Is creatine actually good for you?
What are the health benefits of creatine?
If you’ve ever set foot on a gym, you’ve probably heard people talking about creatine and muscle growth. Perhaps you’re even thinking about using it yourself. After all, it’s one of the most popular athletic supplements for enhancing performance in the gym.
Although creatine has been around for a long time, there’s still some skepticism surrounding creatine and muscle growth. Of course, no one should put anything in their body without understanding the benefits and health risks first. Thus, we’re here to clear up any confusion you might have regarding creatine usage for beginners.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid. It helps your muscles produce energy during high-intensity workouts. Chemically speaking, creatine shares a lot of similarities with amino acids. Our body can produce it from the amino acids arginine and glycine.
Nearly 95 percent of our body’s creatine is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine, while the other 5 percent is found in the brain, liver, and kidneys. When you supplement, it increases your stores of phosphocreatine, which is a form of stored energy in the cells. It helps the body produce a high-energy molecule known as ATP.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is commonly referred to as the energy currency of our body. The more ATP you have, the better your body can perform during exercise.
Creatine intake has never been more efficient, thanks to numerous supplement manufacturers. Instead of consuming tons of protein, you can simply take the nutrient in liquid, pill, or powdered form.
With all that said, here are five reasons why you should consider adding creatine to your daily supplement regimen.
1. Enhances Aerobic Performance
Many studies have proven creatine’s ability to boost strength, body composition, power output, and training volume. However, you don’t necessarily have to be a power athlete to reap its benefits. Creatine is helpful for endurance athletes, too.
Endurance athletes know that carb-loading can help top off glycogen stores before a race. However, what most people don’t know is that adding creatine into their diet can further improve glycogen stores.
One study found that when creatine was consumed several days prior to a usual carb-loading protocol, glycogen content improved 53% over baseline levels.
Creatine can also reduce cell damage and inflammation following intense, prolonged workouts. Another study found that when creatine was taken 5 days prior to a 30-kilometer race, athletes had lower markers of muscle soreness and inflammation following the race.
These results prove that creatine supplementation reduced inflammation and cell damage after an intense race.
2. Increases Muscle Size
Creatine is widely known for increasing muscle size in the weightlifting world.
One of the myths surrounding creatine and muscle growth is that it makes your muscles grow like protein. While that’s not entirely true, creatine does inflate muscle cells by retaining water, which gives your muscles a pumped up look.
This is also called the Creatine Muscle Volumization Effect, which promotes increased cell hydration. With proper creatine cycling, you can put on 1-3 kgs of muscle mass within a month (it’s individual).
Note: Bloating is common during creatine loading. You can either avoid or limit it by taking the maintenance dose of 3-5 grams per day.
3. Faster Recovery
Creatine enables you to work out at a higher frequency, indicating quicker and more notable muscular gains.
Remember, the more frequently you can stimulate a muscle, the more significantly it will grow—given that it had the chance to fully grow back after the initial stress load placed upon it.
Because creatine helps improve your muscle cells’ recovery rate, you don’t require a lot of rest time in between your workouts.
Therefore, if you usually take several days off between each full-body exercise, using creatine will help you cut this down to a single day between those workouts. This will gradually translate into more exercise, making a huge difference in your results.
4. Elevates Testosteron
As you reach your 30s, your testosterone levels tend to decline, causing a decrease in energy, strength, endurance, mental sharpness, and even sex drive.
One solution would be testosterone replacement therapy like injections or a regular patch, but with shaky health consequences.
So, the real question is, does creatine affect you sexually?
According to a New Jersey study, when creatine supplement was taken daily following a 10-week resistance training program, it increased the participants’ resting testosterone levels. Therefore, if you are concerned about your testosterone levels, you can consider creatine. We’d still recommend consulting a doctor for a blood test beforehand.
5. Less Sarcopenia
Speaking of creatine and muscle growth, most of us believe that as we get older, we naturally lose muscle and get weaker because that’s just a part of life. We couldn’t be more wrong.
Sarcopenia is a loss of muscle tissue caused by the aging process. Ensuring older people are getting enough creatine is a great way to prevent injuries or falls. Adding supplements to your diet with a few grams of creatine can make a vast improvement.
Creatine supplementation has been found to significantly increase hypertrophy and muscle strength in young adults, especially when taken in conjunction with a resistance training regime.
Should You Take Creatine Before or After a Workout?
Pre-or post-workout intake is not a factor for creatine, as long as you’re consuming 5-10g each day within an hour of exercise.
There are several different options for taking creatine continually. For instance, the loading protocol indicates ingesting 0.01g/day per pound (0.03 grams per kg) of creatine monohydrate for 5-7 days. After the loading phase, you can maintain your creatine stores by taking a lower dose of creatine, which ranges from 5–10g/day. Other studies recommend no loading protocol but instead, follow 5-10g/day.
Creatine and Muscle Growth: The Bottom Line
As you can see, creatine is a highly effective supplement with robust benefits for both health and athletic performance. It can accelerate muscle growth, fight certain neurological diseases, boost brain function, and enhance exercise performance.
Your diet is equally important, so don’t neglect to have a healthy lifestyle, either. Creatine can bring you significant health benefits as long as you take it the right way, and you remain constant. So, consider adding this natural substance to your supplement regimen and see if it works for you.
Feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comments below concerning creatine and muscle growth.