All you need to know about creatine
Creatine is a naturally occurring molecule with an amino acid-like structure. It can be found in beef, pig, and fish, and it is created by the body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
Skeletal muscle stores around 95% of the creatine in your body. A 70kg male will store roughly 120g, however by supplementing with creatine, this can be increased to approximately 160g.
Every day, the body depletes 1-2% of your muscle creatine stores. To replace the creatine that has been broken down, the body either creates it from amino acids or obtains it from food sources such as meat and fish.
To get a significant amount of creatine, one needs to eat a lot of meat and fish. For example, 450g of raw beef contains 1g of creatine. Creatine supplementation is thus a cheap and more effective technique to increase your body's availability of creatine.
How does creatine function?
Creatine reacts with the chemical component phoshagen in your body to generate phosphocreatine (PCr). The body needs creatine to produce ATP for energy during intense exercise, such as a strong set of squats or a 60m sprint.
Your ability to perform at a high level is dependent on your muscles' ability to produce ATP. PCr assists your body in producing this crucially needed ATP, allowing you to function at the required intensity for a longer period of time.
Your body uses PCr as fuel during explosive actions such as weight training or sprinting. By increasing your body's accessible PCr reserves, you will be able to complete those crucial extra reps.
By supplementing with creatine, this improved work quality over time will result in higher training adaptations such as increased muscle mass, greater strength, and faster sprint times.
Creatine is used by whom?
Creatine will benefit anyone wanting to gain muscle mass and strength.
Creatine can benefit in a variety of different sporting settings due to its favourable effect on repeated bouts of high intensity exercise. There is ample evidence to support a performance advantage in a variety of sports, particularly those requiring explosive, strong movements and a rapid recovery period following repeated sprints.
Anyone who has been training for strength for a long time understands how irritating it can be to hit a plateau. Nothing is more frustrating than putting in the effort but seeing no results. For example, if your squat or bench press is stuck, using creatine supplementation could provide you the extra edge you need to break through a plateau.
Because creatine is abundant in meat and fish, vegetarians may benefit more from creatine supplements because their storage levels are lower.
Creatine benefits and effects
Creatine supplementation has been repeatedly proved to be a very effective strategy to build muscle growth when paired with resistance training.
According to the facts, those who supplement with creatine can gain roughly twice as much muscle mass as those who do not.
While the exact processes for the increase in muscle mass are unknown, research shows that the increases may be attributable to an increased capacity to execute a greater quantity of high-quality training.
Essentially, higher creatine storage allows you to put out more reps and recover faster between sets. This will result in increased muscle gain over time.
Creatine also has osmotic characteristics, which means it draws water into muscle cells, causing them to expand. It has been proposed that this swelling functions as a signal to activate muscle protein synthesis, which is the mechanism by which your body grows muscle.
Recent evidence suggests that creatine can be especially effective for muscular growth in those trying to build chest, shoulder, and arm muscles. In a study comparing muscle mass gains in response to resistance exercise, creatine supplementation was found to build more muscle in the upper body than the lower body.
It was proposed that this was due to the composition of muscle fibre types. Upper body muscles with a higher proportion of type 2 muscle fibres (the kind used in fast, powerful movements such as weightlifting) and those fibres are more susceptible to creatine supplementation due to a greater uptake in creatine.
Creatine's effects on muscle mass are even more pronounced in vegetarians. A study that looked at the benefits of a resistance training programme combined with creatine supplementation found that vegetarians gained 2.4g of lean body mass on average over the course of 8 weeks, compared to 1.9kg in meat eaters.
Creatine for increased strength and performance
Creatine supplementation has been shown to improve strength performance in numerous studies. Strength performance has been shown in both short-term and long-term studies to improve performance by 5% to 15%.
Creatine may be the ideal supplement for anyone aiming to set a new bench press PB due to improved strength performance and increased muscle mass in the upper body. Studies on the effect of creatine on 1RM bench press performance have found an increase ranging from 3% to 45%.
Creatine can also aid in the improvement of strength in a variety of other basic gym exercises, including the squat, leg press, leg curl, leg extension, and shoulder press. A 10-week trial of each of these found that creatine supplementation increased strength performance in all of them. This was ascribed to greater work capacity and resistance to the effects of overtraining.
Creatine has also been demonstrated to be especially advantageous to weightlifting. A study paper on the effects of creatine supplementation on strength and weightlifting performance discovered that individuals who combined creatine with resistance training improved performance by 26%. Performance was only increased by 12% in individuals who did not take creatine. When it comes to placing on the podium on competition day, this 14% differential can make all the difference.
Creatine for glycogen replenishment and recovery
Creatine can aid in the replenishment of glycogen stores in your body. Depending on the time and intensity of your session, your muscle's glycogen stores can be depleted by up to 40% during resistance training. The ability to regenerate glycogen is an important part of recovery because it allows you to return to high-intensity training or exercise sooner.
Creatine and cognitive function
Creatine may potentially have a role in brain energy production. There is evidence that creatine supplementation can increase performance in complex mental tasks where your brain requires a lot of energy.
For example, individuals who supplemented with creatine did higher on a number recall task. However, this impact was not observed in the less difficult memory challenge, indicating that the more energy the brain requires, the more effective creatine can be.
Vegetarians, like skeletal muscle, may exhibit higher benefits in cognitive function due to a lack of creatine in their diet.
When should you take creatine?
Creatine is best taken after an exercise when anabolic hormones (muscle-building hormones) like insulin are increased. In addition, studies have shown that combining creatine with protein and carbs may be the most effective approach to deliver creatine into muscle cells.
Combining all three in a post-workout smoothie is an excellent way to maximize recovery and training responses.
Dosage and loading of creatine
A loading phase is the quickest approach to build creatine reserves. 5g creatine monohydrate four times a day for 5-7 days is an example of this. The faster you increase your creatine levels, the better your performance and workout capacity will be. However, saturating your creatine stockpiles with a lower maintenance dose, such as 3g per day for 28 days, is also an option.
Once creatine storage are fully saturated, a maintenance dose of 3-5g per day will suffice to keep them full. However, for larger athletes, this may need to be increased to 5-10g.
Creatine side effects and safety
Creatine's only reported negative effect is weight gain. Numerous long-term studies have found no negative health effects from daily creatine consumption.
Creatine can help you achieve virtually any weight-training goal. From enhancing recuperation to increasing strength throughout a variety of exercises.
Creatine can also aid with any sport that involves quick recovery and explosive motions.
Vegetarians may benefit the most because they have lower levels of creatine stored due to a lack of meat and fish in their diet.
With little adverse effects, creatine can be an excellent supplement for maximising muscle, strength, and performance improvements on a budget.