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Creatine: what it is and why you should be taking it

Transformational Nutrition creatine

Creatine is the most well researched supplement on the market.  It is a natural supplement that actually exists naturally in our bodies.  It helps produce energy rapidly and fuels our muscles which is why is why many gym goers take it as a supplement.

There is, however, much more to this supplement than you may realise!

Creatine is the most researched and effective performance supplement available on the market.  It also has huge health benefits.

Creatine Monohydrate

Not all creatine supplements are equal.  Recently there have been newer versions appearing on the market but beware of these.  They often have additional, unnecessary ingredients added to them that make then more expensive which can, ironically, make them more attractive!

But don’t fall for clever marketing tricks, monohydrate is the form that is ‘proven’ and is found in powdered form.  Liquid versions like creatine ethyl ester (CEE) are unstable and break down in your blood system.

How Creatine Works 

Creatine works by rapidly improving our source of energy for muscle contractions; it means that we can train harder for longer. It does so by increasing phosphocreatine stores which in turn produce more ATP energy to fuel muscles during exercise

Some people are ‘non-responders’ but this could be because they have naturally high levels of it in their diet; it is available in meat, eggs and fish.

Creatine helps our bodies create additional energy to increase exercise performance.

Creatine and Weight Gain

Creatine can lead to weight gain through water retention, but this is intracellular which means that it is inside our cells and therefore not visible.  Issues can arise when it is taken with too many simple sugars which increase calorie consumption.

As creatine does need to be taken with insulin releasing foods to drive it in to the muscle, many people believe that they need to have it in conjunction with sugary substances, but this is not the case; it can be taken with normal foods with the same effects.

Creatine is not calorific in itself so it does not cause fat gain.  The water weight is actually a good thing; more water into your muscles makes your muscles bigger and fuller.

Creatine can lead to water being stored within cells but this is not visible and it can, in fact, help you look leaner. 

Benefits of Creatine

Creatine has the biggest ergogenic effect; it can increase training load and decrease recovery time which increases the potential for muscle gainStudies have shown it to increase strength in just a few days.

It also has benefits for endurance athletes.  It increases lactate threshold, which means training for longer at a higher intensity is possible, and it increases time to exhaustion.  It can, however, increase glycogen storage which could potentially make an athlete heavier and pose problems if running long distance.

Transformational nutrition CREATINE ALZHEIMERS MEMORYCreatine does also have major health benefits.  As little as 5g a day significantly improves working memory and intelligence .  In fact, depletion of creatine in the brain can lead to neurological degeneration which begs the question of whether it could be a natural, preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s!  Furthermore, it can also help to combat sleep deprivation  and has been seen to increase lean tissue and performance in vegetarians; most likely because dietary creatine is constrained to meat products.

 

Creatine is not only a worthwhile performance supplement, it can also significantly increase our neurological functioning.

Creatine and Diet 

Whilst creatine can be beneficial to a lot of people, it does not work for everyone and it is important to remember that without a healthy, balanced diet, there is little point taking it for aesthetic reasons.

Becoming fitter and leaner primarily comes down to good nutrition.  If you have a poor diet, then focus on eating good sources of carbohydrates, protein and fat before contemplating any supplement.  Once you have this is in check, alongside a solid exercise plan, creatine could be an excellent addition.

Supplements should never replace a healthy, balanced diet.

Summary

Many people refer to creatine as a wonder supplement and it is easy to see why.  If taken properly, there are few side effects and it can improve the way we look, feel and function!