Creatine Monohydrate is the most effective performance-enhancing supplement for those who want to improve their capacity for high-intensity exercise or increase their lean body mass. But what does creatine really do?
The purpose of taking creatine monohydrate supplements is to help you improve your workout performance so you can see better results over time. This is especially beneficial for athletes who need to continuously improve their muscular strength and endurance. There is no debate about the safety of CS, and it actually has benefits for people of all ages who are otherwise healthy.
WHAT IS CREATINE, HOW MUCH IS NATURALLY IN THE BODY, AND WHY WOULD I SUPPLEMENT?
Creatine is a substance that is naturally present in your muscles. It helps to produce energy during exercise. The body uses glycine and arginine to manufacture creatine. Creatine shares many qualities with amino acids. The majority of the protein is found in the muscles, but a small percentage is also present in the brain, kidneys, and liver.
The creatine stored within the muscles is phosphocreatine. ATP, or cellular energy, is produced with the help of phosphocreatine, which is a form of stored energy. The more ATP that is in the cells of the body, the better the performance will be during exercise.
Creatine affects several cellular processes, which leads to an increase in muscle mass, strength, and better recovery.
The body produces creatine from the amino acids methionine, glycine, and arginine (folate and vitamin B 12 are also catalysts), with most residing in skeletal muscle (SM) where about one-third exists as creatine (Cr) and two-thirds as phosphocreatine (PCR).
An average 150lb male has a creatine pool of approximately 120-140gms. Typically, humans manufacture about one gram/day of Cr, obtain one gram from food (muscle meats contain ~300-500 mg per 100gm serving), and loses about two grams per day. Therefore, under normal circumstances, creatine levels are fairly constant.
Creatine phosphate provides an immediate energy source for the brain and muscles. The rationale for supplementation is to increase the metabolic capacity of these target tissues, such as the capability of a muscle to contract more powerfully for a longer period of time and to heal faster.
The goal of CS is to help people build muscle and recover from exercise faster than they could with just diet alone. CS consumption has been shown to increase creatine content in the brain by 9%.
Increasing the body’s natural chromium content through chromium supplementation improves energy production, which leads to improved activity outcomes in the short and long term.
HOW DOES CREATINE WORK?
Creatine does its work within the muscles by:
- Providing cellular energy to allow for intensified training.
- Increasing the satellite signaling between cells.
- Raising levels of anabolic hormones.
- Pulling water into the muscle cells.
- Preventing muscle waste due to exercise.
- Lowering myostatin levels within the body (a protein that can slow or prevent muscle growth).
Creatine consumption also leads to an increase in phosphocreatine levels in the brain, which can impact brain health in a positive way.
WHERE DO WE GET CREATINE?
It is found in animal products like:
- red meat
- white meat
If you don’t eat any foods that contain creatine or follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, you can use creatine supplements to make sure your muscles have enough of this substance.
ARE CREATINE SUPPLEMENTS AS EFFECTIVE AS FOOD SOURCES?
It is always best to consume nutrients from whole foods whenever possible. You’ve probably heard it said many times that supplements are only meant to supplement your diet, not be your main source of nutrition. This might make you wonder if supplements are as effective as the food they are based on or if they work at all.
If you are wondering whether or not creatine supplements offer the same benefits as eating a steak, the answer is yes. The only time you would notice a change from taking a supplement is if you don’t regularly eat foods that contain that nutrient. If your reserves are already topped off, then supplementing will not be of any benefit to you.
If you’re not sure, you’re getting enough creatine from your diet, taking a supplement is a cost-effective way to get it.
ARE CREATINE SUPPLEMENTS SAFE?
There is a lot of misinformation out there about creatine supplements and their safety. People are concerned that long-term use of the drug may damage their liver or kidneys.
Creatine supplements are popular and effective and have been well-researched. The current research proves:
- It does not damage the heart, kidneys, liver, or skeletal muscles.
- It is safe, even for those with kidney disorders, as long as the disorder is not characterized by edema and swelling.
- Those with polycystic kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, or any other kidney disorder that causes tissue swelling should avoid it.
CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION SAFETY
The safety of using CS in both short and long-term intervals has been set in stone with proper dosing to be administered. CS has been clinically shown to be safe and effective for healthy adults when taken as directed for 25 years. There have been fewer studies on the safety and efficacy of CS in youth and adolescents, but the available evidence shows that CS is safe and effective for this age group.
Creatine and Creatinine and urine/blood tests. Creatinine is produced naturally in the body as a result of the metabolism of creatine. A diet high in animal protein, the use of creatine supplements, or vigorous exercise can all lead to an increase in creatinine levels, which is considered normal and harmless.
Therefore, experts advise exercisers to not train or train the day lightly before a blood/urine test and CS users to cease supplementation 4 days before the tests to avoid a potential “false positive” reading and that healthy individuals may resume usage at any time following testing. Studies on CS, renal function, and safety have concluded that while Cr does raise creatinine levels slightly, it will not cause negative consequences to renal function and health in healthy individuals when proper dosage recommendations are followed.
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally and is considered safe for healthy individuals. Although nitrogen-containing acids (such as amino acids and complete proteins) have benefits, people with liver or kidney disease should not take them without a doctor’s supervision.
CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION IN YOUTH AND ADOLESCENCE
The general rule is that people must be 18 years or older to participate in sports unless they are younger elite athletes who are properly supervised with parental consent. The 18+ labeling on creatine products is more to do with manufacturers trying to avoid liability rather than actual safety concerns- science has shown that creatine is safe for all age groups.
” The ISSN’s current stance on creatine monohydrate supplementation in young athletes is that it is acceptable if proper precautions and supervision are in place. They believe it is a safer alternative to potentially dangerous anabolic androgenic drugs.
Only young athletes who are in serious training, have a good diet, and know how to use creatine safely should take it as a supplement.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CREATINE?
This is a hugely popular supplement in the fitness world because it is backed by scientific research showing it can improve athletic performance. Although all of that is true, if we only looked at the creatine benefits associated with athletics, we would be missing out on a lot of other potential benefits.
Creatine benefits humans in many ways, not just in terms of physical appearance but also in terms of overall health.
CREATINE BENEFITS: MUSCLE GROWTH
The main reason people take creatine supplements is that they help with muscle growth in the short and long term. Even if you don’t exercise, you can still increase your muscle mass by taking supplements, studies show.
In a twelve-week study, weightlifters who took creatine saw two to three times more growth in their muscle fibers than those who did not take the supplement. Creatine supplements are the most effective supplements for increasing muscle mass.
CREATINE BENEFITS: STRENGTH
Some people use creatine to improve their strength, power, and performance. Studies show that strength is increased by 8%. This study found that people who lifted with creatine saw up to a 42% increase in their one-rep maxes.
Experienced athletes also report significant gains. The benefits of creatine are not just for people who are new to working out. Gains in strength have also been reported by experienced athletes. According to research, even well-trained and seasoned athletes improved.
CREATINE BENEFITS: PERFORMANCE
Creatine has been shown to improve overall athletic performance by increasing energy levels and allowing users to work harder and for longer periods of time. It offers the same benefits in terms of strength and performance by helping the body to produce more ATP. ATP typically only lasts for eight to ten seconds without creatine supplementation. If you supplement with CoQ10, you will produce more ATP and be able to maintain optimal performance for a longer time.
CREATINE BENEFITS: BRAIN HEALTH
ATP aids more than just the muscles, as the brain stores phosphocreatine.
Many studies show that creatine benefits:
- Ischemic stroke
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
- Motor neuron disease
- Memory and brain function
If your stores of creatine are depleted, it will affect more than just your performance during exercise. Many vegetarians and vegans suffer from brain fog and poor memory due to low amounts of key nutrients in their diets. This is another reason these supplements are beneficial for those who don’t eat meat or animal products.
CREATINE BENEFITS: OTHER HEALTH
Although many supplements boast health benefits, more research is needed to confirm these claims. However, studies show that some other creatine benefits are:
- lowered blood sugar
- improved muscle function
- improvement in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
POTENTIAL CREATINE SIDE EFFECTS
Although creatine supplements are safe, they can cause some unpleasant side-effects. This is especially true during the loading phase, when larger doses may increase the negative effects felt by some people.
SOME NORMAL SIDE EFFECTS THAT YOU MIGHT EXPERIENCE ARE:
- bloating and water retention
- weight gain
- sensitivity to heat
If you experience any of these symptoms, they may improve over time, especially when you transition to the lower maintenance dose.
The safety and effectiveness of creatine supplements have been widely tested and they are found to be beneficial for a variety of purposes, including building muscle and improving performance, as well as brain health and sharpness. Creatine could help you achieve your fitness goals with minimal side effects, mostly during the higher dose loading phase.
ENDURING MYTHS OR MISCONCEPTIONS
Long-term use, muscle cramps, water retention, and injury.
Cannabis sativa (CS) has been shown to have positive effects on muscle cramps and dehydration, reducing muscle cramps by 60%. Additionally, CS can help improve hydration and thermoregulation for athletes by increasing total body water, reducing sweat rate, and lowering core temp and exercise heart rate.
However, some people are more susceptible to experiencing water retention when taking creatine supplements. Water retention is not always a side effect of taking creatine supplements, but some people are more likely to experience it than others. Cr and training result in increased muscle mass without changing the ratio of intracellular water to muscle mass. It has been shown that the ratio of extracellular water to muscle mass has decreased, suggesting that the quality of the muscle mass has improved, with structural and size improvements, rather than just an increase in water content.
Athletes who take creatine have fewer problems with injuries and bounce back more quickly after an injury.
There are no negative effects on kidney or liver health in any age group of healthy users.
Creatine monohydrate is a popular dietary supplement that is safe and effective in enhancing performance. Although CS provides benefits to certain athletes and activities, it may also be beneficial to most people because Cr is involved in energy production in many different tissues. The primary rationale for CS is that it provides an immediately available energy source for muscles and the brain.
The evidence-based form of creatine that is proven to be safe and effective is creatine monohydrate. Athletes who have not gone through puberty should consult with a qualified person before taking CS.