In A Nutshell: Creatine is a workout supplement that improves muscle strength and size, as well as provides extra energy. This is particularly relevant to men who want to improve their body strength and stamina.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is normally derived from meat and fish, but it is also produced naturally in our kidneys and liver and is then stored in our muscles. We use this creatine as an energy source that boosts muscle growth and strength. It also gives additional adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which our muscles use for energy, growth, and regeneration.
The supplement comes in capsule form that is easy to swallow. If your muscles are able to contract easily without pain or stiffness, then creatine within the body may be responsible for this. However, you may find that taking a creatine supplement will help you to retain this amount of flexibility and that it will enhance your muscle performance.
Uses of Creatine
The main use of creatine as a supplement is to build up lean body mass and provide quick, short bursts of energy. It is great for short, intense, and repetitive exercises, such as weight lifting, but is not as good for drawn-out aerobic exercises, such as endurance or long-distance running.
Creatine is also very effective in speeding up the recovery and growth of muscles after a workout.
Creatine may also possibly boost testosterone levels, lower cholesterol levels, and help in the treatment of chronic heart diseases, including congestive heart failure. In these cases, it is of course relevant that you discuss your current condition with your general practitioner and get his or her approval for taking creatine in your particular case.
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Form and Dosage of Creatine
The recommended creatine dosage is 3 to 10 grams per day, usually after a workout. It may also be taken together with a protein shake, before or during a workout.
Trainers and coaches used to prescribe a “loading dose” of 20 grams per day for about one week at the very start of an exercise program. This is then later reduced to the usual 5 to 10 grams per day.
The idea is to initially infuse the muscles with generous amounts of creatine, which become stored in them for future use. However, this practice has been mostly discontinued, as it has been found that a loading dose isn’t actually necessary.
Creatine is taken orally, in pill, capsule, or powder form.
Safety and Precautions of Creatine
Creatine supplementation is generally safe and produces no harmful side effects. However, there are rare cases of allergic reaction, similar to that seen in people with asthma. You may also find that at the beginning of taking creatine, you may suffer from water retention, although this evens out as you continue to take the supplement.
When supplementing with creatine, you need to drink plenty of water. Creatine pulls water into the muscles, and plenty of water is needed to avoid dehydration. This is a particularly useful supplement for those who know that they drink too much coffee or tea because it will encourage you to drink more water because this is needed to work its way toward muscles.
Make sure, therefore, that you decrease your caffeine intake and increase your water intake to allow for this adjustment and for the water retention that may be experienced. This will prevent muscular cramps.
Try to avoid taking caffeine-based drinks and creatine together. Caffeine is a diuretic that causes our bodies to excrete water from our bodies, which may decrease the benefits of creatine. In fact, if you are taking supplements, always distance the taking of supplements from the intake of coffee, and minimize your coffee and tea intake.
Those who are taking blood pressure medications are cautioned away from creatine use, as this supplement lowers blood sugar levels. Discuss this with your doctor because, in your case, this may not make any difference. It all depends upon your own individual blood test results.
You are advised against taking creatine on an empty stomach, as those who have reported problems with their digestive tract – and that’s only 7% – tended to take too much and at the wrong times.
In the case of taking creatine, talk to your doctor first, and then respect the dosage and instructions on the pack, which are specifically aimed at helping you to make the most of this popular and efficient supplement.
There are myths that creatine leads to weight gain, but this is not true. The reason that these myths may be popular is because of the initial effect of water retention making the user feel bloated at first.
However, this bloating effect disappears after regular use. It is simply the way that the product works, and you will get to overcome this initial side effect.