Creatine supplementation is one of the most talked about topics in the fitness industry. There are many misconceptions about how creatine works. Some people believe that it is unsafe to use, and dangerous for your body. There are even rumors that creatine is a steroid. Many people do not fully understand what creatine is and how it works. This is what causes their fear of the supplement. In reality, these rumors and misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. In this article, i’m going to tell you the facts about creatine and clear up any questions you may have.
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid. It is produced in the human body from the amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine. Creatine is also found in many foods that we eat regularly. It is most abundant in wild game meats such as beef, bison, and elk, but can also be found in white meats such as chicken, turkey and fish.
Creatine is important for athletes who primarily use their anaerobic system for their sport. This means that they perform short duration, high intensity, explosive bouts of exercise. This can include powerlifters, olympic lifters, football players, baseball players and even sprinters. Athletes who primarily use their aerobic system, such as long distance runners and cyclists, will not benefit as much from creatine supplementation.
How does it work?
Here is an overview of how creatine works in your body. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the main source of energy for your muscles for your anaerobic system. This is what system your body uses for the first 10-15 seconds of high intensity exercise. It is composed of an adenosine and three phosphate groups. When muscle cells need energy for work, ATP loses one of its phosphates, and is split into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and P (phosphate).
ATP can be used by muscle cells very quickly, but there is only enough available for a few seconds of high intensity work. When it all runs out, the body is forced to slow down it’s work. In order to make more ATP, the body has to convert ADP back to ATP. This is where creatine comes into play. The fastest way to make more ATP is to move the phosphate group off of a phosphocreatine molucule and onto ADP. This creates ATP again. The more creatine you have in your system, the more phosphates you have that are available to use for creating more ATP.
This is why many athletes choose to supplement their diet with creatine. With this boost in ATP production, your body can now perform high intensity work for an extended period of time. This is extremely beneficial for sports performance.
Different types of creatine
Another common question I often hear is why there are so many different types of creatine supplements available for purchase. Many people don’t know the difference between them all, or which one is the best to use. Some of this comes down to personal opinion, but there is also scientific evidence that shows which types are better. Here is a brief overview of some of the more common types of creatine you may have seen before.
Creatine Monohydrate – Creatine monohydrate is the raw form of creatine. It is the most popular and most commonly used form available. It is also the most proven type of creatine. All the research and studies on monohydrate show that it works without a doubt. Also, when studies on other forms of creatine are done, they are compared to monohydrate. I personally use creatine monohydrate, and I can testify that it works.
Creatine HCL (hydrochloride) – Creatine HCL is creatine bound to a hydrochloric acid. It is claimed that by bonding the creatine, it is taken in by the body more efficiently. As a result of this, you can get the same results with a lesser amount of creatine. There seems to be inconclusive evidence if this works or not. Creatine HCL tends to be more expensive then creatine monohydrate anyways, so even if it is more efficient, it wouldn’t save you any money.
Creatine Citrate – Creatine citrate is creatine bound to citric acid. The claim with this type of creatine is basically the same as creatine HCL. Studies show that creatine citrate is more water soluble than creatine monohydrate, however this does not mean that it is more effective. This just means it dissolves in water easier and may be slightly easier to drink.
Creatine Ethyl Ester – Creatine ethyl ester is a type of creatine I would advise against taking. Studies show that this type of creatine is actually converted into creatinine once it enters the body. Creatinine has no athletic or sport performance benefits to it at all.
Creatine Nitrate – Creatine nitrate is creatine bound to… you guessed it! A nitrate group. Although nitrates do aid in blood flow and nitric oxide effects during exercise, there is no proven benefits to mixing creatine with them. A product like this would only benefit someone who takes their creatine before their training.
Micronized Creatine – Micronized creatine is creatine that has been processed so that the size of the powder is reduced. There is no change in the chemical make up of these products. The only advantage to these are that it dissolves in water better, making it easier to drink.
Creatine works for many people and athletes, but there is a small population of users that claim to not notice any effects or changes in their performance after using creatine. They are called “non-responders” and around 15-20% of creatine users say they have this problem. Some reasons why this may happen is because the users may not have enough muscle mass on them, or they have so much creatine in their bodies already from their diet that supplementation doesn’t do much for them. Some people also say that people can get different results with different types of creatine.
Another possible explanation could be that people expect it to be more than it is. It is not a miracle supplement that will turn you into a monster overnight, but it will aid in your anaerobic training. Whatever the reasons may be, if you notice this happening with you, I would recommend giving creatine an honest try before you toss it. When I first used creatine, I used a brand that did not seem to have any effects on me at all. Instead of giving up, I gave a different brand and type of creatine a try and it worked wonders for me. If you want to be able to experience all the benefits of creatine, be ready to do your research as well as taking the time to figure out which kind you like best.
My personal experience
My experience with creatine has been extremely successful. As I stated earlier, I use creatine monohydrate, and I definitely think it helps me. The brand of creatine I prefer is Optimum Nutrition. I believe that their product is the most effective in quality and cost. I notice that on all my lifts, I am able to contract my muscles more forcefully and for a longer period of time. When I am doing isolation work, I tend to perform around twelve reps of the exercise I am doing. With creatine, I am able to bust out more reps of that same weight than I could have without creatine. As a result of this, I can either increase the weight and still do twelve reps, or use the same weight for more reps. Either way, it has definitely helped me develop strength and size.
Creatine is one of the most beneficial and proven supplements on the market. Not only is it beneficial to athletes, but it can also benefit regular people. Many vegans and vegetarians use creatine supplements because their diets do not contain enough.
If you’re still not convinced on creatine after this article, then I don’t know what to tell you. If you’re too scared to use a little creatine then you’re probably too scared to apply for that promotion at work you’ve been wanting for years now, or ask out that hot girl you’ve been “talking to” for months, or build that back yard swimming pool you’ve been promising your kids for the last seven summers that you’re gonna build next summer but still haven’t gotten around to yet or do anything cool or successful at all for that matter. You may as well move back in to your moms basement and start eating top ramen and cereal for every meal and jerking yourself off until you develop arthritis in your wrists and forearms because you’re never going to do anything good with your life. Does that sound like a fulfilling life to you? Exactly.
If you have any further questions about creatine, feel free to comment below or send me an E-mail!