Creatine 101: An Intro to Creatine

May 29, 2018

Creatine 101: An Intro to Creatine

Creatine is one of the most studied supplements in the world. Funny enough, it's also one of the bestselling. It comes in many forms and gets put into loads of products. But many people don’t even understand what it is or what it does. Just that they should take it to get big. Right? So if you want to know more about creatine, I've answered a few simple questions about it here. 

What is creatine?

First, creatine is a natural amino acid.  Wait a sec. I need to put my nerd glasses on for this part. Okay. Creatine is actually made in the body already. It's part of the process involved with ATP, which is the body's way of providing energy for itself.  Your body works to produce enough ATP so that you can have the energy you need to function.

What is Creatine?

ATP gets stored in your muscles, and then gets pulled out when you need it.  Sometimes it's nice to have a boost to what our bodies can do though. Am I right? So, the next question would be: Why take creatine? 

How does creatine help?

Remember me saying that creatine has been studied a lot? Science has shown that creatine increases strength, endurance, energy levels, and muscle mass. Creatine also reduces recovery time. And that all sounds like good stuff to me.  In short, taking creatine will allow you to work harder and longer in the gym. It'll also help you build mass and become stronger at the same time. 


Aren’t there different types of creatine?

There are lots of different kinds of creatine. In fact, you'd have to use your fingers and your toes to count them all. The most common type is creatine monohydrate. I know it sounds scientific and complex, but it actually isn’t. Creatine monohydrate is the purest form of creatine. It's simple stuff.

Types of Creatine

A lot of supplements use creatine monohydrate as their choice, but not all of them.  Still, it doesn't matter what form of creatine you take. They all work together to deliver maximum results. Some other forms of creatine you might have seen are: creatine ethyl ester, creatine malate, and Kre-Alkalyn®. 

Where do I find creatine other than in supplements?

On average, about half of the creatine in your body comes from the food you eat. Protein-rich meats like beef and fish are prime examples. For every pound of beef, there is approximately 2 grams of creatine. There is a little more than 3 grams in every pound of fish. Mmm. Fish. Chicken and wild game are also good sources of creatine. Seeing as how it's an amino acid stored in the muscles though, meat protein is really the only place to get it. 

Is creatine illegal?

Straight and simple: no, creatine is not illegal. It is not a stimulant or steroid. It's used by athletes in all kinds of different sports and hasn't ever been banned that I know of. It's a natural supplement used to help with increasing performance.

Are Creatine Steroids?

It has not been shown to be dangerous or harmful. So, don’t worry about not passing a drug test when you're taking creatine. You’ll be fine. 

How Do I Take it?

The best way to start is to go through a “loading” phase. For the first five days, take 10-15 grams. This will allow your body’s creatine levels to increase rapidly to the new higher norm. After that, take the regular serving amount of 5 grams every single day. It is vital to keep up with your daily dose to ensure the best results. 

When do I Take Creatine?

Everybody seems to say something different.  The most common time I've heard is to take it right before a workout. Seems like that would make sense, right? Remember those studies? Yup. Again with the studies. I'm all about the science, boys and girls. Those studies have shown that there's no real advantage to taking it just before a workout. Creatine can be taken any time of the day. First thing in the morning? Yup. Lunchtime? Uh huh. How about right before you go to bed? Absolutely.  The only thing that really matters is that you take your full dose. When? Every. Single. Day. That way your creatine levels stay high, and you benefit from everything it has to offer. 


Can I stack creatine with other supplements?

Sure thing. Some recommendations include: beta-alanine, fat burners, protein powder, BCAA’s, and pre-workouts. Stacking supplements with creatine has shown faster and better results in the gym. It's almost one of those things that you shouldn't go without when lifting iron. 

Does creatine cause any issues?

As with most supplements, there can be side effects while taking it. Nothing life-threating or major though. Some of the minor side effects include dehydration and gastrointestinal discomfort.  Some of my pals get occasional muscle cramps too.  You'll want to make sure you drink plenty of water while you're take creatine to help avoid these issues. If the side effects are too much, or don't go away with time, you can always just take less, and you'll probably be good. 

If you still aren’t sure if creatine is the right choice for you, just dive in and give it a go. There are lots of benefits you can get from taking it, and it's pretty cheap to boot. Peace!

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