I remember when I first got into lifting – after a few months I was looking for ways to build on my sick gains and after very little talking and researching, coming across creatine. I remember being told by parents and friends – don’t take creatine, it’s basically a steroid! It will damage your liver and kidneys! It doesn’t work anyway!
What is creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring nitrogenous organic acid, found mainly in the skeletal muscle of vertebrae and fish. The human body biosynthesizes small amounts of creatine in the kidneys and liver, but around half the total creatine in the body is derived directly from food sources (mainly from meat).
What does it do?
Contrary to popular belief, creatine does not build muscle – but does increase water retention in muscles, which is why you gain weight and may appear bigger while supplementing with it.
Creatine is taken up by tissues with high energy demands, to help provide extra energy (ATP) during intense periods of neuromuscular activity – supplementation can help you to lift more, sprint faster and jump higher. More in depth; during periods of low activity, creatine is taken up by the tissue and phosphorylated to creatine phosphorate via creatine kinase (this requires ATP/energy, which is why this occurs during periods of low activity). During periods of intense neuromuscular activity (2-7 seconds), it anaerobically (without oxygen) donates a phosphate group to ADP to form ATP/energy (via creatine kinase), providing the muscles with more energy/ATP than it would be able to synthesize otherwise.
Supplementation with creatine is also shown to decrease myostatin levels, increase dihydro/testosterone and IGF-1 levels when combined with weight lifting (it is also shown to increase cognitive function when supplemented in vegeterians/vegans).
Is creatine safe?
Creatine has no proven side effects – but there are theories that it could lead to renal dysfunction (although the same has been said for high protein diets, which has been disproved), although those with renal dysfunction should avoid it if they fear it will exaggerate their condition. It is also approved by the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) so is legal to take while competing in professional (and amateur) sport.
Who should supplement with creatine?
Weightliters, bodybuilders and recreational gym goers who are looking to improve their heavy lifting. Sportsmen and sportswomen looking to add more explosive power to their performance – whether a javelin thrower, 100m sprinter, or a 10k runner (to improve a sprint finish). Vegetarians and vegans, as their diet is often far lower in creatine comparatively to meat eaters.
What is the most effective way to supplement with it?
The most effective (and cost effective) way to supplement with creatine is to use a creatine monohydrate supplement. There is no need to perform a loading phase as creatine monohydrate achieves 100% saturation when supplemented at 3-5g a day (a loading phase achieves this faster, but may lead to bloating and wasted money). We suggest taking 3-5g post workout on training days, or 3-5g with breakfast on non-training days.
We supplement with creatine year round, breaking when on holiday!
Which creatine supplements do we advocate?
We only use creatine monohydrate in the form of creapure to supplement. It is good value and shown to be completely effective. Supplement companies may claim their expensive new creatine supplement or creatine mix achieves greater muscle saturation or increases in strength – but the reality is nothing out there beats the effectiveness and value for money creatine monohydrate provide.