Creatine SupplementationJune 26, 2018
We’ve reached an age where human beings have almost certainly engineered everything around themselves to near perfection for the service of mankind. There are self-driving cars, complex machines used in various industries or even advanced medicine for diseases. It follows that we’ve also developed supplements to optimize one’s results from their workout regimen.
In just the same manner vitamin supplements maintain your health, workout supplements enhance your body’s response to your workout. In this article, we’ll discuss the various supplements available for your specific workout goals.
In this specific article, we’ll examine creatine supplementation in its entirety.
Creatine is the most well – researched sports supplements with over 700 human studies investigating the efficacy and safety of using creatine in one’s workout regimen. Creatine really is a gem especially considering you’d have to consume 1 kilogram of raw beef just to get the same protein content as you would have from 1 tablespoon of creatine powder!
Creatine is a small tripeptide (a compound consisting of 3 amino acids bound together) which our bodies can naturally produce. It is also found naturally in foods as well but almost exclusively in raw meat. However, even one who consumes a lot of meat will not get enough creatine to see its performance and physique enhancing effects. This results from the fact that cooking meat denatures (disrupt a protein’s molecular build by applying heat) the creatine within the meat.
How does it Work?
Your body has 3 main energy systems that work interchangeably to provide your muscles with energy to carry out physical work. The three systems work together to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), a complex compound that acts as fuel in your body. The main energy process produces ATP through an aerobic process in which it uses glucose and fat to produce ATP slowly. This is typically used for long duration workouts such as marathon running. Anaerobic processes produce ATP quickly by utilizing glucose for bursts of energy bouts lasting 30 seconds to about 2 minutes such as swimming. The final energy system is the phosphagen system that produces ATP extremely quickly by using creatine phosphate and is used for very short durations when one is doing intense actions such as heavy lifting or sprinting.
Of particular interest is the fact that a normal diet will contain 1 – 2 grams/day of creatine. This translates to an average saturation level of 60 – 80% of one’s creatine stores. Studies find that creatine supplementation increased this supplementation by 20 – 40%. So, the fastest way for one to reach this saturation level is through creatine loading (the initial phase by which one takes larger doses of creatine) followed by a maintenance phase. This implies taking about 20 – 25 grams per day so as to reach saturation levels within a week then a maintenance phase whereby one takes just 5 grams a day to maintain this saturation level.
A research survey done covering 300 studies yielded that creatine supplementation resulted in 5 – 15% increase in maximal strength and power. Remarkably, even in subjects that had over 6 years in training, creatine supplementation resulted in 30% more repetitions achieved on fundamental exercises of strength such as the bench press and deadlift. This is promising especially considering the strong link between training volume and hypertrophy; being able to perform more work should translate to more muscle over time. Some people may not respond to creatine supplementation at all at a rate of 20% of users. People with high meat consumptions as well as older trainees are more likely to be non – responders.
Creatine does cause intermuscular water retention but this isn’t necessarily a problem since the water is being held inside the muscle where you would want it. This water increases muscle fibre diameter which could further increase muscle growth through cellular swelling.
Unlike caffeine, your body won’t develop a tolerance to its effects and one study found that 21 consecutive months of supplementation led to no health effects in its subjects. However, there has been speculation that creatine causes baldness but this has not been investigated in any scientific literature. It has shown to significantly increase Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is a minor player in baldness but no direct scientific study has yielded any results.
Creatine is an integral source of muscle formation as well as the energy source during one’s weightlifting workout. Furthermore, creatine supplementation is incredibly beneficial in a practical sense as well. With almost no side effects as well as being extensively researched, creatine supplements should be part of your nutrition.