All You Need to Know About Creatine
Creatine is in high demand as one of the world's leading supplements for workout performance and lean muscle mass building. It's no wonder, given the array of undeniable results it provides. From increases in strength and performance to ATP regeneration, creatine provides gains for athletes and weight trainers alike. But the wonders of creatine don't stop there. With its protein pairing bonuses and multiple health benefits to boast of, supplementing with creatine is something you won't want to skimp on.
- What is Creatine?
- Finding Creatine in Your Food Sources
- How Does Creatine Work?
- What is Creatine For?
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Who Benefits from Supplementing with Creatine?
- Creatine and ATP
- Dosing Protocol
- Side Effects of Creatine Supplements
- When Should I Supplement with Creatine?
- How to Introduce Creatine Supplements into your Routine
- Additional Health Benefits of Supplementing with Creatine
- Meeting Dietary Restrictions with Creatine Supplements
- Our Top Recommendation for Vegan-Friendly Creatine
- Common Creatine Myths
What is Creatine?
Numerous studies report on creatine and its incredible performance benefits. Known as potentially the best supplement to build muscle mass, it supports energy production in your muscles during your high-intensity exercises and heavy lifting sessions. Studies show it increases, strengthens, and enhances exercise performance, making it an ideal choice for your workout needs.
What is in Creatine?
Roughly 95% of the body's creatine is in the form of phosphocreatine in the muscles; the remaining five is found in your liver, kidneys, and brain. Creatine possesses similarities with amino acids, and the body produces creatine from three of them:
Arginine is essential in the body's ability to make proteins. This amino acid is known to be beneficial in relieving various health concerns, including high blood pressure, chest pain, and poor blood flow due to narrow blood vessels.
Arginine is converted into nitric oxide within the body. Nitric oxide is what allows the blood vessels to widen to support blood flow improvements. Arginine is also credited with stimulating the release of insulin and growth hormone.
Methionine can be found within your body's organs and tissues and produces essential molecules within your body to support your cells’ proper functioning. It can also be converted into a sulfur-containing molecule as a building block for protein, providing protection to tissues and supporting cell function. This amino acid is also responsible for beginning the process of building new proteins inside your cells as older ones break down.
Glycine plays a role in transmitting chemical signals within the brain. Glycine is also credited with supporting healthy brain functions and bone health. It supports the maintenance of tissues, growth, and the production of enzymes and hormones. Glycine helps create the powerful antioxidant glutathione, which protects cells against oxidative damage inflicted by free radicals. Without adequate levels of glutathione, the body has difficulty handling oxidative stress over prolonged periods.
Finding Creatine in Your Food Sources
Along with the creatine produced by the body, you can also find creatine in your food sources, including meat, eggs, and fish. However, your body can handle higher creatine levels than what we naturally produce and consume through food and supplements.
The daily recommendation of creatine is three to five grams, yet to fulfill that, you would need to consume an equivalent of two and a half pounds of beef each day. Does this seem like a challenge you want to take on? If not, using creatine supplements is a more practical way to get your daily dose and reach your health and fitness goals.
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine plays a role in supporting the increase of energy capacity in your muscles. Creatine acts as a binder in your muscles, allowing it to store more energy. This binding results in immediate energy storage, helping you pump out those last few reps to get the most from your workout.
Supplementing with creatine can support new muscle growth by altering numerous cellular pathways and aiding the formation of proteins to create new muscle fibres. In as little as five to seven days, most athletes and bodybuilders see a significant increase in their muscle size and lean body weight.
What is Creatine For?
There are many great uses and benefits to supplementing with creatine. When you familiarize yourself with what is in creatine and select a high-quality product, you will reap the rewards. When we are asked what creatine is for, we often share these top benefits and uses:
- Boosting your workload: Creatine helps increase your volume in a single training session. It is a vital component in producing long-term muscle growth.
- Improving cell signals: It helps by increasing satellite cell signaling, supporting new muscle growth, and repairing muscles.
- Raising your anabolic hormones: Hormones, including IGF-1, show an influx of creatine. IGF-1 is the I, or insulin-like growth factor-1, is the hormone that supports the development of healthy tissue and bone growth, along with GH or growth hormone.
- Increasing cell hydration: It is also known to support muscle growth by lifting the water content in muscle cells and increasing the water content in your muscle cells.
- Reducing the breakdown of protein: Creatine may play a significant role in increasing your total muscle mass by reducing the breakdown of muscle.
- Lowering myostatin levels: When higher protein myostatin levels are present, they may cause slowing or completely prevent new muscle growth. By utilizing creatine supplements, you support the reduction of myostatin levels while boosting your potential muscle growth.
- Increases strength: Creatine increases performance, endurance, and strength for beginners and seasoned lifters alike.
- Enhances performance: Your overall athletic performance is enhanced when supplementing with creatine. This enhancement is due to the increase in ATP creation to help athletes maintain longer optimal performance.
- Muscle growth: Creatine is known for its incredible benefits as a long- and short-term muscle growth supporter. Studies have even shown that people who do not exercise regularly can still increase their muscle mass by supplementing with creatine.
- Supporting cognitive health: Brain health is another benefit of supplementing with creatine. It works to boost the body’s production of ATP and aid in its storage of phosphocreatine. Supplementing with creatine also helps decrease brain fog while supporting focus and memory.
While there are several forms of creatine, the most common you will see is creatine monohydrate. It is both cost-efficient and highly effective. The Allmax Creatine Monohydrate is easily the top muscle-building supplement in the world! With hundreds of studies to back its remarkable results, users agree it delivers incredible muscle build and strength. What is in creatine from Allmax that makes it so popular? Each serving of Allmax Creatine supplies five grams of pure micronized creatine monohydrate. It’s also the most studied nutritional supplement in the world, yielding unmatched results in effectiveness and safety. Athletes love this sports compound for its reputation in purity and high-quality. Allmax Creatine Monohydrate provides:
- strength and recovery support
- improvements in performance
- lean muscle mass support
- stimulates protein synthesis
- increases endurance and energy levels to support your high-intensity sessions
- can be used as a post-workout supplement
Perfect Sports Micronized Creatine is another excellent creatine supplement known for producing creatine micro-particles that are up to twenty times smaller than your typical creatine powder. Micronized creatine allows for quicker absorption, making it much more efficient. Perfect Sports' Micronized Creatine helps:
- significantly increases lean muscle mass gains
- improves your workout performance
- enhances your overall strength and power
- increases cell volumization
- prevents ATP depletion
- stimulates protein synthesis
Who Benefits from Supplementing with Creatine?
Creatine is a popular supplement among various athletes and bodybuilders for good reason. Supplementing with creatine supports their efforts by increasing their desired muscle gain, enhancing strength, and supporting improvements in their overall exercise performance. Creatine is also known to provide bursts of speed and energy, particularly beneficial in high-intensity activities. Athletes also use creatine for its reputation for supporting quick muscle recovery and helping prevent muscle damage.
Supplementing with creatine is commonly used amongst bodybuilders. As one study showed, creatine supplements can increase muscle fibre growth more than training without them. The supplements may also double a muscle’s body mass and double the maximum weight a bodybuilder can bench press in a single repetition.
Creatine may even create an antioxidant effect following intense resistance training sessions. The assistance in reducing cramping is definitely a win for athletes.
Creatine and ATP
Creatine supplements help the body store phosphocreatine, a form of energy kept within the cells. It is known to support your body in producing the high-energy molecule ATP. Many refer to ATP as the primary energy currency of the body during weight training and high-intensity workouts. When ATP levels increase, your body performs better.
- brain performance
- muscle endurance
- resistance to fatigue
- muscle mass
- increased recovery time
- ballistic power
- sprint ability
ATP encourages quicker recovery time in between sets. As the primary source of anaerobic energy, you will up your game during your high-intensity workouts. Your body will utilize ATP from muscle stores first, but your body has a set amount of creatine in its muscles. ATP production can run out quickly, causing fatigue and, eventually, even muscle failure. Upon depletion, your body starts generating more ATP. With your high-intensity workouts, the additional production of ATP will occur with the breaking down of phosphocreatine in your muscles.
If you’re searching for a supplement to support ATP production, we suggest looking into the creatine supplement, Creactor. Its higher ATP levels serve as your storage reservoir for the regeneration of ATP. With higher ATP levels, you'll work harder, longer and gain results faster.
One 12-week study reports weightlifters seeing an increase in their muscle fibre growth from creatine supplements. This increase was two to three times greater than growth reports while training without creatine supplements.
A separate study shows remarkable results from supplementing with creatine. By maintaining training and strength performance with creatine, athletes saw significant muscle mass increases during intense periods of over-training.
Supplementing with creatine also supports those who are sedentary and older individuals. Creatine offers increases in strength, endurance, and performance in these individuals to help improve their overall health and wellness.
It's essential to recognize the dosing protocol that comes with supplementing with creatine. It's one of the only sports supplements you'll find with a dosing protocol, so we want to help you understand the process to ensure optimal results. Following these protocols will help you achieve your goals and benefits quickly and safely while helping you combat the potential side effects of creatine supplements. Let’s examine the loading phase, the maintenance phase, and how they can benefit you.
The Loading Phase
When you first begin supplementing with creatine, it is recommended you start with twenty grams a day for your first week. You may even want to consider breaking up the twenty grams of creatine supplement into four serving sizes of five grams each and spreading them throughout your day. For some users, evenly distributing the dosages throughout the day helps alleviate any unpleasant side effects from creatine supplements.
The Maintenance Phase
Following your one-week loading phase, you will enter the maintenance phase. Take three to five grams of your creatine supplement each day. Follow this guideline for the remainder of the time you supplement with creatine. If you should experience a lapse in your supplement or pause training, you can return to the loading phase and begin the process again.
Is the Dosing Protocol Necessary?
While following the dosing protocol is only a recommendation, many find it helps ease them into supplementing with creatine to avoid unpleasant side effects creatine supplements may cause. If you choose not to begin with the loading phase, you can always decrease your dose if you begin to experience side effects from your creatine supplement. It's worth noting that skipping the loading phase may also add an additional three to four weeks for your muscles to store and produce the benefits.
Side Effects of Creatine Supplements
While supplementing with creatine is safe, there can be unpleasant side effects from creatine that you should be aware of. The majority of side effects from creatine supplements are experienced during the loading phase or by those who jump straight into the maintenance phase without utilizing the dosing protocol. The intake of larger doses tends to cause an increase in the severity of side effects creatine supplements can cause.
Side effects of creatine supplements may include:
- bloating or water retention
- sensitivity to heat
- low-grade fever
- weight gain
Drug Interaction Side Effects with Creatine Supplements
Combining creatine supplements and some NSAIDs, including naproxen and ibuprofen, may lead to kidney concerns.
Supplementing with creatine paired with caffeine may lower the supplement’s effectiveness. While many pre-workout supplements are made with caffeine stimulants, you may see a decline in results. Most importantly, combining your creatine supplements with caffeine and ephedra poses severe stroke risks.
We always advise consulting your physician if you are currently on medication that may produce unwanted side effects with creatine supplement use.
When Should I Supplement with Creatine?
While you may find some debate on the appropriate time to take your creatine supplements, here are some helpful guidelines on the ways and best times to help meet your needs:
How to Introduce Creatine Supplements into Your Routine
If you're just starting with a creatine supplement, we have some quick tips on incorporating it into your routine to help boost your muscles' creatine levels quickly.
Supplementing with Creatine and Pairing with Exercise
Using your creatine supplement is ideal for both exercise and rest days. If it's an exercise day, there are three options you can choose from for optimal results:
- just before you begin to exercise
- following your exercise routine
- split up your daily intake and take it throughout the day
In a search for the best results for intake, one study noted more increases in lean mass with a more significant decrease in fat mass in the group who took creatine after their exercise. Still, other studies were unable to show substantial enough differences to form a universal conclusion. Our recommendation is to start off following the recommendations on your brand’s product and adjust as your needs and goals require.
A ten-week study using a supplement containing creatine, protein, and carbs was able to show a notable difference in a group of weight trainers who were in the study. When group A took the creatine, protein, carb supplement shortly before and after their workouts, their strength and muscle gains were more significant than those in group B, who took the supplement in the morning and at night. Keep in mind, creatine also makes an excellent post-workout supplement, so there are certainly benefits to trying all recommendations to see what works best for your body.
Supplementing with Creatine on Non-Exercise Days
Your creatine supplement intake on your days off from working out is much less time sensitive. Continuing to take your supplements on your days of rest will help maintain your muscles' creatine levels.
Creatine and Whey Protein: What You Should Know
Many people often ask if creatine and protein supplements can or should be used in combination as part of their daily routine. The answer is absolutely! While you may notice creatine and protein have similar effects, they achieve these results in different ways due to their unique molecular structuring:
-Creatine will increase your strength and muscle mass by boosting your exercise capacity.
-Whey protein will increase them by stimulating and promoting muscle protein synthesis.
Supplementing with Creatine Alone
Creatine is an organic compound your body produces naturally in your muscle cells. When you supplement with creatine, it helps boost strength, endurance, muscle mass, and overall exercise performance. By increasing your phosphocreatine stores within your muscles, the molecule supports energy production during short-duration muscular contractions or pumps.
Adding Whey Protein Powder to Your Creatine Supplement
One of the main proteins found in dairy products is whey. A by-product of cheese production, its powder form is the result of isolation. Whey protein offers the highest quality of protein by far. Its significant results make it a favourite amongst weight trainers and athletes. When you utilize whey protein supplements, you benefit from:
- quicker recovery time
- an increase in muscle mass
- an increase in strength
- improvements in the muscular function
- a boost in power and endurance
Allmax Impact Igniter is a fantastic option for your pre-workout needs. It changes the way your body handles the breakdown of fat. Upon breakdown, it moves through your bloodstream, allowing your body to burn it for fuel.
The Allmax Impact Igniter provides you with:
- a boost in strength, endurance, reps, and recovery
- muscle swelling pump activation
- an increase in metabolism
Protein is essential after your resistance exercise, allowing for maximum muscle building. Supplementing with whey protein powder provides an efficient method to meet your daily protein recommendations and your workout goals.
Supplementing with Creatine and Pairing with Whey Protein
Supplementing with creatine and whey protein powder together helps to quickly increase muscle mass when you pair it with your resistance exercises. This quick build is possible because supplementing with creatine will boost your exercise capacity during your high-intensity workouts and help speed your recovery time. Just as importantly, consuming whey protein with your creatine while in combination with exercise is ideal. This combination gives your body an incredibly high-quality source of protein, enhances muscle protein synthesis, and primes your body for long-term muscle growth.
Additional Health Benefits of Supplementing with Creatine
Adding creatine supplements to your diet comes with a long list of additional health benefits. Creatine supplements increase phosphocreatine stores in your brain, which may improve brain health and prevent neurological diseases. Since the brain stores phosphocreatine, it requires the necessary amounts of ATP to reach optimal functioning levels. When meeting these needs, creatine supplements show health benefits in areas including:
- Parkinson's disease
- Huntington's disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- brain or spinal cord injuries
- Ischemic stroke
- motor neuron disease
- memory and brain function in older adults over sixty-five
Studies also show that creatine supplements may help improve the overall quality of life for older adults, support the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and lower blood sugar levels.
Creatine and Traumatic Brain Injury
A study of children with a traumatic brain injury was able to observe improvements from creatine, including:
- a 70% reduction in fatigue
- a 50% reduction in dizziness
Creatine and Type 2 Diabetes
Several studies support creatine’s ability to improve glycemic control, positively affecting people with Type 2 diabetes. As seen with weight trainers, insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake into the cells increases as they experience frequent muscle contractions. As muscle tissue contracts, GLUT-4, or translocate glucose transporters work their way to the muscle cells' surface. GLUT-4 assists in moving glucose out of the bloodstream, depositing it into the muscle cells. Following strength training, those living with Type 2 diabetes show an increase in GLUT-4 activity, assisting in lowering their blood glucose.
Creatine and Muscular Dystrophy
Creatine has shown promise in improving the strength of patients with muscular dystrophy. Along with increasing strength, it helped reduce fatigue when taken for eight to sixteen weeks during a study.
Creatine and Depression
Supplementing with creatine has also yielded promising results in female patients diagnosed with depression. Creatine may provide therapeutic benefits when used in conjunction with anti-depressants.
Creatine and Multiple Sclerosis
Creatine has helped increase the strength of patients with Multiple Sclerosis. Research data has also noted its possible protection of nerve cells and nerve damage known to plague MS patients. Some patients report experiencing a decrease in muscle fatigue while noticing improvements in strength. These improvements were enhanced by their ability to reengage in light exercise while supplementing with creatine.
Meeting Dietary Restrictions with Creatine Supplements
We often have clients who are concerned about what is in creatine supplements and if it meets their needs. We are happy to say we offer several vegetarian and vegan-friendly creatine options to support your workout goals and needs.
Meeting Vegetarian Supplement Needs
The vegetarian lifestyle requires the absence of meat, reducing the amount of creatine the average person consumes. Since red meat offers a significant source of creatine, vegetarians who add supplements of creatine can boost their amino acid intake without worry. In fact, studies have shown a fifty percent improvement in the memory testing scores of vegetarians willing to supplement with creatine and a twenty percent improvement in their intelligence scores.
Meeting Vegan Supplement Needs
The vegan lifestyle requires the absence of all animal products, yet whole food sources of creatine are primarily animal products. Supplementing with creatine can support the needs of vegan athletes while also helping them fulfill vitamin D, vitamin B12, and DHA, and EPA omega fatty acids requirements.
Supplementing Creatine in a Vegan Diet
It's essential to supplement creatine in your vegan lifestyle whether you're an athlete or not. A lack of creatine may cause:
- poor focus
- brain fog
- muscle weakness or fatigue
- low muscle mass
- kidney issues
- liver issues
Selecting vegan-friendly creatine supplements can offer tremendous benefits. Vegan athletes, in particular, will find supplementing with creatine will yield noticeable improvements in various areas, including:
- muscle mass increases
- improved athletic performance
- regulated blood sugar levels
- reduced mental fatigue
- enhanced cognitive function
Our Top Recommendation for Vegan-Friendly Creatine
As you'll recall, the most common creatine is monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate offers vegan athletes a supplement option that aligns perfectly with their dietary needs. The vegan-friendly supplement is created by combining the amino acid sarcosine and the crystalline organic compound cyanamide. Sarcosine inhibits the transporter GlyT1 from taking up D-serine and glycine into cells. This process allows D-serine and glycine levels to increase and provide support to the body.
We highly recommend the 100% synthetic monohydrate supplement Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine. The product is free of animal products and unnecessary fillers. With zero carbs and zero calories, this unflavoured creatine supplement will support your body’s ATP recycling to provide better, longer workouts.
Common Creatine Myths
Creatine is one of the most popular supplements for athletes and has been thoroughly researched for safety and effectiveness. Due to some common misconceptions, we'd like to clarify any myths you may have heard about the safety and effectiveness of supplementing with creatine.
Creatine and the Kidneys
One common misconception is the detrimental effects that supplementing with creatine can on the kidneys. It has been said that damage to the kidneys can be done when blood creatinine levels increase. However, research has shown little change in renal activity with the use of high creatine supplement doses. While it is recommended that those with existing kidney concerns consult their physicians before adding creatine or any supplements to their routine, there seems to be no support to this myth.
Teens Beware! Creatine Will Stunt Your Growth!
If you recall, the body naturally produces creatine, making the stunted growth claim a bit impractical, right? The biomolecule is also found in a variety of food sources humans regularly consume without stunting the growth of teens or adults, for that matter.
Creatine Supplements Are Just Steroids
Remember that question we answered earlier: what is creatine? Creatine is an amino acid. It is safe, natural, and legal, with no ties to steroids or their harmful side effects.
If you're ready to get serious about your muscle-building goals, we strongly recommend adding protein and creatine supplements that complement your needs. Do your research and select brands that are trusted; check what is in creatine supplements you’re considering and find the creatine product that's right for you today!