Creatine – More Than a Muscle Builder

Written by Angelo Sarro, B.S. in Health and Wellness

 

What is Creatine?

Creatine is an amino acid which is found mostly in the bodies muscular system and in the brain. The body creates its own creatine in the liver, pancreas and the kidneys. Consumption of creatine can also come through the absorption of seafood and red meats. The creatine is stored in the body and used for energy. It can be taken orally to improve athletic performance as well as increase muscle mass.It may also be used to treat conditions such as brain disorders or congestive heart failure. There is also a topical creatine that may be used to treat aging skin. It is most widely used by athletes who need it for short bursts of speed or high intensity resistance lifting; these athletes are usually sprinters or weight lifters. (Staff, 2017)

Strength and Size

Creatine is stored in the muscles and used during high intensity exercises such as bench press, squats or deadlifts. Higher intensity contractions increase an individual’s capacity to do more intense anaerobic repetitive work. This should leave someone able to complete an extra repetition during their set. While using creatine, a person may gain up to 0.8-2.9% more body weight after the first few days of using the supplement. Creatine is able to build muscle by raising the levels of anabolic hormones, lowering myostatin levels (if these levels are elevated it may inhibit muscle growth), improve cell signaling of satellite cells (helps with growth and repair), and reduces protein breakdown. When it comes down to the body weight people want to know if they are gaining muscle or water weight. Muscle is 73% water so you are gaining 73% water weight and 27% muscle mass. Creatine does cause cellular volumization which will make the muscle size increase.  (Luoma, 2016)

Safety and Side Effects

Creatine can become dangerous if it is not taken correctly. It can cause damage to the liver and  heart, as well as the kidneys. It can also cause muscle cramping, nausea, diarrhea, gastrointestinal pain, dehydration, weight gain, water retention, heat intolerance and fever. Creatine should also not be mixed with certain drugs. One of these types of drugs are called Nephrotoxic drugs. Mixing high doses of creatine with these types of drugs may cause damage to the kidneys. Some examples of these drugs are Advil, Motrin, Aleve, and Ibuprofen. When taking creatine individuals should also avoid caffeine and ephedra. Combining caffeine and Creatine might decrease the efficacy of the creatine. Combining the creatine, caffeine and ephedra might increase an individual to be considerably more prone to a serious side effects like a stroke. Individuals with a history of kidney disease or diabetes have a higher risk of developing kidney problems when taking creatine. There is also a concern that there is an increase in mania for people diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. (Staff, 2017)

Dosage

People usually start taking creatine with a loading phase. This is meant to flood the bodies muscle supplies with creatine and advance them to the maintenance phase where an individual will reduce doses to keep the levels where they are needed. People generally use 20 grams of creatine over a five day period. An individual may also use a lower dosage since, in some individuals, creatine can trigger water retention or an upset stomach. People taking a lower dosage typically use 10 grams per day and load over a 10-14 day period. This will lessen bloating, however, this will make the loading phase longer. It is possible not to do a loading phase at all as well. If this is the method chosen they will take five grams of creatine over the course of a month. This could vary the results an individual may gain compared to the other two methods. It is not recommended to go over the recommended 20-gram dosage for five days because higher doses of creatine will convert to formaldehyde in the urine. Creatine is best taken post-workout since this is when muscle glycogen is most receptive to topping up supplies. (How Much Creatine to Take?, 2019)  Muscle will not be lost if usage of creatine is stopped. Fluid will be lost from the cells. This will reduce the cell volume but not lose any of the muscle gained whilst taking the supplement.  (Luoma, 2016)

More Than Muscle

For many years, creatine was only thought of as a tool for gaining muscle mass, but recent studies have shown that it can do so much more than that. One study found that lifters who did curls to failure felt less muscle soreness than a placebo group. The researchers concluded that it was likely due to a combination of creatine’s multifaceted functions (Luoma, 2016). In addition to aiding in a faster and more comfortable recovery, creatine has shown abilities to decrease blood sugar. This makes it a great choice for individuals with diabetes as well as anyone striving to lose fat. 

This recent information about the additional benefits of creatine are the precise reasons we chose to include it in our Pur Recovery post workout supplement.

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