If you’ve been to the gym, chances are, you’ve heard of creatine. Now let’s about “What exactly is creatine ?” “Is it good for me?” “Will it help me achieve results faster ?” If you’re curious about creatine, then read on.
What is Creatine, and What Does It Do?
For starters, let’s have a little definition of terms here. It is a substance, a naturally occurring one, found in muscle tissue. It is produced in the body through the kidneys and liver. It can also be obtained from certain foods, like meat, with red meat (beef, lamb) having the highest levels of dietary creatine. As for what it does, think of it as some sort of power/energy reserve your body taps into whenever the need arises. The muscles convert creatine into creatine phosphate, which is then generated into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which the body uses during high intensity activity.
Say Hello to ATP
The cells in the body depend on adenosine triphosphate for energy. Sort of like how fuel works, this is what enables people to do physical activities. And like fuel, it can run out. The more intense an activity is, the more ATP you’ll use up. It’s why the term “running out of juice” is a thing. In very intense activities, the body uses more ATP than it can recover. Sort of like a car running out of fuel. The body can replenish ATP though. It does so through one of three ways:
- For exercises like short sprints or heavy lifting, ATP is replenished with creatine phosphate found in muscle tissue in approx. 10 sec. or less.
- For activities like swimming some laps, ATP is replenished with glycogen found in muscles in approx. 30 sec. – 2 min.
- For activities that test endurance, ATP is replenished with oxygen and glucose in approx. 2 min. or more.
Creatine and ATP in Workout Routines
How does creatine help in the routine then? the answer lies in the fact that the body can quickly convert creatine to ATP. We’re talking seconds here. That is how creatine helps increase the body’s ability to produce energy rapidly. So, more creatine in your muscles = more ATP. More ATP = more energy. More energy = boost in your work out performance. This is why people like athletes and bodybuilders take creatine supplements. They help enhance the work a person is able to do. But of course, too much of everything is bad, so just take the recommended amounts.
Supplements | Which Creatine I should take
Creatine exists in multiple forms:
- Creatine Monohydrate – this is the most common, and most recommended form of creatine. Folks discussing about the benefits and safety of creatine refer to this type as it is the form most commonly used in research. Its downside is that the body might have trouble absorbing all of it.
- Creatine Ethyl Ester – this one’s thought to be absorbed in the body easier than creatine monohydrate, though it seems inferior when it comes to body composition.
- Creatine Hydrochloride – it is said that this one is also easier absorbed, and that it won’t you bloated. Although to be safe, it’s best to hold off on this one until more studies are done on its safety.
- Buffered creatine – this one attempts to solve the stomach issues that are said to arise as a side effect of creatine consumption. This form is mixed with an alkaline powder to make it easier to digest. Studies are mixed on this one, though it’s best to avoid this until studies conclude its safety.
To be on the safer side of things, just stick with creatine monohydrate. Also, taking creatine supplements can help muscle hydration, which means that your muscles will be holding on to more water, thus leaving less for other places. So increase your water intake to avoid risk of dehydration.
Creatine Side Effects
One side effect of creatine supplements is that it can lead to weight gain, since the muscles retain water. There are some reports of kidney problems linked with creatine usage, but those are isolated cases, where someone with pre-existing medical condition developed further problems by using it. So basically, if you’re healthy and not taking other medicine or stuff, you should be fine. Other concerns include dehydration and diarrhea, but as stated earlier, taking creatine supplements make muscles hold on to more water, leaving less for other areas. As such, when you start taking creatine, drink more water.
Creatine: Should You or Should You Not
If you are looking to enhance your workout and maximize results, creatine supplements will be helpful. Just remember the safety precautions, drink plenty of water, and only take the recommended amounts. After all, too much of something is a bad thing.
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