Creatine Q&A: 5 Common Questions About Creatine

I remember when I was in high school back in the early 1990’s (yes I am that old) when creatine supplements went mainstream. A lot of athletes were taking it or were wanting to take it but didn’t know if it was really safe, what the side effects would be, or even if it would really work. Needless to say, my parents were convinced it was steroids and told me to stay away, but that didn’t last.

Back then, there was no internet, no place I could go to get information on creatine. I didn’t know when to take it, how much to take, or how frequently to take it. That was years ago and now, there is creatine information overload out there. You should have no problem finding what you need to know about creatine. If you are ready to learn what I have learned in the past 20 years about creatine then read on. Remember, this is just basic information, feel free to ask me any other questions about Creatine at the end of the article!

1. What is Creatine?

In 1832 the French Scientist Michel Cheveul first discovered creatine. Fast forward 90 years to when scientists discovered that over 95% of creatine is stored in muscle tissue. The first published report of creatine having bodybuilding effects was The Journal of Biological Chemistry in 1926! Although we’ve known about creatine for quite some time, the first real use of it to enhance performance was the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, Spain.

Our bodies produce creatine naturally to supply energy to our muscles. It is produced in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, and is transported to the body’s muscles through the bloodstream. Once it reaches the muscles, it is converted into phosphocreatine (creatine phosphate). This high-powered metabolite is used to regenerate the muscles’ ultimate energy source, ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

2. How Does Creatine Work?

ATP:

ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism.

Once creatine enters your bloodstream it is converted to creatine phosphate. Creatine phosphate’s role is to replenish the body’s reserves of ATP, the muscles’ ultimate energy source for short, explosive bursts of energy.

If your body does not have an adequate amount of creatine phosphate available, it turns to glycogen. The problem with glycogen is, it takes much longer to be converted into ATP (around 20 seconds).

The goal is to saturate your muscles using a creatine supplement so that more creatine phosphate will be available resulting in more energy, increased weight and raps, and increased lean muscle growth.

3. Who Should Use Creatine?

Creatine is the most widely used diet supplement by athletes. Essentially, anyone looking to increase lean body mass, increase strength, and boost anaerobic performance should supplement with creatine.

4. How Much Creatine Should I Take?

Take 3-6 grams of creatine monohydrate daily for maintenance.

5. What is the Best Creatine to Take?

Richard Kreider, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation and Director of the Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory and Center for Exercise, Nutrition & Preventive Health Research at Baylor University said the following:

“Since creatine has become a popular supplement, there are a number of different forms of creatine that have been marketed (e.g., creatine candy/bars, liquid creatine, creatine gum, creatine citrate, effervescent creatine, etc). Many of these forms of creatine claim to be better than creatine monohydrate. However, no data indicates that any of these forms of creatine increases creatine uptake to the muscle better than creatine monohydrate.”

“The only potential benefits of these different forms of creatine are convenience, supplement variety, and/or taste preferences. The greatest disadvantage, however, is that many of these supplements are more expensive than creatine monohydrate. There is absolutely no evidence that you can take less of these types of supplements (e.g., liquid creatine or effervescent creatine) and get the same benefits than ingesting higher amounts of creatine monohydrate because of less breakdown in the stomach, greater intestinal absorption, faster absorption in the blood, and/or greater muscle uptake.”


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