How would you like to lift heavier, train harder and recover faster? If you think this sounds too good to be true, you obviously don’t know about creatine…

Creatine is undoubtedly the most comprehensively researched supplement available on the commercial market. It has been scrutinised to the enth degree in hundreds of clinical studies and research projects, nearly all of which have concluded that no other supplement is as beneficial for increasing lean muscle mass, improving energy levels, enhancing muscle strength (and size), and improving overall exercise performance as this chemical ‘king of the jungle’.

Despite all this though, it is still the case that most lifters know less about creatine than they do about more high-profile supplements like whey and casein.

Here’s everything you need to know…

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a nitrogenous (i.e. it contains nitrogen) organic acid, which is made in the body from a combination of three amino acids (the building blocks of protein). It is derived from food, mostly through meats like beef and fish, and is stored chiefly within skeletal muscle. The main role of creatine is to help supply all of the cells in your body with energy.

Why Should I Use Creatine?

The creatine stored within your skeletal muscle exists as creatine phosphate. However, certain molecular processes cause this creatine to break down into phosphocreatine, a molecule that serves as a storage reservoir for generating (and regenerating) something called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is essentially the chemical source of energy that muscles use to contract and function at speed. Ingesting creatine supplements increases the pool of creatine within a cell, thereby allowing more ATP to be replenished and greater energy reserves to be stored within your muscle tissue. This results in you being able to train harder at higher intensities, perform more reps and sets, lift heavier loads, and generate more explosive power. In addition, creatine supplementation can also help to engender faster recovery times.

Who Should Take Creatine?

Creatine is almost exclusively designed for (and marketed toward) individuals who are looking to enhance their rate of muscle growth and increase power output. Ergo, anyone who is keen to achieve goals like getting bigger and stronger, and perhaps even lifting longer and heavier, will find it beneficial to supplement with creatine. Individuals who are looking primarily to lose weight should avoid buying creatine supplements – creatine has no significant effect on fat loss.

When Should I Take Creatine?

Studies have shown that creatine can remain effective within the body several weeks after you’ve stopped taking it. This means that, essentially, it doesn’t really matter when you consume it, so you’re at liberty to take it whenever you feel like it. That being said, it is fair to say most lifters these days choose to take it before and after a workout (often with a liquid protein and carbohydrate drink), as well as first thing in the morning on non-training days.

How Should I Take Creatine?

Up until relatively recently, it was thought that weightlifters and bodybuilders had to cycle their supplementation of creatine in order to achieve the best results. However, it is now believed that these cycling strategies (typically one-week loading, three-weeks maintenance, and one to two-weeks off) offer no
significant advantages over standard supplementation. For most people, taking 3-5g of plain creatine monohydrate powder per day, every day is a good rule of thumb to follow.

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