Creatine is a natural compound the body produces in the pancreas, kidneys and liver. The bloodstream carries the creatine to your muscles, where it converts into phosphocreatine.
This substance helps to increase the amount of Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP) available in your system. ATP is an energy source for muscles. The goal when adding a creatine supplement to your diet is primarily to prevent premature muscle fatigue, so you can work out harder for longer.
The benefits of Creatine
Creatine helps the body function better in several ways, including:
Boosting energy and extending training capacity
Increasing muscle mass
Working as an antioxidant to assist with muscle repair
Regulating calcium levels
Improving sporting performance
Because creatine helps boost strength, build muscle mass, and increase endurance, it is of particular use to bodybuilders, powerlifters, and endurance athletes. But it can also be beneficial to anybody who is physically active and looking to improve their performance.
Types of Creatine Supplements
There are different types of creatine supplements available.
1) Creatine Monohydrate. The oldest and most tried and tested form of creatine supplement, it’s also the cheapest. It is composed of 88% creatine and 12% water.
2) Creatine Ethyl Ester. Designed to be more easily absorbed and gentler on the stomach, this supplement combines ester with creatine monohydrate.
3) Kre-alkalyn. This is pH buffered creatine. It’s formulated to resist breakdown during digestion and reduce the need for front loading.
Other creatine supplements mix creatine with carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
For the sake of convenience, creatine supplements come in powder form (fast acting), pills and capsules (convenient and easy to take), as a sports drink (often flavoured), and even as a chewable gum.
Creatine Supplements Vs. Food
Eating normally allows you to store around 120 g of creatine, but our bodies actually have the capacity to store 160 g.
Taking a supplement is one way to help your muscles to top up their store, maximising their potential for exercise. To assimilate 5 g of creatine via a food source, you would need to eat the equivalent of 4 x 10 oz steaks – that’s on top of your usual diet. During the loading phase, where you build up your creatine levels, you would need to eat 16 x 10 oz steaks per day.
Creatine supplements are also a great source of creatine for vegetarians and vegans, who might not get a sufficient supply through diet alone.
How to use Creatine
Always check the quality of the creatine you buy – and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. A typical creatine supplement like Matrix Hardcore Creatine Powder is taken in two phases:
20 g per day for 5 days (at 4 x 5 g throughout day) or, 25gms per day for 4 days (at 5 x 5 g throughout day).
5 g per day (one slightly heaped 5 ml teaspoon approximately) for 7- 10 weeks with two – three weeks off before re-loading and maintaining.
Should I take Creatine?
A creatine supplement provides an easy way to supply the extra energy your muscles need. Whether or not you should take it depends on you and your goals; if you want to build muscle and improve performance, then it is worth seriously considering.