Creatine is readily available on most food supplement sites, but is one of the ones that people know the least about. If you’re going to be using creatine, then it’s important to know exactly what it is and how it helps your training.
To help you out we’ve put together a handy creatine FAQ to answer all of your questions below.
Creatine is a compound formed in the liver which supplies the body’s cells with energy, especially muscle cells. It comes from Amino Acids and is produced by your body in order to supply it with additional energy, especially at the beginning of a workout when the body’s usual quick energy sources (glucose) get converted into usable energy.
Beyond providing a fitness boost, there are other studies that show that creatine helps to boost the brain, an antidepressant in women as well as possibly preserve your cells.
As we’ve already discussed, creatine is produced by your body and therefore is safe. It is essentially a food supplement and can be found in meat so some additional creatine won’t do any harm to your body. There are rumours circulating that creatine is bad for your kidneys, but in tests on kidney function which found high levels of creatine, there was no effect on the function. If you take too much in one go, you may experience some nausea or stomach cramps – ensuring that you drink enough water should combat this.
How much creatine to take depends on your training regime. If you train with weights then you should aim for 5 grams a day, whilst athletes can look at around 10 grams. If you’re just doing cardio or less intensive weight training, then 2-3 grams should be enough.
You can take creatine at any time, so you can take it before or after a workout and it would still have the same saturating effect on your cells. If you want to avoid cramping or an upset stomach, try taking it with a meal.
Loading creatine would only accelerate the way your cells are loaded with creatine, rather than having any major benefit. The best way to have them is to consume daily as part of your routine. In terms of cycling, as creatine is created by your body and can take anywhere up to a month to use up additional creatine, any cycle will be effectively pointless.
There is some evidence that creatine helps to boost memory function and focus, but mostly where vegetarians are concerned. This is because we get a source of creatine from meat in our diet.
The effects of creatine and caffeine will depend on your own body. Some reports say that caffeine could block the effects of creatine, whilst others say they work together to provide an energy boost. Both can contribute to strength training, but if you’re finding the opposite, you may want to avoid taking caffeine supplements at the same time.
Some studies have shown that creatine could raise DHT (dihydrotestosterone) levels, which can increase hair loss that start with a receding hairline. However, this is only true if your hairline is already starting to recede rather than actually causing hair loss?
There is nothing at all to suggest that creatine will stop you burning fat. If you feel bloated using it, it may be due to the water retention that naturally occurs with creatine.
As we’ve already discussed, creatine is found in meat but now that it can be produced in a lab, it is actually suitable for vegetarians.
It can take a month for the additional creatine to leave your system and the only real effects will be a loss in water as you will no longer be retaining it in the same way.
Creatine is a great supplement to take if you’re looking to get more energy for your workout. Whether you take it in powder or pill form, it can be a beneficial addition to your routine and especially good for those who are lacking meat in their diet.