Google ‘workout supplementation’ and you are bound to come across creatine or creatine monohydrate. It’s been used for a long time simply by adding it to a drink and is relatively inexpensive. Creatine is also one of the most widely studied supplements out there. It benefits so many things and processes in our bodies that it would take a long time to cover it all. Too much to stay within the 5 minute max read time I want for my posts. You want quick, actionable info and I’m here to deliver it. But if you’re interested in the research you’ll have no problem finding paper after paper on the subject.
How Does Creatine Work?
To put it simply, it helps you build strength and muscle. The main way scientists believe it does this is through forming more adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Adeno-WHAT!? Stay with me. Think of ATP as your body’s energy currency. There’s an adenosine molecule and three phosphate molecules like this;
Now for your muscle to contract it needs to take one of these phosphates away. A chemical reaction happens and allows you to lift a weight or sprint at a high intensity. That then leads to this;
The ATP becomes ADP (adenosine diphosphate). The problem is your muscles only have a limited amount of ATP and can’t use ADP for energy. To maintain your high intensity sprinting or if you want to lift a heavy weight for another rep or two you need to find another phosphate to link up and make more ATP. That’s where creatine comes in. When you consume creatine through animal protein or supplementation, the creatine molecules bond with phosphate molecules.
To form more ATP, the ADP takes the phosphate from the creatine molecule and you can keep on training hard.
With the ability to complete more reps or an added set of an exercise you then are able to do more work. Over time you become stronger and can gain more muscle.
Who Could Benefit From Creatine?
With all the research done on the supplement and its documented benefits it would help almost everyone. That includes people who don’t train. While someone who eats a lot of meat or fish will have more creatine stores already, they might see less of a performance bump. However, most people don’t even get close to enough protein intake so meat eaters will still benefit. Vegetarians would probably see a more dramatic improvement.
How To Take It
The loading protocol for creatine is to take 5 grams four times per day for 5-7 days. After that time you can then just take 5 grams once per day. Or you could just take 5 grams per day and your stores will slowly but surely ramp up after a few weeks.
While I can’t say “take this supplement” or “take that supplement” this is just another case of me giving you knowledge on the subject and you can make your mind up for yourself. I personally have been taking it for a long time, have never had any issues with it and will continue to take it as part of my supplementation regimen.