Creatine Monohydrate is probably the best supplement out there.
With its many benefits, it is a product that almost all clients can benefit from.
Before I dive into the details, I recommend that you find a product that has Creapure on the label, which is the highest quality and purest form of creatine monohydrate that we have available to us in the market.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally-occurring substance that’s produced in the body from amino acids during protein metabolism.
It is produced in the liver, kidney, and pancreas and is transported into skeletal muscle through the blood.
We store creatine in our muscles, among other places.
Supplementing with creatine monohydrate allows us to safely increase muscle creatine stores to levels that are difficult to attain through just diet alone, it's typically found in red meats and seafood.
Creatine Monohydrate is the original form and one of the most well-researched and efficacious dietary supplement for sports performance, making it effective, cheap, and safe.
The benefits of creatine are many including performance enhancement, improved recovery, increased muscle growth, cognitive enhancement.
What does Creatine do?
1. Performance enhancement
Creatine turns into creatine phosphate in the body, which then helps to make a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s energy currency.
This anaerobic system provides immediate energy (usually within the 7-12s mark) for high-intensity activities such as sprinting and weightlifting.
In short, creatine helps to supply energy to muscles and nerve cells for quick muscular contractions.
This allows more phosphocreatine production to occur and speeds up the replenishment of ATP which allows us to perform at high intensities and train harder.
2. Reduce fatigue, increase recovery Another great benefit of creatine is that it promotes recovery by helping reduce markers of inflammation, muscle damage, and muscle protein breakdown.
This is huge in reducing fatigue accumulation during exercise thus promoting greater recovery.
As you store creatine in the muscle, it is stored with water (like glycogen), as creatine draws water into the cell.
This boosts muscle recovery and helps the muscle cells stay hydrated.
There is also a cell swelling effect to creatine, which helps build muscle. 4. Cognitive enhancement
Our brain is always on, making it metabolically active and expensive to upkeep in terms of energy.
Higher creatine levels have been proven to support mental and neurological health and development through the enhancement of cognitive tasks such as an improvement in memory and reduction in mental fatigue.
This benefit is key in the weight room and beyond.
Potential Side Effects and Risks Increased creatine storage will lead your body weight to increase due to the increased water storage in muscle cells as described above.
This increase levels out over time and doesn’t impact your aesthetics negatively. The other side effect that is typically reported includes gastrointestinal distress, which occurs almost exclusively from creatine loading, and is not necessary (read next section).
Other than the above, creatine is safe and has no other notable side effects. Proper Dosage
When it comes to dosage, the amount you need to take is relative to the amount of skeletal muscle you have.
And there are two common ways people consume creatine.
First, some may opt to load creatine for 5-7 days usually at 20g per day, and then revert back to a maintenance dose of 3-5g/day.
The other option and the one I recommend to most clients is to simply take a 3-5g dose daily.
You will be able to reap the benefits in as little as two weeks and will avoid potential drastic water retention and GI issues that are common with loading.
This second approach also smoothens out the weight gain to a slow and steady rise over the 2-4 week period instead.
After this period, it is likely that your muscle creatine stores will be maxed out, at that point, just continue with the maintenance dose.
At the end of the day, the 7-day head start you can seemingly gain from loading with creatine does not really matter in the grand scheme of things, especially when compared to the gains you can get from just being on creatine and training hard over years consistently.
Next, it does not need to be taken with carbohydrates, or taken with carbohydrates and protein. It can be taken by itself, in a protein shake, or with a meal. All options work.
The only thing to take note of is the potential interference of caffeine, which is covered in the next section.
As a bonus, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’re likely to enjoy even more pronounced effects than someone on an omnivorous diet.
Creatine vs Caffeine
Both caffeine and creatine have the potential to acutely enhance performance, but there has been some research looking at the potential interference effect where caffeine may block the performance of creatine. The evidence on this is not definitive at this point. Furthermore, taking both together could cause gastrointestinal discomfort to occur.
To keep this point simple, I would recommend being mindful of the dose and timing of creatine and caffeine. Aim to consume creatine at a time far away from caffeine is the best bet to still have both.
Other forms of Creatine
While there are other numerous supplemental forms of creatine, including magnesium-creatine chelate, creatine citrate, creatine malate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine nitrate, and creatine pyruvate.
On the whole, these alternative forms of creatine performed inconsistently against placebos, and in the studies where they were compared against creatine monohydrate, they never significantly outperformed monohydrate.
The takeaway here is no other form besides creatine monohydrate needs to be considered. Creatine monohydrate does the job perfectly and is 2-8x cheaper than other creatine sources so don’t even bother.
In all, if you aren’t already taking Creatine, what are you waiting for? I hope that you now understand all the benefits of taking Creatine and why it's one of the best supplements out there when it comes to performance.
I hope this article helped you gain a fuller understanding of how to supplement with Creatine and the reasons why you would want to do so!
If you are someone who wants 1-1 tailored plan and accountability to reach your physique goals, I would strongly encourage you to apply for coaching!
If you enjoyed the article feel free to let me know below, I would love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading and look forward to talking soon.