Creatine is a supplement that has suffered the wrath of much scaremongering in it’s time. Now I’m not saying that people shouldn’t question a supplement, especially where health and safety is concerned, but in my opinion the benefits that creatine (particularly creatine monohydrate) can have on one’s training and health was overshadowed by the irrational (and often bias) stick it took early on. If you’ve never taken creatine, then rest assured that it’s safe when consumed sensibly and intelligently, and to make matters better…it’s darn effective too! Need more convincing, then hear are 5 reasons to start taking creatine monohydrate:
1.) It increases muscle power because of it’s ability to enhance the resynthesis (manufacture) of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), a key metabolite in energy production. In particular, creatine enhances the production of ATP during anaerobic exercise i.e. exercise without oxygen e.g. 100m sprint or short burst activity such as an explosive bench press.
2.) It increases power endurance, which means that you can exert more power for longer…that’s gotta be good, right!? Via the same mechanisms as mentioned above, creatine is able to increase the rate that your body replenishes ATP meaning you have more energy for longer. The production and use of ATP is a cyclic process, so the longer you can keep the cycle going the better. During high intensity activity the ATP manufacturing process struggles to keep up with use and demand, resulting in fatigue. Your body can generally turnover 2g of creatine a day for normal bodily function, consequently, the supplementation of creatine increases creatine in muscle tissue enhancing ATP output and energy production.
3.) It increases the size of your muscles…need we say anymore? OK I will anyway, but generally the vast majority of people consuming a creatine supplement will be doing so in an attempt to gain size, mass, lean mass, strength and power…so this is a pretty good side effect I think you’ll agree!? Creatine increases muscle mass both in the short and long term, in fact, you can expect to see some increases in size within a week! Yep, within a week creatines osmotic shift (where creatine goes fluid follows) causes fluid to be drawn into the muscle causing a visible swell in the muscle body, as well as drawing nutrients into the muscle for growth in the long term.
4.) Creatine is the most ‘science backed’ supplement there is, so it makes absolute sense to add it to your current supplement regime. More studies have been performed on creatine, partly because of all the scaremongering it received, than any other supplement. The result is that creatine’s ergogenic (ability to increase performance) effect is proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
5.) Creatine supports a positive protein balance over time, meaning creatine’s effects aren’t just limited to muscle power and endurance, it actually enhances your bodies capacity to promote muscle growth. Researchers suggest consuming creatine alongside a protein supplement (try mixing the creatine in with your next protein shake) in order to support the positive protein balance needed to stimulate muscle growth.
So if you were previously sceptical about whether or not you should be consuming creatine, then worry no more about that. All you need to do is make sure you follow the recommended directions of use for creatine which involves a 4 week cycle i.e. consume creatine for 4 weeks, followed by having 4 weeks off from it. For more information on the directions of use of creatine click HERE.
Llewellyn, W, (2009). Sport Supplement Reference Guide. Creatine. FL: Molecular Nutrition LLC.