Updated: Jan 31, 2020
Creatine is one of the safest, most studied, and effective supplements. It's also one of the most misunderstood.
Many people are unsure of what exactly creatine is. They’ve heard that it’s bad for the kidneys, causes water retention, and it’s dangerous. It’s much easier to remember the negatives but nothing could be further from the truth. Creatine is a cheap, safe, and extremely effective supplement that can take your performance and physique to the next level.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a natural compound found in the body that assists in supplying the body, particularly muscles, with energy. This is done by providing fuel for ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) production. ATP is an energy system used for short bursts of power. In exercise, ATP releases one of it’s high-energy phosphate groups to power muscular contraction. In order to regenerate ATP and provide more energy for more reps and power, creatine comes in to save the day.
Creatine allows for a larger access to these explosive energy stores. Bigger energy stores equals more reps, more power, more volume. In short, you can do more work at a higher level.
The ability to increase work capacity will in turn allow for athlete to gain more muscle mass, strength, and recover faster. It’s everything you could ask for in a supplement.
If It’s so great why the bad press?
No, creatine is not a steroid. It’s incredible how many times I’m asked this question. It is a natural compound. Like most things in life, people will bash the unknown. There has not been a single study that shows creatine to have any negative side effects. As far as bloating goes, an increase in creatine will increase the water that is pulled into your muscles. This is at a cellular level and it’s exactly what you want! A hydrated cell equals a hydrated and more powerful muscle!
What is the best type?
The best bang for your buck and most effective type of creatine is creatine monohydrate. Yes, there are many types but none compare to the effectiveness and price of good old monohydrate. A 6 month to year supply of creatine monohydrate can easily be found for $15-35 online. Flashy labels should not be what sway you in your purchases. Instead, choose a product that lists creatine monohydrate as it’s sole ingredient, is between the price point I suggested, and has been verified as a trusted source. Research has shown that it is safer to go with the big brand/ well known companies. Reason is that they have been tested probably multiple times by individuals or other companies over the years, trying to knock them off their established name recognition. Hence, they are less likely to try and add fillers or alternate nutritional facts.
Creatine Dosing and Loading Protocol
There are two commonly used methods of dosing creatine. The first method involves a loading phase. The loading phase involves taking 10-20g of creatine for 7-14 days. After the loading phase go to a maintenance phase of 3-6g of creatine a day (I’ve always done 5g a day). The second method is taking 3-6g a day from the beginning. Both methods will yield the same results. The loading phase is considered a shortcut to reaching full muscle saturation of creatine stores. If you go with 5g a day from the beginning, you will reach saturation a few weeks later. As stated before, no method is better. I recommend the one that is best for you. Some people may have GI issues with a large dose so the maintenance dose may be best.
This is where most bloggers/trainers/nutritionists would insert the product they recommend. This always makes it feel like what you just read was one big sales pitch. You won’t find that here. I wholeheartedly believe in creatine as a staple. Since I began using creatine it is the one product I make sure I never run out of. It’s cheap, effective, and safe. My strength numbers and stamina are always higher when creatine intake is consistent. It’s amazing how many people are unaware of these benefits. It’s one of the few things we have available to us that improves performance and physique naturally. Hopefully, it will take your training to the next level!