The Beginner’s Guide to Creatine

Creatine is one of the most popular supplements taken by athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. Creatine is an amino acid which is produced by the kidneys and liver, and it has been shown to significantly increase the body’s capacity for high-intensity exercise and promote the growth of lean muscle mass. Creatine supplements are most commonly available in powdered form and they dissolve easily into water. Most creatine powders are unflavoured, but flavoured products are available. Creatine can also be taken in tablet form.

What does Creatine Do?

When creatine is produced naturally by the body or ingested as a supplement, it binds with high energy phosphate molecules. These high energy phosphates are called adenosine triphosphate (or ATP), and energy is released into the body when a phosphate breaks loose from the ATP molecule chain. This expended energy can be replenished with creatine, and this process provides more energy to the running of bodily processes and functions. This is because the phosphates act as one of the primary sources of energy for the human body, and supplementing with creatine can drastically improve this output of power. Creatine has been shown to improve muscle power, increase strength and benefit gains in lean mass.

How much Creatine Should I Take?

Those who have not taken creatine before are typically advised to start taking the supplement in a ‘loading’ phase. This involves taking a higher dosage of the supplement for a 7 to 10 day period (usually 0.3g of creatine per kilogram of bodyweight) before reducing down to a ‘maintenance’ amount of around 5g a day. The loading phase has beenshown to saturate the body’s creatine stores which can help users immediately reap the benefits of the supplement. It is also important to drink plenty of water when using creatine. Creatine can cause water retention in the body’s muscles which can cause stomach cramping, so it is important to get an adequate intake of liquids.

When Should you Take Creatine?

Creatine can be taken by anyone who is looking to improve their athletic performance or increase their lean muscle mass. During the loading phase, it is important to space out the intake of creatine throughout the day. However, during the maintenance phase there is no best time of the day to take creatine. Many users find it easy and convenient to take the supplement as part of their post workout routine. Creatine has been shown to absorb into the body more efficiently when taken with simple carbohydrates.

Check out our ‘benefits of creatine for women‘ article too!

References

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/creatine-supplements
http://examine.com/supplements/Creatine/
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/huston10.htm
http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/supplements/trainer-qa-do-i-need-to-load-creatine

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