What is Creatine? What does it do?
How does it work?
Are you thinking about supplementing your diet? There are plenty of options available in the Indian fitness scenario when it comes to supplementation. Whey, BCAA etc. all are excellent supplements. More often, you may have stumbled upon a discussion where someone mentions “Creatine.” But there is also a lot of speculation as to whether it is safe to consume? Let us start a discussion here. Please use our comments section to give us your views and opinions about Creatine.
Creatine is arguably the best supplement if you wish to gain significant amount of muscle and more importantly increase your strength in a short term or even an extended period of time. Natural sources of Creatine are red meat, like beef or goat meat. But the powdered form is often preferred, as it is easily available and more durable. Another reason being, Vegans can get their creatine requirements fulfilled from the powdered form.
To start with, a small dosage of Creatine powder is highly effective for muscle growth.
How exactly does it work?
Creatine is naturally found in our body. It is very similar to amino acids, chemically. About 95% of the Creatine present in our body is stored in the muscles and the rest is distributed amongst the Kidneys, Liver and Brain.
Phosphocreatine is a more complex compound which is derived from Creatine and is then stored in the muscle cells. During heavy training, the body depends on the muscle cells to provide more energy and hence help in continuing the training. These muscle cells then convert the phosphocreatine to ATP, which is basically energy in its purest form. This is then supplied to the body to fight lactic acid development and thus helps you train longer.
The strength benefits of Creatine aren’t just limited to this. It’s a scientifically proven fact that Creatine increases the anabolic hormone discharge in your body. The regenerative ability of the muscles is also boosted, so that better recovery from a heavy training day is received.
Protein synthesis is also increased. A 12-week study in weight lifters found that creatine supplementation increased muscle fibre growth two to three times more than training without it.
There was a significant increase in their total body mass, almost double the initial mass and their maximum one rep strength increased as well. Also, Creatine does take down the Myostatin levels, which is basically a muscle killing hormone.
Pros and Cons.
Many strength athletes use the terminology “Naturally Available Steroid” in their definition of Creatine. Due to receiving such high acclaim from the health and fitness industry, Creatine is also the most widely researched supplement there is. Researchers have proven the fact that Creatine consumption doesn’t have any negatives attached to it. The myth of it being bad for your liver was proven to be false in an intensive study on 52 people who supplemented with Creatine for a 21 month period.
The researchers looking for any negative effects of Creatine indicated the reverse. Vegetarians generally tend to have low creatine stores because they don’t eat meat.
Creatine has also known to increase memory power and overall functioning of the brain. Other health benefits offered by Creatine are numerous. Many neurological disease are prevented by it. Also, it’s clinically proven that Creatine boosts the healthy functioning of the brain. Supplementing Creatine helps you prevent major diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’, Huntington’s, Ischemic Stroke and Epilepsy amongst many others. One study conducted on a child with brain trauma was also conducted, where Creatine was added to his diet for 6 months and a 70% reduction in Fatigue and a 50% Reduction in Dizziness were observed.
How to use it?
There are two ways you can use Creatine:-
1.) Bulking/De Loading Phase cycles :- Let’s suppose you are supplementing your diet with Creatine for 4 weeks. For 3 weeks, consume 20 g a day and for the last week, consume about 5 g a week. During the first phase of the cycle, your body retains large amounts of water in the muscle cells and in the second one just maintains the bulk from the first week. This type of supplementation helps you gain more muscle mass, but atrophy might be observed when supplementation is stopped.
2.) Long Term Consumption :- Use around 5-7 grams of Creatine daily without break. The results generated by such supplementation are more long lasting and much preferred if you don’t wish to use Creatine for a long time.
Bottom Line :-
Creatine is definitely SAFE. It doesn’t have any ill effects on your health if consumed within the optimum dosage level and is crucial for a quick and effective recovery. Also, it is the lightest supplement on your pocket and easily fits in a tight budget.