If you have been looking for ways to build muscle faster and more efficiently, you are likely to have heard about creatine. In this article we’ll take a look at what exactly creatine is and whether or not supplementation can be used as an effective way to boost your muscle building efforts. You will also learn when and how to use creatine for maximum results.
What is creatine?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that is produced in your body, mainly in your kidneys, but also in your liver and pancreas. Additionally it is found in certain foods, mainly in lean red meat and fish. It is transported through the blood and stored primarily in the muscles as phosphocreatine. During high-intensity activities such as sprinting or weight-lifting, this phosphocreatine is converted into ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is a major source of energy for the body.
The amount of ATP stored in the muscles is only enough for intensive muscle contraction lasting a few seconds. For longer bursts of activity, phosphocreatine is quickly converted to ATP to provide the muscles with the extra energy they need for this activity.
About half of the stored creatine in the body is produced from amino acids by the kidneys, liver and pancreas. The other half comes from food.
Creatine to build muscle
Extensive research has proven that creatine supplementation leads to an increase in muscle mass and elevates muscle performance. It can effectively increase the muscles maximum force production and improve the body’s response to resistance training as well as speeding up recovery after workouts. In other words, by supplying your body with more creatine you will be able to increase the duration and the intensity of your workouts.
Creatine has been shown to increase bone mineral density and may therefore be beneficial for bone health in healthy individuals. Research also indicates that Creatine can alleviate or prevent muscle damage and inflammation caused by excessive endurance performance and high intensity activity.
Because it plays an important role in providing the muscles with the energy needed for short and intensive bursts of activity, it is most effective for sports which involve a lot of high-intensity intermittent exercise such as sprinting and resistance training.
The daily intake of 5 to 20 grams of creatine through supplementation has proven to be very safe and has little or no side-effects.
How to use creatine supplements
It is best to start your creatine supplementation with what is known as a loading phase. This means taking between 15 and 20 grams of creatine for 2 to 5 days. This will saturate your body with it. The best way to do this is by taking small amounts 3 to 4 time a day. The reason for this is that, if you take a large amount at once, not all of it will be absorbed and the excess creatine is flushed out of the body through your urine. By supplying your body with small amounts, more of it will be absorbed and less will be flushed out.
After the loading phase taking a dosage of 2 to 5 grams of creatine daily is enough for the average person to maintain high levels and to get maximum benefits from workouts.
The most common type of creatine supplement on the market is creatine monohydrate. A common complaint about this supplement is the high level of water retention. This can lead to weight gain, dehydration and muscle cramps, especially when taken in high dosages. When taking this supplement you should make sure you keep yourself properly hydrated.
Recently a new type of supplement has appeared called tri-creatine malate. This is made by bonding creatine with malic acid. The result is a supplement that is much easier for the body to absorb and greatly reduces water retention. Also, it works fast and there is no need for a loading phase. If you want to start creatine supplementation then we would suggest you use tri-creatine malate for the fastest results.