What is Creatine?
As the 2nd most popular bodybuilding supplement on the market, many people are asking the question What is Creatine? Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body. It was discovered over 100 years ago but only became popular around 15 years ago when new discoveries made it much cheaper to produce synthetically. It is usually sold in the form of creatine monohydrate, which effects the body in several ways (See What does Creatine do?).
Creatine is stored in your muscles as phosphocreatine, or PCr. It helps to fuel the production of ATP, which is the the main supplier of anaerobic energy in our body. Anaerobic energy is used in short bursts such as weightlifting as opposed to Aerobic exercise which uses oxygen, and can provide less energy but for much longer. When ATP is used it loses a phosphate to become ADP (the T and D stand for tri = 3 and di = 2). Phosphocreatine then gives ADP its phosphorous, leaving creatine and ATP as a result.
Creatine is absorbed by our body through our diet and is also created by our body. Many of the health benefits associated with taking additional creatine supplements is due to the benefit of not having to produce your own creatine. This leaves the (Methylation) system which produces it to concentrate on it’s other tasks, which are to clear the body of harmful oxidants. Creatine is present in most meat and fish as it is primarily stored in muscle tissue. Supplementing with Creatine can increase the levels within the muscles to 10 times that which can be achieved through diet alone.
What Does Creatine Do?
Creatine is used by many athletes and semi-professionals because it is one of the most researched, tested and proven bodybuilding supplements available today. It is not banned by most Sports Organisations as it is considered a dietary supplement rather than a muscle gaining hormone such as Steroids. But many people struggle to understand just what does Creatine do?
Creatine’s main use within the body is to aid anaerobic exercise, which is energy created without the use of oxygen. This type of energy is used in short bursts such as weightlifting. Creatine helps to fuel the producer of anaerobic energy, which is ATP (see What is Creatine?). This allows a few extra seconds of strenuous exercise before losing energy. Some studies have shown that higher levels of creatine acts to neutralise the buildup of Lactic Acid. Supplementing with creatine also helps you to recover following periods of intense exercise much quicker and not need to rest for quite as long between training sessions. You may also experience an initial swelling of muscle tissue, as creatine requires water to function properly, it will draw additional water into the muscle cells, making muscles appear larger. This is why many say that you will lose mass once you stop supplementing with creatine, as water levels within the muscle tissue will return to normal during the washout phase.
Some studies have shown that creatine supplementation can lead to new muscle growth even without any exercise, and that it’s presence alone was enough to promote protein synthesis. Creatine also has a variety of health benefits, mostly due to the body’s ability to concentrate it’s creatine production efforts into antioxidant production instead. Here’s a quick recap of some of the answers to the question What does Creatine do?:
- Provide fuel for Anaerobic exertion – sometimes known as fast muscle exercise.
- Aids recovery from intensive training, shortening the period of rest your body requires for maximum gains.
- Neutralises lactic acid buildup.
- Draws additional water into the muscles, (not under the skin as in water retention) making them appear larger.
- Promotes protein synthesis independantly of exercise.
- Allows the bodies own production of creatine to stop and concentrate it’s efforts elsewhere (mostly producing antioxidants).
Creatine Side Effects
Creatine is created naturally by the body, and as such is unlikely to have many side effects associated with it. However, some have been reported and there may be several reasons for this
First of all, the body can only store a certain amount of creatine in the muscles. It is not delivered directly as it needs to be processed into Phosphocreatine (PCr). This is done by the liver. Taking too much can cause liver damage as well as kidney damage, as byproducts are processed by the kidneys.
Some users also experience bloating. This may be due to the swelling of the muscles due to excess water, and some creatine sits outside the muscle cell, but this is more likely to create a ripped look and is not the same as water retention, which is more commonly under the skin.
Misuse is likely to create unwanted side effects and creatine is easily misunderstood. The idea of taking some is good so more must be better does not work for creatine. It must be processed by the body in order to have any effect and the body will reject any it cant process
Drinking plenty of water is essential as some report feelongs of dehydration, probably due to the creatine requiring additional water
Make sure when using powders that all has dissolved in the water as your stomach will reject undisolved
Best Creatine Supplement
This site is dedicated to providing a complete knowledge of creatine so that you can make informed decisions about which is the best creatine supplement for you. Creatine is a highly popular nutritional supplement and is the 2nd most used supplement for athletes after whey protein. Creatine is found naturally within the body, but can be greatly increased by supplementation to levels far beyond those attainable through diet alone. This is why many athletes choose to supplement with it.
Creatine has several effects on the body which are beneficial to athletic performance, but not all athletic activities can be enhanced by Creatine supplementation.
The best creatine supplement for you may depend on a number of factors. You may prefer the taste of one type over all others, or you may find some of the less soluble forms hard to digest. Many other factors will also play a role in your ability to gain from using creatine, such as your diet and lifestyle, or your naturally high levels to begin with. Most people who consider creatine supplements to be inneffective for them can change this fact with changes to their diet or by using it with other supplements
Creatine is transformed by your body into it’s usable form so many other substances are required by your body to do this. Many of the additives and other ingredients found in creatine products are designed to do just that, but often they can be bought separately for far less.
Best Creatine Capsules
Creatine also comes in capsule form for ease of use as opposed to mixing powders which can be a hassle, especially if you are new to bodybuilding. Creatine monohydrate is less effective in capsule form as the large amounts required mean you could be taking over 20 capsules per day, which is a huge hassle and not really cost efficient.
This is why capsules are usually formulated differently from creatine monohydrate powder. The capsules we recommend are Con-Cret from ProMera. The creatine is far more concentrated than in other forms, making just a few capsules per day work much more effectively than they would otherwise. If you’re looking for a creatine supplement that is easiest to take, try Con-Cret, it’s fast, effective and it won’t be any hassle to take it everyday.
Best Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine Ethyl Ester was created as an alternative to Creatine Monohydrate which claims to eliminate the unwanted side effect of bloating outside the muscles which has the same appearance as water bloat. Although there is little scientific evidence that creatine monohydrate causes bloating, it is a side effect which some users claim to experience. If you find that creatine monohydrate is leaving you with a bloated look, then Creatine Ethyl Ester is a good alternative. It has been proven to be slightly less effective than creatine monohydrate, but not nearly as inneffective as some other forms. It also requires a lower dosage than monohydrate, making it slightly easier to use.
Best Creatine Liquid
Kre-Alkalyn is a new formulation of creatine liquid which is PH buffered for maximum efficiency. This is the only form of creatine which will not degrade when stored in liquid. Any other type of Creatine sold in liquid form has already converted into waste products before you even take it! Do not buy creatine in liquid form unless it is Kre-Alkalyn.
Best Creatine Monohydrate Powder
Creatine is most popular in powdered form as it can be taken with other supplements and does not require a large amount of pills to be taken everyday. Micronized creatine has had it’s particles reduced in size to make it more soluble in water. This makes it easier to take as it dissolves more thouroughly than ordinary powder, making it less chalky. This also helps your body to absorb it more effectively, reducing the risk of particles collecting in your intestines causing discomfort. Creatine Monohydrate has been more thoroughly tested than other forms of creatine, and should be used by anyone just starting out with creatine supplementation, as results of other types will only be comparable to your own results with using creatine monohydrate.
Creatine Powder vs Pills
If you’ve already made the decision to supplement with creatine, then congratulations, you have just made a major breakthrough in gaining lean muscle mass. But many questions may still remain; in particular, which is going to be more effective, creatine powder vs pill form. Each have their advantages and each should be considered before making your decision. If there were one clear winner then the other would have no place in the market|would not exist. So what are the main differences between the two
Creatine was first made available in powder form in 1993. It was sold as capsules not long after as some users found the powder to be unnapealing in taste and texture. Since Creatine is not very soluble in water it tends to leave a chalky residue which many find unpleasant. Some users who are not used to using supplements may also find the routine of having to mix a creatine drink up to 4 times a day quite cumbersome|tiresome and prefer the ease of use in taking the capsule form. Professionals and dedicated enthusiasts however, were not finding creatine capsules to be of much use, as to take the same amount as they would powder, required many capsules, reducing convenience and providing an unnecessary extra expense.
While creatine monohydrate remains the most effective and widely tested form of creatine, manufacturers began to explore using other forms such as Creatine Ethyl Ester to remove some of the inconveniences of creatine monohydrate. While Creatine Ethyl Ester is proven to be slightly less effective than Monohydrate, it requires a much smaller dosage to feel it’s full effects, making it much more suited to being used in capsule form
Other advances by manufacturers have also led to Creatine products which are effective with much smaller doses, most notably in products such as Kre-Alkalyn and Con-Cret. This has made it possible to gain similar advantages to powder from a creatine pill than was possible several years ago. So should you opt for a pill instead of the powder? That’s really up to you – if you’ve never tried creatine before you might wish to start out with the most popular and widely tested|proven form which is creatine monohydrate powder. Then when you have some experience of how it works for you, you can judge for yourself wether the manufacturers claims are of any interest to you. After all, it doesn’t mean anything to you if it claims to cure a problem you have never experienced
Jackie Hogan, MS, RD is a registered dietitian based in Los Angeles. She is a member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND-LAD) and the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Practice Group and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Jackie has been featured on Women’s Health, Fitness Magazine, Women’s Fitness, and Men’s Fitness magazine.