Supplements or Nah: Volume 2
You’ve dabbled in Whey Protein, might have even tried some pre-workout but now it’s time to step you supplement game up, is creatine the way forward?
What is creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance, it can be found in the diet mostly through meat and fish (Roughly 3-5g per kg). It is also produced by the kidneys, pancreas and liver. Creatine is stored in the muscle and is a vital component of energy production during high-intensity exercise such as sprinting or lifting weights.
- Well researched and safe – This is fundamental for any supplement you are looking to include in your diet. Creatine is one of the most well researched supplements on the market. While no supplement is completely safe, as mentioned in my blog about protein (Check it out here) creatine has a solid evidence base to demonstrate it’s usefulness and safety
- Increased muscular endurance – Creatine supplementation allows your muscles to resynthesize ATP (the bodies main fuel during high-intensity exercise) more effectively. This means you can pump out more reps per set, meaning progressive overload and serious gains!
- Increased work capacity – Along with getting more reps in a set you are able to recover and maintain this enhanced performance through multiple sets which means you perform more work throughout your workout.
- Increased lean body mass – Creatine = more muscle, the two factors above mean that over time creatine supplementation will allow you to gain more lean body mass and get to your goal physique faster.
- Increased Strength – A larger muscle is usually a stronger one, along with the ability to do more work in your training sessions, creatine supplementation has been proven to increase strength gains.
- Water retention – some people taking creatine can experience rapid weight gain of 1 – 2kg, this weight gain is due to increased water retention in the muscle cells, so if you are trying to cut weight for any reason this is something you should consider.
- Side Effects – Some people experience symptoms such as muscle cramping and stomach pain however these symptoms are not massively common.
- Non-responders – for some people creatine will not elicit the effects described, these are called non-responders, I’m not sure there’s any research to determine what percentage of people this is but it’s widely estimated at around 20-30% of people. So it’s kind of a joy kill if you make the investment and see no gains.
How to supplement creatine?
Firstly, we are referring to oral supplementation, because it’s easy and proven to be effective. Creatine as a supplement is not something you can take once and expect to see the effects immediately you have to do something called ‘Creatine Loading’ this is essentially just increasing the amount of creatine that is stored in the muscle cells.
There are two ways to do this with oral supplementation:
Consume 20g per day (5g x4 throughout the day) for 5 days or;
Consume 3-5d per day for 30 days.
Following this, you need to maintain supplementation (3-5g per day depending on current lean body mass) in order to keep creatine levels elevated.
You should try to take your creatine alongside a carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein containing meal.
In terms of the type of creatine, you should be taking the most studied form is Creatine Monohydrate this is proven to be effective, the science around many other variants is shaky even if the supplement companies do a good job of marketing them. You can get them in both powder form or in tablet form, whichever you find more convenient.
Below are some links to products I’ve tried and would recommend, but there are tons of great products out there and as I said previously creatine monohydrate is the way to go so as long as that’s your main/only ingredient you should be good to go.
Bulk Powders – Pure Creatine Monohydrate 1kg
The Protein Works – Creatine Monohydrate 1kg
MyProtein – Creatine Monohydrate 250 Tablets
Personally, creatine is just about the only supplement I really value, it was the first ever supplement I took and I personally saw the benefits, years later seeing the research, it’s still a supplement I believe in. With a lot of supplements, it’s really hard to prove they work, the research just isn’t there. Or even if there is you would be better off adjusting your diet (Whey Protein for example). However, it’s really difficult to get large amounts of creatine in the diet and we know it works, I think that’s what makes this supplement so great and so trusted.
Let me know what you think? Is creatine in your supplement draw?