Who Should Take Creatine Supplements?
What is Creatine?
Creatine is an organic acid that our bodies produce naturally, but we can also get creatine by eating protein-rich foods such as meat and fish.
The human body stores creatine within our muscles so that we can have easy access to it for fast, high-intensity movements, such as powerlifting or sprinting.
Why Take Creatine Supplements?
The most common reason people take creatine supplements is to help them achieve bodybuilding goals.
Creatine is an amino acid that naturally helps your body to produce more adenosine triphosphate, (also known as ATP) which is a small molecule that is actually your body’s primary energy source. There has been research that has shown our bodies are only capable of storing enough ATP for 8-10 seconds of high-intensity exercise, after that, it needs to produce new ATP in order for you to continue.
If you are working out and reaching your maximum intensity, your body literally cannot produce enough ATP in order to keep up. This is where creatine supplements come into play, as they can help increase your body’s stores of phosphocreatine – which is an organic compound of creatine and phosphoric acid that is stored within your muscle tissue – to produce new ATP during an intense workout.
This is why creatine is so great for bodybuilders, as the supplements can increase muscle fiber growth 2-3x more than working out without it, as well as double a muscle’s body mass and double the max weight someone can bench press in one rep, according to a 12-week study in weight lifting.
Who Should Take Creatine Supplements?
Creatine supplements are hugely popular among bodybuilders and athletes alike, as it helps them gain muscle, improve their exercise performance and enhance their strength. Creatine also helps you to recover faster between sets, which in turn enhances the amount of work you are able to do during a workout. Over time, this can lead to quicker gains in both size and strength.
If you are not into lifting super-heavy weights, doing HIIT workouts, or eating a mainly vegetarian or vegan diet, then your body probably already creates as much creatine as it already needs.
It is also important to note that creatine is not just beneficial for bodybuilders, highly active vegans and vegetarians might also benefit from the energy boost creatine supplements can provide if they are not getting enough from their diet.
Creatine supplements can also benefit children with rare creatine-metabolizing syndromes who might see some improvements in their symptoms when taking creatine supplements.
How To Take Creatine Supplements
If your goal is to take creatine supplements for bigger, stronger muscles, then the standard protocol is to have a creatine ‘loading period’, which is when you significantly increase your creatine intake for multiple days or weeks.
During this loading period, people usually take 5g of creatine 4x per day. By doing this, you can prime your muscles to increase the amount of creatine they can hold. After this loading period, you can then decrease the amount of creatine you ingest to a maintenance level of 3-5g daily.
It is important to note, however, that there is no need to go overboard with your creatine intake when trying to significantly increase muscle growth, as the maximum amount of creatine your body can hold depends on the amount of muscle mass you have. The more muscle you have, the more creatine your body can store. Generally speaking, the muscle can hold about 2-3 g of creatine per kilogram of muscle mass.
If you’re interested in upping your creatine consumption, you should work with your doctor, dietitian, or fitness instructor, to make sure it’s right for your goals and health history.