If you happen to have a special interest in sports and fitness, particularly bodybuilding or resistance based sports, there’s a good chance you’ll have heard people mentioning the importance of sports supplements. Take bodybuilding for instance. Sports supplements have proved incredibly effective and beneficial in the bodybuilding world, evident in the fact that the sports supplement industry now generates billions upon billions, every single year! As far as popular supplements go, you have the number 1 best-selling and most popular supplement: Whey protein, but it is the second most popular sports supplement in the world: Creatine Monohydrate, which along with with other forms of creatine such as Creapure, Ethyl Ester, HCL and more, we’ll be looking at here and why you should be buying creatine. Contained within we’ll be looking at what creatine is, how it works and why it’s so beneficial, and when a person should take it for optimal results.
So, what is creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid compound that is actually found naturally within certain foods including red meat and seafood. Our bodies also naturally synthesize creatine, only in very small doses, doses too small for it to have any real athletic benefit for us. Creatine works by helping to supply ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) to the cells found all over our bodies. ATP is a primary source of energy for our cells, which means the more they have, the more efficient they become. Creatine is derived from three primary amino acids: Glycine, L-Methionine, and L-Arginine. It is then transported around the body in the bloodstream, to be delivered to the various cells in our body, and is primarily used by muscles which require large amounts of energy.
How is it beneficial?
Creatine is especially beneficial for athletes and sportsmen and women looking to improve athletic performance and the performance of their muscles on the whole. Whilst creatine doesn’t directly build lean muscle, it does contribute towards increases in strength, endurance and muscle mass because it helps provide more energy for the muscles. The more energy the muscles have, the longer they can be worked before they fatigue and lactic acid begins to build up. This means you can work out and exercise for longer durations, which in turn makes work outs and training sessions more efficient.
How should it be consumed, and when is the best time?
When taking creatine for the first time, or when starting a new creatine cycle, some people say that a “loading phase” is required, in which you consume around 5x the normal dosage, for 5 days to saturate the cells within our muscles with the creatine. After the 5 days, they claim that the dosage should be reduced. Numerous studies have found however, that there has been no difference and no improvement in individuals that used a “loading phase” and in individuals that just consumed the normal dosage once per day, and as such, the loading phase could very well be a waste of time and creatine. As far as when creatine should be consumed, and how, there really is no right or wrong way. Some experts state that taking creatine pre-workout is beneficial, whilst other state that post-workout is more effective, and in reality, the results are extremely mixed. The recommended dosage of most creatine products is 1 x heaped teaspoon, to be mixed with water or fruit juice, and by going off of reports and mixed reviews and opinions, our advice would be to switch things up every few weeks and find out what works best for you.