Creatine: An explanation!
The deeper you dive into your fitness journey, the more you search for ways to improve your results to allow you to reach your goals in flying form. Some supplements have stood the test of time and it might just seem that everyone is talking about them. And they probably are. Creatine is one of those workout wonders you have probably caught drift of as you overhear conversations between active people at the gym. If your curiosity has got the best of you and you’re wondering what creatine might do to lift your performance, then this article is for you.
What effect does creatine have on the body?
When you supplement on creatine, don’t be surprised if you’re able to lift heavier weights, sprint that little bit harder and make your sets that much longer. That’s because creatine has an interesting relationship with an important molecule that exists in your body by the name of Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP). This molecule is stored in your cells and is the key source of energy for all muscles. In fact, ATP assists in every move you make throughout the day.
Just like those cheesy TV advertisements, ATP is available for “a limited time only”. Let’s say you’re engaged in a high intensity weighted workout. Only so much ATP can be released when you’re at your absolute peak in strength. Say a few seconds. That’s all. However, when creatine and ATP get together, your peak in strength is increased, perhaps a few seconds more, but just enough to allow you to push that much harder and perhaps go one more rep. Creatine helps you get there by safely increasing muscle strength.
But is it natural?
It can be easy to automatically take the skeptical stance when it comes to any kind of product that claims to enhance performance in the gym. But there’s nothing to hide here. Creatine is actually a molecule that exists naturally in your body and can even be obtained through your diet via the likes of red meat, poultry and dairy. Problem is, the body only produces a small amount of creatine from the foods you consume and is excreted daily through your urine.
Supplementing on creatine is a great natural way to top up your levels of creatine and build lean muscle, especially if you’re a vegetarian as it has been found that they have much lower levels of muscle creatine than meat eaters. The most common manufactured supplement goes by the name of creatine monohydrate and is found in many pre-workout powders.
What is the best way to supplement with Creatine?
Although it might sound like creatine can give you automatic superpowers, it is a supplement that must be loaded into your system over a period of time. This is known as cycling. It may be useful to mark down the date you begin taking creatine and take it every day (around the same time each day) for a period of around six weeks. Then stop. You may notice that if you take creatine for too long, there is an opposite effect, in that you might feel a lot more lethargic than usual. This is a sign that your body is actually having trouble absorbing the creatine. Give yourself a rest from creatine for a month, then back into the cycling period of six weeks. You can create your own cycling timeframe based on how your body reacts.
If you’re looking to increase strength, improve overall performance, lose weight or break out of any plateaus in your training, you might find creatine to be an incredibly effective supplement to integrate into your regime. It’s quite refreshing to learn that creatine is completely natural and not in any way foreign to your body. Once consumed, it knows exactly the job it needs to carry out and gets straight to work.
Written by Shannon Davidson
Sports science/nutrition blog writer