood the test of time yourself, now may be the time to top up your creatine.