What is Creatine?
Creatine has been around for a while now and very popular within the muscle building community. Lately it’s been catching the attention of those who are not trying to win a muscle building contest but just want to optimize their health.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in the body, primarily in the muscles. It plays a crucial role in providing energy for muscle contraction during short bursts of intense physical activity, such as weightlifting or sprinting.
In the body, creatine is converted into phosphocreatine, a molecule that helps regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency of cells. This increased ATP production can enhance performance during high-intensity, short-duration activities by providing quick bursts of energy.
Usage and Benefits
Numerous studies, including one conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have demonstrated that creatine supplementation can increase strength and power during resistance training. Athletes often use creatine to improve performance, increase muscle mass, and enhance recovery. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition creatine’s ability to draw water into muscle cells may lead to increased cell volume, stimulating muscle growth. This effect, combined with enhanced protein synthesis, can aid in muscle hypertrophy over time.
One research study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests that creatine may have neuroprotective properties and could potentially benefit cognitive function. Studies exploring its role in conditions like Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury are ongoing but are showing benefits to the brain from the use of creatine. Considering creatine’s potential neuroprotective properties and its role in cellular energy production, some researchers and healthcare professionals speculate that creatine might have indirect benefits for individuals experiencing fatigue, cognitive issues, or muscle weakness as part of their long COVID symptoms.
Creatine levels naturally increase with the consumption of meat. This study wanted to see if vegetarians could increase their levels of creatine with creatine supplementation and they found that supplemental creatine can infact increase creatine in the body, including the brain, to see the same neurological benefits when it comes to memory performance.
Potential Side Effects
Because creatine can draw water into muscle cells there’s potential for causing dehydration. It’s essential to drink plenty of water while using creatine to counteract this effect.
In some cases, individuals may experience stomach discomfort or diarrhea when taking higher doses of creatine.
There have been concerns about creatine affecting kidney function, but extensive research has not found significant adverse effects in healthy individuals.
Getting Started with Creatine
Creatine monohydrate is the most researched and widely used form. Other variations, such as creatine hydrochloride or buffered creatine, exist but may lack sufficient scientific evidence supporting their superiority.
Creatine can be taken at any time of the day. Some prefer consuming it pre or post-workout, while others mix it with meals. Most people can start off with around 3-5 grams a day. Start small to ease your body into it. One of our favorite brands Thorne makes a great creatine that we offer at here at STAT.
Creatine supplementation, when used appropriately, can be a safe and effective way to enhance athletic performance, promote muscle growth, and potentially offer neurological benefits. However, consulting a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen is crucial, especially for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.
Always remember that while creatine has shown numerous benefits, individual responses may vary. Proper hydration and following recommended dosages are key to maximizing its advantages while minimizing potential side effects.