If you enjoy bodybuilding, and health and fitness in general for that matter, you will almost certainly have heard about the wonders of creatine supplementation. Creatine supplements are incredibly popular in the health and fitness world, and rightfully so. Creatine is the second most popular supplement in the world, with whey protein dominating at the number one spot. A vast number of bodybuilders and athletes rely heavily on creatine supplements and consider them a staple ingredient in their supplement stacks. Whether you are trying to build muscle, burn fat, improve your endurance, become stronger, or anything else for that matter, if used correctly, creatine supplements can prove worth their weight in gold. You may have heard about creatine supplements, but do you know what they are, and how they work? Here’s a look at a few interesting and unique facts about creatine.
Creatine makes you look bigger
If you’ve heard people talking about how creatine makes them look bigger and stronger, they aren’t talking rubbish, it really does work. However, creatine does not make them look bigger and stronger purely because it increases muscle mass, it makes people look bigger because it draws water into the muscle cells. This additional fluid not only provides energy and electrolytes, it also causes the cells to swell up and increase in mass. The larger the muscle cells become, the larger and fuller the muscles look as a result. However, if you stop taking creatine, eventually this excess water will be used up and the cells will begin to shrink down to their regular size.
Creatine can be dangerous
If people try to tell you that creatine is a steroid, you should instantly ignore the rest of what they are saying as they clearly have no clue. Creatine is an amino acid and is actually produced in our own bodies – albeit in much smaller dosages than those found in supplements. Creatine is about as far removed from being a steroid as you can get, but that does not mean that it is not dangerous if it is misused. Ideally you should consume no more than 5g of creatine per day, so you should never be tempted to increase the dosage. A lot of people seem to think that taking two scoops instead of one will speed up the results and make it even more potent and powerful, but this is not true. Creatine if overdosed, can put a lot of strain on your kidneys and liver, as they try to filter out the excess amounts that the body has not been able to use. This is obviously very dangerous so make sure you stick to the recommended daily intakes.
Creatine is not just for bodybuilders
Whilst creatine is indeed very beneficial for people looking to increase their lean muscle mass, it is by no means exclusive for bodybuilders. There are many athletes out there who have no interest in building muscle at all, who benefit from using creatine supplements due to the increases in energy it provides. Creatine functions by increasing adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) in the body, which is a source of energy used by the muscles. This increase in energy is ideal for athletes and sportspersons as it helps to increase their stamina and endurance, and helps ward off lactic acid build-ups and fatigue. For bodybuilding purposes, creatine is very effective but it is by no means exclusive to bodybuilders as there are people out there who have rarely picked up a dumbbell in their lives who benefit from using creatine on a daily basis.
Creatine with a simple sugar is effective
When you purchase creatine supplements, if you read the packaging you will often find that it recommends consuming creatine with water, or with the fruit juice of your choosing. The reason for this is that the simple sugars cause sudden increases in insulin being secreted by the pancreas. This spike in insulin helps to transport creatine and sugars in the bloodstream, into the muscles much faster, and in much higher dosages. In theory, taking creatine with fruit juice is done for the same reasons as people taking whey protein after training with a simple sugar, as it forces more of the supplement into the muscles at a much faster rate. The quicker it is absorbed, and the more that is absorbed, the more effective it will become.
You cannot get enough creatine from food for athletic benefits
As well as synthesizing creatine internally, we can also get creatine from whole food sources, including red meat. However, contrary to popular belief, no matter how much red meat you consumed, you would still not be taking in enough creatine in order for it to provide you with any athletic benefits. One reason why getting enough creatine from red meat is virtually impossible is because the cooking process will destroy some of the creatine. And no, this does not mean you should eat heaps of raw red meat either, as you still wouldn’t get enough.
Creatine may not be for you
Some of you that are reading this who have used creatine before will know just how effective creatine can be, and you will instantly understand why it’s the second most popular supplement in the world. Others who have used it however, may have seen virtually no benefits from using it at all, and you may not be able to see what all the fuss is about. The take home message here is that different people respond to creatine in different ways. Some find it provides incredible results, whilst others notice no difference at all. Those who see or feel no results at all are known as creatine non-responders, and if this applies to you, unfortunately creatine may not be for you and you may wish to look into alternative supplements instead.