The Scoop on Creatine
By Lauren Adlof, CSCS, CF-L1, TSAC-F, EP-C, USAW
Creatine is one of the most researched and most popular supplements available – but is it right for you? Let’s go over some important background information on creatine, and discuss what it is, what it does, and why it works!
Seriously, what IS creatine?
We’ve all heard a little about creatine, but I want to go over some of the science behind your supplement. Many people don’t realize that Creatine is a natural compound made up of just 3 different amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. It is naturally produced by your body, and it’s also naturally found in red meat. After it is ingested it is synthesized by the liver, pancreas, and kidneys where it binds with a phosphate molecule to become phosphocreatine (Pcr), which gets stored in your skeletal muscle. This Pcr molecule is used to make another molecule called ATP, which is ENERGY for your body…energy to contract your muscles, move around, and of course…work out!
What does it DO?
This molecule is the first fuel source your body uses when you start to work out (ever heard of the ATP/Phosphocreatine system?) especially during anaerobic work like lifting weights. The idea behind supplementing with creatine is to increase the availability of this energy source so you can work out harder and longer. Not only can creatine increase the energy stores available for your workout, it also draws water and ions into the muscle cells, promoting protein synthesis. Research has shown that the benefits of creatine supplementation go far beyond having a good workout. In addition to improved performance, other results include increased muscle mass and size, increased strength and power, and a greater percentage of fat-free body mass. In general, creatine supplementation has been shown to significantly increase anabolic activity – aka your gains!
Timing (When can I get the most Gainz?)
It’s no mystery that proper nutrients and nutrient timing around your workout can help promote muscle growth and recovery – but what about creatine? Don’t worry, creatine can be effective when it is consumed either pre- or post-workout.
Who can take creatine?
Creatine isn’t just for power lifters or professional athletes – it’s for anyone who needs the muscular strength to move! Another benefit of creatine is that it can also help prevent the loss of muscle mass and strength that happens as we age. Creatine supplementation in addition to a solid weight training program can improve functional strength, maximal strength, muscle mass, and lean mass in women and older adults. One recent study examined the effects of creatine supplementation in women over the age of 60, who did resistance training 3 days per week. The women who used creatine gained muscular strength, significantly increased their bench press, increased their leg strength, and improved their fat-free muscle mass. Most importantly, women who used creatine performed better at functional tests like getting out of a chair and getting up from the floor.
Overall, the scoop on creatine is that it works. Creatine is an effective, natural molecule that can be used as a supplement to increase muscular strength and performance. Like any supplement, it is important to do your homework and make sure you buy from a trusted, reputable supplement company. Do you have more questions about adding creatine to your workouts? Let us know how we can help!
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