Everything You Need To Know: Creatine

While many of the dietary supplements used by bodybuilders have been around awhile, creatine is a rather more recent discovery. Normally found in red meat, creatine has been in use as a dietary supplement for a little over a decade. During that time, it has been shown to be one of the most safe and effective supplements available for enhancing a bodybuilder’s workout. Creatine improves the body’s physiological response to working out, while simultaneously increasing the energy and endurance of the person who takes it, allowing you to work out for longer and lift more weight.

The most versatile, most easily digestible, and tastiest form of creatine is found in the form of creatine monohydrate. It can be extremely effective when taken either before or after a workout. When taken before, it can increase endurance, energy, and lifting power. When taken after, it allows you to recover more quickly from your workout, so you feel better sooner.

Benefits

Creatine is a relative newcomer on the workout supplement scene, but its benefits are nothing short of amazing. Used correctly, creatine provides your muscles with a burst of energy that allows you to sprint harder, lift more weight, and do more reps. More reps and more weight, of course, means greater muscle growth.

The way creatine works is a little complex, and there are actually several distinct ways that a creatine supplement benefits you as you work out.

To start with, creatine helps your body replenish its store of adenosine triphosphate. Adenosine triphosphate is the basic fuel that your body uses to power your muscles. Specifically, adenosine triphosphate powers your muscles’ contractions. When your body runs out of it, you run out of lifting power, plain and simple. Creatine can boost your supply of adenosine triphosphate, allowing you to lift for longer.

Secondly, creatine increases your body’s capacity to store glycogen. When the body breaks down certain sugars, it stores them as glycogen in your muscles, liver, and other places. When those stores are full, though the rest is converted to fat. Creatine allows your body to store more glycogen. Since glycogen is the fuel your body burns when you exercise, more glycogen means more fuel for your workout, which means more time spent working out. Also, glycogen is used by the muscles to help them rebuild following a workout, which means a faster recovery.

Third, creatine supplements can make up for shortfalls in your diet, especially if you are a vegetarian. The primary source of creatine in most diets is meat – red meat in particular. So if your diet includes a lot of steaks and burgers, then the odds are that your creatine intake is pretty good. If, on the other hand, you don’t eat meat at all, then a creatine supplement can make up for the deficit. Additionally, since the normal source of glycogen is carbohydrates, taking a creatine supplement can reduce the need to load up on carbohydrates before exercising, thus reducing the amount of various sugars released when carbs are digested in your body.

Fourth, creatine can provide a major boost to your endurance during cardiovascular exercise. While creatine is not ideally suited to increasing long-term endurance – it will not help as much if you’re going to run a marathon, for example – it can provide greatly increased energy for short bursts of activity, including sprinting and aerobics.

Finally, creatine also carries a benefit that is largely cosmetic. The effects of a creatine-boosted workout are usually highly visible. Specifically, creatine increases the amount of water retained by your muscles. That means that you will be able to see your muscles increase in size (as well as strength) more easily than you would otherwise be able to do.

It’s worth noting, however, that not everyone responds to creatine. Some people have a genetic predisposition that prevents creatine from working the same for them as it does for most people. If you are one of those people, you should be able to see it fairly quickly, as you will not experience the increased endurance and power that usually accompany creatine use.

Side Effects

When used properly, creatine is extremely safe. Indeed, it is one of the safest supplements a bodybuilder can take. That said, it can cause some problems with combined with certain preexisting conditions. Specifically, those with kidney problems could experience some negative effects. When the body breaks down creatine, it creates creatinine. This is normally not a problem, as the kidneys simply flush the creatinine in much the same way as they flush everything else. Eliminating creatinine, though, is a bit more taxing on the kidneys, which means that if you already have unhealthy kidneys, taking creatine could be detrimental.

Additionally, there is some anecdotal evidence for certain side effects. Some people who use creatine regularly have reported an increase in muscle cramps, a higher likelihood of pulled muscles, and dehydration. Clinical trials, however, have found little to no evidence of such side effects, which means that if they exist, they are exceedingly rare. In fact, the studies that have been conducted found no substantial difference in the occurrence of the alleged side effects in the experimental group (those using creatine) versus the control group (those not using creatine).

That said, there has been little to no research done on the use of creatine by children – i.e., those under 18 years of age. That being the case, it is probably best that the younger set avoid using creatine supplements until they are older. Additionally, there has been little research done on the effects of creatine on women who are pregnant or nursing children. While found in small quantities in cow’s milk, human breast milk contains very little creatine. That being the case, it is probably safer for pregnant women and nursing mothers to avoid creatine.

Ingredients

Creatine Monohydrate is made with nothing but pure, 100% creatine monohydrate. There are no substances of any kind added, nor has anything been taken away. The only thing added to Creatine Monohydrate is whatever liquid you choose to mix with it to make your supplement drink.

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