WHAT DOES CREATINE DO FOR YOUR BODY?
Nov 16, 23 | News | 0 Comments
In the world of sports nutrition, few ingredients have garnered as much attention, research, confusion, dispute and acclaim as creatine monohydrate. After 20 strong years of being on shelf, it is still clouded with rumour and a dogma it hasn't really been able to shake off. But, with generations of past and current users, the real benefits of creatine are only now being identified. In our opinion, it is the most undervalued supplement on the market and it has yet to reach its true place as the righteous “King of Supplementation”.
For those consumers who are in the know, creatine monohydrate is a household name and a verifiable kit bag staple for athletes, bodybuilders, powerlifters and fitness enthusiasts alike. But, with a never ending influx of new trainers who become passionate fitness enthusiasts, the whispers at the water dispenser and bro-science misconceptions leave many wondering: What exactly is it? Is it safe? How does it work in the body? And, most importantly, what are the genuine benefits of incorporating creatine into your regimen?
Join us as we demystify the inner workings of creatine. From the basics of what it is, to the profound impact on muscle strength, endurance, and overall well-being, giving you the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your current and future use with this gold-standard supplement.
Creatine is an amino-acid-like compound that is found naturally in the human body. It is produced endogenously by the kidneys, pancreas and liver, from complex chemical reactions involving the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine, and is stored in the brain, liver and muscles as phosphocreatine (PCr).
You will of course find creatine in dietary animal proteins such as red meat, poultry and fish, with lower levels present in dairy. From a dietary perspective, there isn't quite enough creatine available to move the dial on your performance gains, with a typical 1 lb of uncooked steak delivering between 1-2g of creatine. In order for you to reach the dosage levels available in most supplements, you’d have to consume almost inhuman amounts of meat.
Vegan and vegetarian consumers are missing out on the inclusion of creatine rich food sources, but this can easily be remedied through regular supplementation. As creatine monohydrate is now synthetically produced to enhance purity and quality, no animal origin materials are used in its production, making the journey of figuring out what meets those dietary restrictions that much easier.
On the science side, creatine remains without question the most researched supplement on the market. With enough human safety data and research-based evidence on its function, it should be considered a necessary daily supplement, without question.
Is Creatine a Steroid?
Is creatine an anabolic steroid? No, it is not. It is not a hormone, and does not behave the same way a hormone does. However, its effects on muscle building, muscle endurance and muscle performance can be similar in action, but without the negative effects.
There are many different forms of creatine on the market, with what seems to be a newer variant every few years as ingredient manufacturers attempt to improve on an already winning ingredient, trying to corner a share of the growing market place. As it stands, creatine monohydrate offers a combination of reliable research, standardised quality and purity, and a cost effective solution.In order to get the most bang for your buck, powder forms of creatine monohydrate like Applied Nutrition’s Creatine Monohydrate range are best, and it is much easier to adjust your dosage depending on your requirements too.
Some people may avoid taking creatine due to the perceived health risks associated with it, such as kidney or liver damage. We aren't quite sure where this rumour started, or how creatine monohydrate became the scapegoat for this health concern. Several clinical trials implemented strict clinical surveillance measures, including continual monitoring of laboratory markers of kidney health, inflammation, and liver function; none of which were negatively impacted by the respective creatine supplementation interventions. In fact, the strongest supporting evidence for the safety of creatine is the classification of creatine as a Generally Recognised as Safe ingredient by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2020.
What Does it Do and How Does it Work?
Although we love the science, it can get confusing. We promise this is the only section which may prove a bit tricky to get your head around!
The fair majority (around 95%) of creatine is stored in the skeletal muscles, liver and brain in the form of phosphocreatine (PCr). This immediately available molecule supports the ATP-PC energy cycle, helping your body to transport a high-energy molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
For a muscle to contract, ATP must break off a phosphate group, leaving behind adenosine diphosphate (ADP). The body cannot use ADP for energy, so ADP takes a phosphate from the body’s PCr store to form more ATP. When you have more ATP, your recovery between sets improves significantly. Supplementing with creatine increases the body’s store of PCr, which means ATP can be reformed quicker, specifically in the working muscle tissue.
Supplementing with creatine increases the body’s ability to rapidly produce energy and therefore leads to increased muscle growth and stamina due to more work being able to be put in before fatigue hits you. The goal is to lift heavier, for longer!
Does Creatine Cause Weight Gain?
For those who are looking to lose weight, you may be reluctant to supplement with creatine due to the fact that it does cause some weight gain, especially when you start taking it. Research has thoroughly documented that creatine supplements cause a rapid increase of weight, but this is short-term as it is water weight. This is because it alters your stored water content by driving additional water, creatine and the valuable carbohydrates and amino acids into your muscle cells.
Weight gain from supplementing with creatine is not due to gaining fat, but due to an increase of water stores in your muscles, making the muscle look bigger and fuller which is an important element of the creatine's functional purpose. Over time, with training and the correct nutrition, you will still lose total body fat, but should experience an increase in lean muscle tissue mass. However, if you are taking creatine, it is important to stay well-hydrated.
To recap, while an initial weight gain may be due to an increase in water, research shows that creatine supplementation, alongside resistance training, results in an increase in lean body mass and decrease in fat mass, leading to an improvement in body composition and muscle gain.
Boosts Athletic Performance
Improves exercise performance
One of the primary reasons athletes and fitness enthusiasts use creatine supplements is to improve their athletic performance. Due to the increase of PCr stores in the body, it means ATP is able to be produced quicker which contributes to greater exercise performance. This can result in being able to go harder for longer and lift heavier.
Increases muscle mass and strength
Having more ATP in your energy system means that you’re capable of carrying out more intense workouts and lifting heavier. Research has shown that creatine supplementation can increase maximal strength and power by 5-15% As well as this, with creatine drawing water into the muscle, this increases muscle mass naturally as well as improves both performance recovery and ability.
Creatine and Brain Health
Improves mood and cognitive function
Creatine is not only found in muscles but also in the brain, where it plays a role in energy metabolism. The brain requires a significant amount of ATP for energy, and just like in muscles, creatine can help increase the available ATP. Some research suggests that creatine supplementation may have potential benefits for cognitive function and mental clarity, especially in tasks that require short-term memory and rapid information processing.
Potential health benefits
Beyond its performance-related advantages, creatine monohydrate may offer potential health benefits. Some studies have suggested that supplementation could have positive effects on conditions such as Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy, and even certain neurological disorders.
Creatine Enhances Recovery Post-Workout
Another significant benefit of creatine supplementation is its role in recovery post-workout. Intense workouts often lead to muscle damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Creatine has been found to reduce these factors, thereby aiding in faster recovery.
Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can decrease muscle soreness and inflammation following intense exercise. It also helps replenish ATP stores faster, which can speed up recovery time between sets or workouts.
Is Creatine Safe?
When used as directed, creatine is generally safe for most people. The most common side effect is weight gain due to water retention in the muscles. Some people may experience stomach cramping or nausea if they consume too much at once or without enough water.
One common concern is the initial water weight gain associated with creatine, but it's important to remember that this is temporary. Over time, when combined with proper training and nutrition, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase lean body mass and contribute to a better overall body composition.
However, it's always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially for those with kidney disease or other medical conditions.
In conclusion, the world of sports nutrition and fitness has long celebrated creatine as the "king of supplements" for good reason. It's a safe, extensively researched, and highly effective addition to your fitness regimen. From its fundamental role in enhancing exercise performance and promoting muscle growth to its potential cognitive and health benefits, creatine stands as a versatile ally on your journey to improved well-being.
Moreover, creatine isn't just for athletes, powerlifters and bodybuilders. Its potential benefits extend to individuals with specific health conditions and even those following vegetarian or vegan diets, as it helps bridge the gap in natural intake.
Applied Nutrition’s Creatine Monohydrate range gives you five products to choose from:
- Cherry and Apple Flavour
- Blue Razz Flavour
- Strawberry and Raspberry Flavour
- Unflavoured Creatine Monohydrate
- Creatine Capsules
So, whether you're aiming to crush your fitness goals, enhance your mental clarity, or explore the potential health benefits, creatine supplementation is a powerful tool at your disposal.
To view our entire range of supplements, CLICK HERE.
Written by Shannon Gaskell
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