Creatine is probably one of the most talked about and researched supplements on the market today. It’s a high-energy molecule found in muscle cells as creatine phosphate.
It’s one of the main sources of energy for our muscles, along with oxygen (when available) and glucose.
Creatine phosphate is used for short, intense bursts of energy. But just to make things clear, it’s not quite like the type of stimulating energy one would feel like when drinking coffee or pre workout, but cellular energy required for our muscles to physically contract and do work.
This is why creatine supplements are so effective. With supplementation, we are replenishing our creatine stores and providing a very favorable energy source for our muscle cells. Supplementation is effective in about 75-80% of the general population, so the odds are in your favor if you’ve never tried creatine before and are interested in giving it a try. Before you do, here’s the lowdown:
- Immediate: Increases in maximal strength and power by as much as 15%
- Cheap AF: You’re getting serious bang for your buck. Creatine is indeed present in whole foods like red meat, however the amount of creatine one would yield from a 12oz steak is tiny compared to the 5-10 grams you could mix into your shake with supplementation.
- Creatine Monohydrate: The most commonly used and studied form of creatine.
- HCl or Buffered: I have used all types, and through personal experience I prefer buffered creatine, just because it seems to provide the best results for me. However, you should experiment on your own and see what works best for you.
- Creatine is a banned substance (specifically in the NCAA): It is most certainly not banned in any level of competition. It’s completely legal, whether you are headed to the Olympics or JV basketball practice.
- It’s harmful: There is no evidence that supplementing with creatine is harmful at all (not even to the kidneys as some may say),
- It’ll make you bloat: There is no evidence of creatine being responsible for bloating. Creatine’s hydrophilic properties (it likes water) causes a slight increase in water uptake in muscle cells, which could result in your muscles looking slightly larger and fuller, but it won’t make your stomach bloat unless you’re taking too much.
** Tip: Also due to its hydrophilic nature, any creatine not taken up by muscle cells will be released through urine, so make sure that if you’re taking creatine on a regular basis, you drink enough water throughout the day. That should go without saying – if you care about your fitness you should be drinking enough water anyway.
Have you used creatine to boost your workouts? What was your experience? Comment below!