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Today I talk about Creatine and the effects It has on our bodies for men, women, older men, and younger adults. As always with these types of informational type posts, I leave TONS of links that you can check out and make the decision for yourself.
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Creatine is the number-one supplement for improving performance in the gym.
Studies show that it can increase muscle mass, strength and exercise performance (International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise
Additionally, creatine can provide a number of other health benefits, such as protecting against neurological disease (Creatine and cyclocreatine attenuate MPTP neurotoxicity,
Some people believe that creatine is unsafe and has many side effects, but these are not supported by evidence (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
What Is Creatine
Creatine is a substance that is found naturally in muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise.
Taking creatine as a supplement is very popular among athletes and bodybuilders in order to gain muscle, enhance strength and improve exercise performance (International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise).
Chemically speaking, it shares many similarities with amino acids. Your body can produce it from the amino acids glycine and arginine.
Several factors affect your body’s creatine stores, including meat intake, exercise, amount of muscle mass and levels of hormones like testosterone and IGF-1 (Clinical pharmacology of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate).
About 95% of your body’s creatine is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. The other 5% is found in your brain, kidneys, and liver.
When you supplement, you increase your stores of phosphocreatine. This is a form of stored energy in the cells, as it helps your body produce more of a high-energy molecule called ATP.
ATP is often called the body’s energy currency. When you have more ATP, your body can perform better during exercise.
Creatine also alters several cellular processes that lead to increased muscle mass, strength, and recovery (International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise
Creatine is a substance found naturally in your body — particularly in muscle cells. It is commonly taken as a supplement.
How Does It Work
Creatine can improve health and athletic performance in several ways.
In a high-intensity exercise, its primary role is to increase the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles.
The additional stores can then be used to produce more ATP, which is the key energy source for heavy lifting and high-intensity exercise (Differential response of muscle phosphocreatine to creatine supplementation in young and old subjects
Creatine also helps you gain muscle in the following ways:
- Boosted workload: Enables more total work or volume in a single training session, which is a key factor in long-term muscle growth (Effects of oral creatine supplementation on muscular strength and body composition).
- Improved cell signaling: Can increase satellite cell signaling, which aids muscle repair and new muscle growth (Dietary creatine monohydrate supplementation increases satellite cell mitotic activity during compensatory hypertrophy).
- Raised anabolic hormones: Studies note a rise in hormones, such as IGF-1, after taking creatine (Increased IGF mRNA in human skeletal muscle after creatine supplementation
- Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults
- Regulation of muscle mass by growth hormone and IGF-I).
- Increased cell hydration: Lifts water content within your muscle cells, which causes a cell volumization effect that may play a role in muscle growth (17, 18).
- Reduced protein breakdown: May increase total muscle mass by reducing muscle breakdown (Effects of acute creatine monohydrate supplementation on leucine kinetics and mixed-muscle protein synthesis).
- Lower myostatin levels: Elevated levels of the protein myostatin can slow or totally inhibit new muscle growth. Supplementing with creatine can reduce these levels, increasing growth potential (Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on serum myostatin and GASP-1).
Creatine supplements also increase phosphocreatine stores in your brain, which may improve brain health and prevent neurological disease Creatine and cyclocreatine attenuate MPTP neurotoxicity
Creatine gives your muscles more energy and leads to changes in cell function that increase muscle growth.
Effects on Muscle Gain
Creatine is effective for both short- and long-term muscle growth (Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis).
It assists many different people, including sedentary individuals, older adults and elite athletes (Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease
One 14-week study in older adults determined that adding creatine to a weight-training program significantly increased leg strength and muscle mass (Creatine supplementation enhances isometric strength and body composition improvements following strength exercise training in older adults).
In a 12-week study in weightlifters, creatine increased muscle fiber growth 2–3 times more than training alone. The increase in total body mass also doubled alongside one-rep max for bench press, a common strength exercise (Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training).
A large review of the most popular supplements selected creatine as the single most beneficial supplement for adding muscle mass (International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise
Supplementing with creatine can result in significant increases in muscle mass. This applies to both untrained individuals and elite athletes.
Effects on Strength and Exercise Performance
Creatine can also improve strength, power, and high-intensity exercise performance.
In one review, adding creatine to a training program increased strength by 8%, weightlifting performance by 14% and bench press one-rep max by up to 43%, compared to training alone (Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance).
In well-trained strength athletes, 28 days of supplementing increased bike-sprinting performance by 15% and bench-press performance by 6% (The effect of creatine monohydrate ingestion on anaerobic power indices, muscular strength and body composition).
Creatine also helps maintain strength and training performance while increasing muscle mass during intense over-training (The effects of creatine supplementation on muscular performance and body composition responses to short-term resistance training overreaching).
These noticeable improvements are primarily caused by your body’s increased capacity to produce ATP.
Normally, ATP becomes depleted after 8–10 seconds of high-intensity activity. But because creatine supplements help you produce more ATP, you can maintain optimal performance for a few seconds longer (Differential response of muscle phosphocreatine to creatine supplementation in young and old subjects
Creatine is one of the best supplements for improving strength and high-intensity exercise performance. It works by increasing your capacity to produce ATP energy.
Impact on Your Brain
Just like your muscles, your brain stores phosphocreatine and requires plenty of ATP for optimal function (Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial
Supplementing may improve the following conditions (Creatine and cyclocreatine attenuate MPTP neurotoxicity
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Ischemic stroke
- Brain or spinal cord injuries
- Motor neuron disease
- Memory and brain function in older adults
Despite the potential benefits of creatine for treating neurological disease, most current research has been performed in animals.
However, one six-month study in children with traumatic brain injury observed a 70% reduction in fatigue and a 50% reduction in dizziness (Prevention of traumatic headache, dizziness and fatigue with creatine administration. A pilot study).
Human research suggests that creatine can also aid older adults, vegetarians and those at risk of neurological diseases (Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals
Vegetarians tend to have low creatine stores because they don’t eat meat, which is the main natural dietary source.
In one study in vegetarians, supplementing caused a 50% improvement in a memory test and a 20% improvement in intelligence test scores (Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial).
Although it can benefit older adults and those with reduced stores, creatine exhibits no effect on brain function in healthy adults (Creatine supplementation does not improve cognitive function in young adults).
Creatine may reduce symptoms and slow the progression of some neurological diseases, although more research in humans is needed.
Other Health Benefits
Research also indicates that creatine may (Effect of oral creatine supplementation on human muscle GLUT4 protein content after immobilization
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Improve muscle function and quality of life in older adults
- Help treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
However, more research in these areas is needed.
Creatine may combat high blood sugar and fatty liver disease, as well as improve muscle function in older adults.
Different Types of Supplements
The most common and well-researched supplement form is called creatine monohydrate.
Many other forms are available, some of which are promoted as superior, though evidence to this effect is lacking ( Comparison of new forms of creatine in raising plasma creatine levels).
Creatine monohydrate is very cheap and is supported by hundreds of studies. Until new research claims otherwise, it seems to be the best option.
The best form of creatine you can take is called creatine monohydrate, which has been used and studied for decades.
Many people who supplement start with a loading phase, which leads to a rapid increase in muscle stores of creatine.
To load with creatine, take 20 grams per day for 5–7 days. This should be split into four 5-gram servings throughout the day.
Absorption may be slightly improved with a carb- or protein-based meal due to the related release of insulin (Carbohydrate ingestion augments creatine retention during creatine feeding in humans).
Following the loading period, take 3–5 grams per day to maintain high levels within your muscles. As there is no benefit to cycling creatine, you can stick with this dosage for a long time.
If you choose not to do the loading phase, you can simply consume 3–5 grams per day. However, it may take 3–4 weeks to maximize your stores (International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise).
Since creatine pulls water into your muscle cells, it is advisable to take it with a glass of water and stay well hydrated throughout the day.
To load with creatine, take 5 grams four times per day for 5–7 days. Then take 3–5 grams per day to maintain levels.
Safety and Side Effects
Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements available, and studies lasting up to four years reveal no negative effects.
One of the most comprehensive studies measured 52 blood markers and observed no adverse effects following 21 months of supplementing.
There is also no evidence that creatine harms the liver and kidneys in healthy people who take normal doses. That said, those with preexisting liver or kidney problems should consult with a doctor before supplementing (Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes
Although people associate creatine with dehydration and cramps, research doesn’t support this link. In fact, studies suggest it can reduce cramps and dehydration during endurance exercise in high heat (Creatine supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury
Creatine exhibits no harmful side effects. Though it’s commonly believed to cause dehydration and cramps, studies don’t support this.
At the end of the day, creatine is one of the cheapest, most effective and safest supplements you can take.
It supports quality of life in older adults, brain health and exercise performance. Vegetarians — who may not obtain enough creatine from their diet — and older adults may find supplementing particularly useful.
Creatine monohydrate is likely the best form. Try out creatine today to see if it works for you.