Creatine is a kind of supplement used by both athletes and bodybuilders to gain and build muscle. Scientists have been aware of the role that creatine plays in building muscle since the middle of the 19th century but it only really became more mainstream during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Three gold medallists from swimming and track and field mentioned that they used creatine. After this bodybuilders and athletes discovered creatine and were eager to add it to their regimen of supplements.
Creatine is Scientifically Proven
Three Olympic athletes attributing their success to their creatine use definitely builds a good case for why you should use creatine. Though there is also scientific evidence that proves creatine works beyond these anecdotes. This is some of the scientific studies into creatine have to say.
There was a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2006. This study showed that creatine increased the resting levels of testosterone by up to 22% when it was used alongside a 10 week training regimen.
Creatine also creates one of the proteins the body uses to build muscle and slow down the effects of ageing. This protein is known as muscle insulin-like growth factor-1. There was a study done in 2008 that showed combining creatine supplements with an eight week training program increased the levels of IGF-1 by 15%.
There are also proteins that inhibit muscle growth. Proteins like Myostatin for example. There were studies performed in 2010 and 2011 showed that as well as boosting muscle growth, creatine reduced the levels of muscle inhibitors like myostatin by a large amount.
Debunking the Risks Associated with Creatine use
There have been some concerns about adverse effects associated to using creatine supplements. The main concern is the idea that creatine can damage livers and kidneys. Recent research has shown that these fears are largely unfounded however.
The European Food Safety Authority (the EFSA), for example, proved back in 2003 that taking 3 grams of creatine a day is perfectly safe. There have been other studies that show doses of between 5 and 20 grams can also be taken without worry.
Though if you do have kidney or liver problems it would be better for you to choose a different protein supplement to be safe. There are also some people who have shown allergic reactions to creatine. It causes asthma-like symptoms with them. People who suffer from these symptoms would also benefit from using a different supplement such as whey protein or casein protein.
A more common problem associated with creatine is the negative effect it can have on the digestive system. Creatine can upset your stomach in high doses as your body tries to break down the acidic molecules in it. There are different brands of creatine that you can use. If one gives you stomach problems try switching to another. You can also reduce the digestive problems associated with creatine by drinking more water.
The Different types of Creatine Supplements
There are a number of different creatine supplements out there on the market. The main ones are creatine monohydrate, micronized creatine, and creatine ethyl ester.
Creatine monohydrate is the most widely available and used kind of creatine found in supplements. Creatine monohydrate is typically roughly 99% pure creatine. This makes it not just the most pure form of creatine available, it is also the cheapest and accepted as perhaps the most effective.
Micronized creatine is another kind of creatine monohydrate but the molecules in it have been “micronized”. This means they were cut into smaller parts. When the creatine molecules are micronized it increases the surface area of them by up to 20 times. A higher surface area means that the creatine is easier to digest and absorb.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine Ethyl Ester is also known as CEE or just cre-ester is a derivative of creatine. It is converted back into creatine by the body. The manufacturers of CEE like to claim that it is digested easier than regular creatine. While it may be easier to digest a study from 2009 by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that it isn’t as effective at building muscle as creatine is. This means that CEE is the best choice for people who have trouble digesting regular creatine.
How to Ingest Creatine
You can buy creatine in powdered and liquid form, or as a capsule. Creatine powder comes with the highest rate of absorption out of the three choices. Not only does the creatine powder have the highest absorption rate it is also much easier to mix into your other bodybuilding supplements. You can easily combine it with things like whey protein or casein powder.
Bodybuilders everywhere also agree that it’s a good idea to mix your creatine with simple sugars so that it creates a spike of insulin to get the creatine into your muscles faster. A recommended way to do this is grape juice. Orange juice and apple juice are more acidic and therefore will damage the creatine and stop it being absorbed properly.
(Also read: TOP 5 BEST CREATINES 2016)
How to Properly use Creatine
A common way to use creatine is to load up on creatine for about a week before lowering to a more maintained level of the supplement. Loading is when you take in a large dose of creatine, around 20 grams a day for example. Do this for a week before lowering to between 3 and 7 grams a day mixed into whey protein shake after your workout. Another typical method of using creatine is skipping the load phase and just taking 3 to 5 grams a day on a long term basis.
When you should take creatine is up for debate. Most people who use creatine agree that you should take it 15 minutes before your workout and again 15 minutes after your workout. On the days you don’t have a workout you should take still take it first thing in the morning. Either mix it with whey protein or have it by itself.
If you don’t want to always take creatine then you can take it for 30 days to build up a good level of muscle. You can keep this level of muscle by using a good training program. If you’re worried about the damages creatine can do then only use it a few months per year to get results you can maintain.
Who can Benefit from Using Creatine?
Not everyone should take creatine. People looking to lose weight should avoid creatine as it makes you gain weight. Creatine is for people who want to build muscle. It’s for skinny men who want to put on some muscle and bulk up. If you’re a big person who wants to lose some weight then you’re better off leaving the creatine alone until you’re ready to gain muscle mass.
Creatine alone is not enough to build muscle. If you live a fairly sedentary life and don’t lift weights or exercise then you’re not going to get results from just taking in creatine. If you go to the gym a lot and have an intense workout routine you’ll see great results from using creatine.
To conclude anyone looking to gain muscle, from bodybuilders and athletes to regular people, can benefit from using creatine. When you take creatine after a workout or with your breakfast you can boost your levels of testosterone, IGF-1, and the other hormones responsible for building muscle. It’s also good to remember that when you use creatine properly it is completely safe to use and relatively easy to digest. Don’t let anyone tell you that creatine is bad for you.
Perhaps the best place to buy creatine would be Bauer Nutrition and Amazon. They offer lower prices than your local supplement store would and the higher number of sellers leads to a higher number of options so you can find the right and the best creatine supplement for you.