More Popular Than Ever
You cannot discard your supplements anymore, and they are more popular than ever. Next time when you’re in the gym, look to your left, and we guarantee you’ll spot at least a couple of people with a gym shaker bottle nearby! And on your right, someone’s bound to have an energy or protein bar in hand. Heck, some gyms are even storing the latest supplements right there at the check-in counter.
Bulk up Lean Muscle Mass
One nutrient supplement that’s been on the circuit for a while now, but as of late is bulking up, a lot of people’s workout schedules is creatine. Studies estimate that nearly $14 million is spent per year by Americans on creatine supplements, all in an attempt to bulk up lean muscle mass and lifting performance.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a vital amino acid that is both generated in the body (nearly 50% worth) by the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and, as well as obtained from foods such as chicken, beef, fish, and pork. As you’ve likely predicted, creatine levels are found to be low in vegans and vegetarians. Luckily, you can get your fill of this amino via supplements — capsules, powders, or as components of shakes and fitness bars. In some instances, the creatine can be laboratory-produced.
[Read: Creatine for Weight Loss]
Benefits of Creatine : What Purpose Does It Serve?
Speed and power:
Sprinters have been found to slash a few seconds off their time when including creatine supplements in their fitness regimen. Weightlifters have shown improved performance when exploding through more substantial strength-building techniques. Creatine serves little purpose in endurance style training. It’s more about quick, profound changes.
Muscle strength and mass:
There’s a reason bodybuilders have this thing in their gym bags. A steady creatine regimen may produce mass build-up (primarily due to water retention) while improving stamina.
The focus that comes from enhancing your diet with creatine translates from agility workouts in the gym to projects at the workplace.
[Read: Tips for Lowering Creatinine Levels]
Varied health conditions:
Creatine may benefit those living with muscular dystrophy(1), depression, movement disorders, and cardiovascular diseases. Keep in mind; if you’re someone who already has a decent substantial reserve of creatine in your muscles, you may not feel the raise when increasing the supplement intake. To find out where your levels stand at, consult your physician for a full blood profile.
Is it effective?
While some scientists have drawn a ‘yes, it’s effective’ conclusion on the use of creatine supplements, others are still unsure.
What most agree on though is:
- It’s useful for power, speed, and strength training. As well as hypertrophy(2) (muscle mass building).
- It’s not sufficient for endurance training.
- It’s valid for 20 somethings.
- It’s not useful for individuals 60 years and older.
- Loading – 20 grams daily for five days – may be an effective use of the supplement.
- It’s more useful for vegetarians and vegans, as opposed to meat-eaters or conditioned athletes.
- However, it comes down to you and your fitness goals.
What forms does it come in? Which is the most effective?
Creatine comes in tablet/capsule powder, chews, fitness bars, and shake/drink forms. Again, it depends on the fitness and individual goals, as well as the dosage, when it comes to the level of effectiveness.
When should creatine be taken?
This supplement should be popped up half an hour before the planned fitness activity or exercise. Since creatine absorbs better when combined with carbs, you may want to opt for a pre-prepared shake or drink with a creatine component.
A typical dose is 5 grams, four times a day for 2-5 days. It would help if you were consuming nearly 64 ounces of water daily when taking a creatine supplement as the muscles will draw water throughout your body. It should be taken in cycles and for not more than three weeks when on a daily regimen(3).
What are the downsides of taking creatine?
There aren’t that many downsides to this supplement, and however, side effects can include liver dysfunction, kidney damage, reduction in natural creatine production, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, diarrhea, dizziness, and weight gain. Most side effects typically appear after six months on creatine, that’s the reason why creatine should be used in cycles.
Do not exercise in a hot climate
You’ll also want to steer clear of caffeine intake within 5 hours of supplementing with creatine, due to side reactions, such as stroke. And do not exercise in a hot climate when taking this supplement, as per the risk of dehydration.
Avoid use if you have diabetes, are pregnant, high blood pressure, or liver or kidney disease. Consult your physician first if you are on any medications.