Creatine is popular stuff. We started to really hear about it in the early-90s, along with the rumors: “it’s a steroid”, “it’s bad for your kidneys”, “it dehydrates you”, “it gives you acne”, the list goes on. That was fake news of the 1990s, but understandably, you never know with this kind of stuff, right?
To save yourself time from getting lost down the internet rabbit hole searching for information about creatine, the following is a quick breakdown on what you actually need to know about it.
What is creatine?
Creatine is a naturally-occurring compound in the body. For the most part, it’s primarily found in our muscles. It’s also found in animals and fish. Commons ways to supplement with creatine are with concentrated powders or capsules.
What does creatine do?
The long story short is that creatine helps the body produce chemical energy called ATP. (That’s short for adenosine triphosphate). When we workout, our ATP stores get depleted and creatine helps to replenish them.
Does creatine work?
The long story short again: yes. Due to it’s popularity over the years, creatine is one of the most studied supplements. Research has shown that creatine, on average, can increase muscular strength by 8% and muscular endurance by 14%. Aside from it’s muscle-building effectiveness, it’s also been shown to have several other general health benefits that include boosting brain function and acting as an antioxidant.
Is creatine safe?
According to a position stand paper published by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, yes. Of the several studies compiled over the years, researchers are confident that creatine supplementation is safe in the short and long terms.
What’s the best way to take creatine?
If you’re going to take a creatine, go with monohydrate in powdered form. That version of creatine is the most studied. It’s unnecessary (and could be counterproductive) to use any other type.
The best time to take creatine is after a workout along with carbohydrates. Even though it’s a performance supplement, it’s doesn’t work like the caffeine in coffee or a pre-workout product. To simplify: carbohydrates help deliver the creatine to our muscles.
How much creatine should be taken?
For most people, about 3-5 grams per day is appropriate. Some experts say “loading” creatine is a good idea to get the muscles “saturated” with it to immediately start having effects on training. The loading phase is typically 5 grams, 4 times per day for 5-7 days. The loading phase is not necessary, but without it there could be a delay on when you start to see the positive effects.
So, what’s the general take on creatine?
The research looks good and experts seem to be confident in it’s effectiveness and safety. However, there is no supplement in the universe that’s going to be a life-changer. Sure, it could help you along the way, but it’s the smart eating habits, good workouts, and generally healthier lifestyle habits that make the true difference.