If you’ve ever started to research supplements, we can almost guarantee that creatine has popped up. It boasts lots of promises, from improving your strength to increasing lean muscle mass. But is that all too good to be true?
Don’t worry, we're doing all the heavy lifting for you! We’ve taken a deep dive into creatine to share with you what the real benefits are, what side effects to be aware of, and if it’s right for you and your goals.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS IT?
Creatine is an amino acid derivative produced and occurring primarily in muscle cells. This acid is produced by your kidneys and liver after eating proteins like red meat, fish, and poultry. Once creatine is created, it’s used to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is what your body uses for exercise and explosive movement, providing your muscles contractions with energy.
Think of ATP as your body’s energy currency. The more ATP you have, the better you can perform in the gym. Which in turn leads to an increase in muscle mass and results. By supplementing with creatine, your muscles will have extra fuel, you’ll be able to execute longer and harder workouts, your muscle mass will increase, and you’ll have a quicker recovery time. As a reminder, this should not replace your normal protein intake!
WHY SHOULD YOU USE IT?
The most obvious reason that most people take creatine supplements is to boost your muscle mass and help you become stronger. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. Since it helps boost your energy rapidly, it’s going to help up your performance in the gym. It can also help reduce muscle fatigue and enhance your recovery.
Sounds pretty good, right? Sure, but there may be some side effects to be aware of. An increase in body weight may occur due to water content in your muscles. So don’t panic if the scale goes up a bit, as this is not an increase in body fat. Creatine has the ability to pull water from your plasma in your bloodstream into your muscles as trained muscles hold more water than non-trained. Just be sure to stay hydrated while using creatine supplements.
Creatine is one of the most researched sports supplements out there with rare adverse side effects to date. This makes creatine a great option to add to your daily routine.
Remember that you should use it daily in your routine, whether you are working out or not! Creatine works best when taken regularly because it takes a while (about a month) for you to build to sufficient enough levels in your muscles to make a noticeable difference.
SO WHO’S IT FOR?
Creatine is great for anyone looking to up their performance in the gym. And, guess what, no matter your goal, you want increased performance in the gym! Since it helps you create more ATP, you’re sure to see a huge improvement while lifting as well as in your recovery.
But you don’t have to just be lifting weights to see its benefit! Those that are focusing on endurance training can also see benefits from taking creatine. It’s been shown to reduce inflammation and cell damage after prolonged exercise. This can help with muscle soreness and recovery after a long run.
If you’re a vegetarian, creatine may be a great way to help supplement your production since you may not be getting enough protein in your diet normally. It can also be beneficial in aging adults and in brain health.
As one of the most popular supplements on the market, there are a lot of benefits to adding creatine to your diet. But with adding any new supplement to your routine, be sure to weigh the benefits and side effects to make sure it’s the right option for you and your goals!
Here are a few options we like if you are interested in incorporating creatine into your routine.