Why You Should Be Taking Creatine

Summary

Creatine is the go-to supplement for improving performance in the gym. Not only is it the most effective but it is also the most studied supplement on the market, ensuring its safety. This is why we decided to include Creapure® (the best + purest form of creatine monohydrate) in our intra + post workout supplement: Myocore

Benefits

  • Increased Strength + Power
  • Increased Muscle Mass
  • Improved Physical Performance
  • Improved Cognitive Performance
  • Decreased Mental Fatigue
  • Improved Memory

What is Creatine?

Creatine is an organic compound that is created by our body from three amino acids: arginine, glycine & methionine. It is mostly found in muscles but is also found in the brain. 

It is used to recycle ATP, which is our body’s primary source of energy.

Our body holds about 120 grams of creatine and loses about 2~3 grams of creatine a day though urine, and thus creatine supplementation is necessary to balance the loss in many instances.

Benefits of Creatine

Increased Strength + Power

The primary benefits of creatine is the improvement in strength and power during resistance training. This has been shown numerous times in studies and is one of the most effective supplements to show such effects. Creatine enhances energy production in your body by re-synergizing ATP in your body. ATP or adenosine triphosphate is the energy currency for your cells to function. Usually, your body only stores enough ATP for up to 10 seconds of high intensity exercise. Through the use of Creatine, your body can generate more ATP per second by converting more ADP into ATP.

To summarize one meta-analysis on power improvements by creatine with ALS patients, “[subject was] able to increase a 12% improvement in strength to 20% and able to increase a 12% increase in power to 26% following a training regiment using creatine monohydrate”. However, how well this generalizes to high performance athletes and bodybuilders is uncertain. (4)

Increased Muscle Mass

When paired with resistance training, creatine has also been shown to increase muscle mass in the user through two methods.. Firstly, it pulls more water into your muscle cells, causing them to expand. Additionally, the IGF-1 hormone, which is responsible for promoting muscle growth, is boosted in your body. 

A study on whether creatine supplementation improves muscle glycogen super compensation concluded that a muscle’s glycogen capacity can be impacted by levels of creatine. Essentially, muscle glycogen super compensation is when your muscles can hold more glycogen and appear fuller. Consequently, muscle is able to contract better through the additional energy source. (6)

There provides further evidence for creatine enhancing muscle recovery after muscle damage. However, this is not a high level of protection. (2)

Improved Performance

Some studies on aerobic running have shown a slight increase in performance with creatine use. It also appears to increase anaerobic cardiovascular capacity on lower levels. To elaborate, cardiovascular fitness is measured on how well your heart and lungs can supply oxygen-rich blood to muscle tissues and how well muscles can convert oxygen to produce energy for movement. Improved anaerobic cardiovascular capacity enhances muscle metabolic processes and ultimately benefits your performance. 

Improved Cognitive Performance

Although the studies done on the cognitive benefits of creatine is less extensive than the physical benefits, some studies show promise in its effects.

Some cognitive effects of creatine include increased performance, reduced mental fatigue and improved memory. It allows your body (including organs like the brain) to store more phosphocreatine. This phenomenon allows your brain to be more resistant to neurological diseases. On average, your phosphocreatine storage will increase by 20% after taking 20 grams of creatine daily for 6 consecutive days. 

Decreased Mental Fatigue

In studies testing the effects of creatine after sleep deprivation, less fatigue was reported from the creatine group as opposed to the placebo group. (5)

Improved Memory

Seniors struggle with declining storages of creatine which can affect memory and IQ. Creatine supplements have been proven to improve memory in these cases.

Best Form of Creatine(Monohydrate)

There are many forms of Creatine: Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Hydrochloride, Creatine Ethyl Ester, Buffered Creatine, Liquid Creatine, and Creatine Magnesium Chelate.

Currently on the market, creatine monohydrate is the BEST form of creatine (Creapure being the best form of creatine monohydrate with the purity rate of 99.99%). Being extremely well studied, majority of all creatine studies have been on creatine monohydrate. Due to its extensive studied background, it has the best safety record with no compelling scientific evidence that points to any detrimental effects from short or long term use.

Due to its effectiveness, safety and affordable nature, it is and has been the go to form of creatine for many years. 

How to Consume Creatine

5 Grams a day at any time and 15~20 grams a day for 5-7 days for the loading phase.

If you want to make it more personalized, consume at least 0.03g per kg of body weight everyday. For a 82kg (180lbs) person, this would translate to 2.5g per day. Due to creatine’s cheap nature, most people consume the 5g dosage and the higher dosage may be more beneficial.

Consuming 10g a day may be beneficial for those that have a high amount of muscle mass or are non-respondents to the 5g dosage.

Side Note: We recommend consulting health professionals for long term and higher dosage use of creatine. The following  studies have been conducted to show that long term use of creatine at higher dosages are still safe: 

  • 25 grams daily for up to 2 weeks (1)
  • 4-5 grams daily for up to 18 months (3)
  • 10 grams daily for up to 5 years (7)

Side Note 2: it is not necessary to load creatine. Although, loading 15~20 grams a day for 5-7 days will help saturate the muscles faster. 

Who should take it

Creatine can be taken by anyone looking to improve their performance in the gym or as an athlete. It is not recommended for women who are not in high performance athletics or bodybuilding in addition to children. 

Side Effects of Creatine

  1. Stomach cramps can occur if NOT ENOUGH water is consumed while taking creatine.
  2. Diarrhea & Nausea can occur when consuming TOO MUCH creatine at once. Try spreading the dosage throughout the day with meals.
  3. Weight Gain. Users can experience weight gain due to increased water content of the muscle cells and increased lean mass. The weight gained from creatine will be due to water 

How Does Creatine Work?

Creatine is a molecule produced from amino acids located mostly in your body’s muscles and brain.

It regenerates ADP to ATP by storing high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine. ATP is the primary energy carrier in the body, used especially in high energy situations like intense physical or mental exercise.

Creatine is naturally occurring in red meat and seafood, but it is also created synthetically to help supplement those that are looking to improve athletic performance and increase muscle mass.

The Chemistry behind it:

The muscles are powered through the use of ATP to contract and function. During the power outputs, ATP molecules are hydrolyzed to ADP and inorganic phosphate. An ATP supply diminishes quickly during intensive muscle activity. In order to have a consistent power output, the muscle cells need to regenerate its ATP supply. ATP regeneration is assisted with a molecule called creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine. Creatine phosphate transfers a high-energy phosphate to ADP to re-energize it back to an ATP molecule. Creatinine is produced as a by-product and this waste is removed through the kidney and urinary system. 

What is Creatinine?

When creatine breaks down in your body, creatinine is created as a by product and metabolite of creatine. This small amount of creatinine travels through your bloodstream and is excreted through the kidney and urinary system. 

Is it harmful?

Any supplementation with creatine increases the creatine stored in the body. By taking creatine supplements, you are increasing its levels in the body. This means there are more creatine to be broken down, also resulting in more creatinine as a by product. Supplementation increases concentration of creatinine in the blood and urine. Thus, individuals with greater muscle mass often have higher creatinine levels than those with lower muscle mass. This is usually not a cause for concern since creatinine has not been shown to have a harmful effect on the body. 

You can monitor your creatinine levels in a routine test for renal pathology. Any patient going through this examination should inform their physician of their use of dietary creatine supplement. Higher levels of creatinine in your kidney (renal) and your urinary system as a result of supplementation with creatine are usually considered as safe. 

FAQ

Is Creatine Safe?

Creatine is very safe with only a few minor side effects that can be mitigated or eliminated. The International Society of Sports Nutrition regards creatine as extremely safe. 

Some side effects may include weight gain, dehydration, and cramps. Weight gain can be caused from more water retention in muscle cells. As for dehydration, the theory comes from a shift in cellular water content. However, no research to date has supported this claim. Muscle cramps are affected by the level of hydration or electrolytes in your body. Blood tests from research participants have shown no change in these levels from the intake of creatine. 

In summary, there is currently no definitive research that supports these proposed side effects of creatine. 

Do You Have To Cycle Creatine?

Creatine does not have to be cycled. Studies have shown that continuous long term consumption of creatine has no negative effects.

Who Should Take Creatine?

Creatine can be taken by anyone looking to improve their performance in the gym or as an athlete. It is not recommended for women who are not in high performance athletics or bodybuilding in addition to children. 

When Should I Take Creatine?

Creatine can be taken at anytime, but it can be more effective when consumed post workout.

Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?

Creatine has one link to an increase in DHT – an androgen involved in hair-loss. This has not been replicated since that one instance. As mentioned in the section on Creapure, high quality Creapure contains extremely low levels of DHT and thus minimizes this risk. They do not exceed EFSA recommendations.  

The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) recommends that a creatine product should not exceed:

  • DCD levels of 50 mg/kg
  • DHT levels of 3 mg/kG

Is Creatine a Steroid?

It is not even remotely close to a steroid. It is also approved for most professional sports. 

The chemical definition of a steroid is any compound that possesses a common structural feature of four conjoined cycloalkane rings and particularly 3 cyclohexane rings and a cyclopentane ring.

The social definition of a steroid usually includes compounds that are anabolic (tissue building) in nature and are related to hormones. This includes directly injectable testosterone (with conjugates such as ethanate or cypionate) or compounds that affect testosterone levels, like Winstrol (stanozolol) and  Dianabol (methandrostenolone) 

Creatine is a tripeptide compound. It is made up of three amino acids (L-arginine, L-glycine, and L-methionine). There is no steroid backbone, so it does not align with the chemical definition (note: if you google image the creatine compound, you can see that it has no rings like steroid compounds).Additionally as for the social definition, it does not impact the hormones often influenced by steroids. 

Is Creatine Safe For Your Kidneys?

Creatine has no harmful effects on a healthy kidney, however to date there have not been any studies targeting people with kidney problems.

Creatine supplementation has been known to increase serum creatinine levels during the loading phase. Creatinine is a by product of creatine. However, this cannot be recognized as an indicator of kidney damage.

References

  1. Bender, A., Samtleben, W., Elstner, M., & Klopstock, T. (2008, March). Long-term creatine supplementation is safe in aged patients with Parkinson disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19083405/
  2. Cooke, M. B., Rybalka, E., Williams, A. D., Cribb, P. J., & Hayes, A. (2009, June 02). Creatine supplementation enhances muscle force recovery after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19490606
  3. Kreider, R. B., Melton, C., Rasmussen, C. J., Greenwood, M., Lancaster, S., Cantler, E. C., . . . Almada, A. L. (2003, February). Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12701816/
  4. Mazzini, L., Balzarini, C., Colombo, R., Mora, G., Pastore, I., De Ambrogio, R., & Caligari, M. (2001, October 15). Effects of creatine supplementation on exercise performance and muscular strength in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Preliminary results. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11677005
  5. McMorris, T., Harris, R. C., Swain, J., Corbett, J., Collard, K., Dyson, R. J., . . . Draper, N. (2006, March). Effect of creatine supplementation and sleep deprivation, with mild exercise, on cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood state, and plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16416332
  6. Nelson, A. G., Arnall, D. A., Kokkonen, J., Day, R., & Evans, J. (2001, July). Muscle glycogen supercompensation is enhanced by prior creatine supplementation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11445755
  7. Poortmans, J. R., & Francaux, M. (1999, August). Long-term oral creatine supplementation does not impair renal function in healthy athletes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10449011/
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