What the research says about how they can help you get in shape

Creatine is one of the most popular nutritional supplements currently on the market, and it’s used extensively by bodybuilders and athletes alike. Many claim to feel better after including it in their diets, and believe it helps them get fit and build muscle.

While some feel these supplements may be controversial, there is plenty of scientific evidence behind taking creatine, especially for exercise. Studies show that creatine can help boost your performance during workouts — which, in turn, may help you get in shape.

Creatine is a natural substance produced by the body. It is also found in foods such as red meat and seafood. Creatine also plays an essential role in regulating cells and helps quickly replenish adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an organic compound in our bodies that gives cells the energy they need to function.

In humans, the majority of creatine in our bodies (about 95%) is stored in our muscles. As such, it helps give our muscles energy on demand when needed.

The more creatine stored in our muscles, the more energy we can draw when exercising. This may explain why taking creatine supplements may translate to better quality exercises with less fatigue.

But while creatine may help with your workouts and the energy available to working muscles, it won’t suddenly make you fitter—especially if you already had naturally high stores of it to begin with.

However, a wealth of research suggests that taking creatine along with exercise can benefit your training). In some cases, it can improve the amount of weight you can lift by up to 32% and increase muscle mass by 7.2%, especially in the upper body, when compared to those not taking creatine. Recently, there is evidence that uptake of water by cells as a result of creatine supplementation may stimulate genes related to muscle growth, resulting in greater lean muscle gains.

Creatine may help give you an energy boost for your workouts.
Boyan Melnikov/Shutterstock

While there is much disagreement, some studies have also shown that creatine can modestly reduce total body fat especially when taken directly before and after exercise. There is also evidence to suggest creatine can support recovery from exercise, especially if taken with a protein drink, and help prevent injury.

But it’s not just about physical gains. About 5% of the creatine in the body is stored in other tissues including the brain. Taking creatine has been shown to significantly improve cognitive function and decision-making, especially in vegetarians. Taking about 8 grams of creatine per day for five days has been shown to reduce mental fatigue associated with repetitive tasks, and higher doses (20 grams) may improve fatigue associated with brain muscles. This also highlights that creatine can be beneficial in improving the quality of your workouts.

how much do you take

The average adult needs about 1-3 grams per day of stored creatine to support normal bodily functions. However, people who exercise may need to take in between 5-10 grams per day to maintain body stores.

However, research has shown that taking 20g of creatine per day for about a week may actually be optimal to start with, as this increases the amount of creatine stored in your body by about 26%. It can be enhanced even more if consumed along with regular resistance training. Furthermore, creatine stores can be maintained at doses as low as 3-5 grams per day, which maintains creatine availability.

Although you can likely consume enough creatine as part of your diet by eating large amounts of animal proteins and dairy products, you will have to consume a lot more to boost your creatine stores (for example, a 1kg steak can provide five grams). of creatine). This is where creatine supplementation may be most practical.

Creatine remains one of the most tested nutritional supplements out there, and is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. Even those who took up to 30 grams per day for five years showed no harmful effects.

But be aware, supplements can cause some minor side effects, such as nausea, cramping, and bloating—especially during the initial stages. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking creatine just to be sure it is safe for you.

catch

While creatine may have many benefits, unfortunately it may not work for everyone – especially people who already have high levels of creatine stored in their muscles, such as trained athletes or people who regularly eat a high-protein diet. But people who are new to exercise, or those who eat a low-protein or vegan diet, may benefit from consuming more creatine each day, to improve the quality of their workouts.

However, there is still a lot we don’t know about creatine, especially considering that the majority of studies were conducted using healthy male participants. However, a review from 2021 suggests that creatine may be just as or more effective for women — and may also support their bone health, mood, and cognitive function when combined with resistance exercise.

The evidence seems to be accumulating in favor of creatine for training, especially for those starting a new program. But while this supplement may help you get quick bursts of energy and may help you get through your workout, don’t expect it to be a quick fix for getting in shape.

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