Creatine is one of the most controversial supplements out there, and due to this reason, it’s also the most researched supplement out there. So today, we’re gonna talk all about Creatine, we’re gonna debunk any myths around it, whether you should take or not, and if you should, how much and when you should, how it works in the body, its benefits, its side effects, is caffeine good with it etc. Let’s begin the Creatine 101 session.
1835, the year marks as the first time creatine was discovered by humans. And it was discovered, not created because every animal has creatine in their body. Creatine is naturally produced in our body, and 95% of that product is stored in our muscle tissues. Later in 1847, a detailed study on creatine was done by Mr Liebig, in which is linked creatine with muscle mass. You can read more about this study here, Creatine.
Straightforward to the 1990s, marks as the first time creatine came out as a supplement. Creatine came into the spotlight in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. At the time people named it as a steroid and thought it as a performance-enhancing drug which should be banned. Well, you can’t ban it because you’ll have to ban all meat products as well, as fish, chicken etc are the best source of natural creatine.
So, what does it do?
• Does it build muscle? Nah
Creatine can’t build muscle on its own. Then why shall we consume it? Because it aids the process of building muscle, and to know more about this process refer Fundamentals to Muscle
How does creatine do this? It increases the energy levels of the muscle. How?
ATP is the energy source of our muscles. And this ATP is produced by a process called the ATP Kreb cycle. So as the production of ATP is going on via the ATP Kreb cycle, creatine comes in and makes this process more efficient, and thus more ATP is produced for energy, and thus the energy spike in muscles.
In short, taking creatine before a workout is gonna increase your energy levels and you’re gonna be able to lift more weight than earlier.
• Creatine helps in the Muscle Recovery process
We just talked about how creatine increases the energy levels in our muscles during a workout. Then after our workout is over, creatine still helps to produce more ATP via the ATP Kreb cycle. Thus our muscles are also able to recover faster.
1. It burns fat.
Creatine on itself doesn’t burn fat. The production of more energy can help you to workout harder, which eventually might help you burn fat, but creatine on itself wouldn’t.
2. Don’t consume caffeine with creatine
Many people say that creatine shouldn't be consumed with caffeine, as they both nullify the benefits of each other at a molecular level. That’s all a load of carp. You can have creatine with caffeine, without any problems.
Who should take it?
Creatine is gonna be helpful to many people who participate in some sort of sports. However, there are some exceptions, like marathon runners and other kinds of long-time endurance based sports.
The reason behind this is that creatine helps to increase the energy levels for the fast twitch muscle fibres (ie, muscles that are worked during the fast power performance types of activities, for example, bench press, 100m sprint etc). And creatine doesn't work well for the slow twitch muscle fibres (ie, muscles that are used for activities like long distance runs, triathlon etc.
Does creatine have side effects? Yes, it has side effects, but they’re minimal. Just like everything has a good side and a bad side, the same is with creatine. But these side effects aren’t gonna have an effect on you if consume creatine smartly. These side effects won’t exist if you take it the way it’s supposed to be taken. Still, here are the side effects creatine has, if not consumed properly;
• Water Retention
Creatine needs water to exist. When you take creatine, it absorbs the water present in your cells and in extreme cases, can cause dehydration
Solution = Increase your water intake with creatine. To know how much water you should be drinking, refer water
• Stomach problems
Creatine if not mixed properly before intake, won’t get digested properly by our body and would get collected in organs. And there it would take up the water and which can later cause problems like nausea, vomiting etc.
Solution = Simple fix, mix creatine properly before use.
How to take it
To reap the most benefit out of creatine, take 5 grams before your workout and about 5 grams after your workout, in liquid form.
Many people say you need a loading phase with creatine, and in that loading phase, you need to take 10-20 grams of creatine before and after your workout. In my opinion, that’s all a load of bullshit. Stick with 5 grams after and before your workout.
Also, remember to take 1-2 weeks off creatine after every 4-5 weeks of intake. Why? As you start taking, after around 4 weeks or so your body gets used to those levels of creatine. So to keep reaping the benefits creatine, you either need to up your daily intake or take a week or two off.
Also, creatine moves throughout our body via the blood, via sugar-based carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides). So to make this transportation process more fast and efficient, intake of any sugar based liquid like dextrose along with creatine is will help you to get the most out of your intake.
Remember to take loads of water with creatine.
Which type of creatine to take?
Creatine comes in many forms.
This is the best form of creatine to take. This has various more types, every supplements company has created their different form of creatine. However, the only two types you should consider are
a. Creatine monohydrate
b. Micronized Creatine (Better than mono)
This form is okay, but not as effective as a powder.
As soon as you mix creatine with a liquid like water, its molecular properties start to change with time. So storing your creatine in a liquid, or consuming liquid creatine right off the bat is a waste of your money, as its benefits get nullified.
What to take away from this?
Creatine is completely safe to take my friends. Still, if you have any kidney/liver-related problems, I would recommend you to talk to a doctor. However, if you don’t, then creatine can be a wonderful supplement for you. Remember to drink a ton of water, use some form of glucose/sugary drink with your creatine intake and take 1-2 weeks off after every 4 weeks of intake.