Creatine Q&A

Different types of Creatine

It’s important for anyone to understand what they are putting into their body, especially when it comes to supplements. In this article, we are going to explore the purpose and benefits of creatine with an aim to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Creatine is an amino acid derivative which is made from the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. It is mainly created in the liver and kidneys, then stored almost completely in the muscles (95%). Most people have about 120g of creatine stored in their bodies as creatine phosphate.

Creatine monohyhdrate has been found to be the most effective form of creatine for increasing blood and muscle creatine levels. It is the most cost effective and nearly 100% absorbable.

Creatine is critical to the phosphagen energy system, which is the principal source of ATP (the main energy substrate used during short-term, high intensity exercise). When ATP loses a phosphate molecule and becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP), it must be converted back to ATP to produce energy. Creatine is stored in the human body as creatine phosphate, so when ATP is depleted, it can be recharged by creatine phosphate, which enables the muscles to quickly expend and replenish energy.

The typical physiological turnover for creatine is approximately 2g per day. Therefore, when you supplement with more than this amount, you increase your creatine phosphate concentrations, which means faster and greater recharging of ATP = more explosive lifts.

It increases physical power and maximal strength in explosive lifts and in short bursts of energy, which is particularly good for weight training. We have also found that greater volumes of creatine within the muscle cells also cause “water drag”, where water is drawn into muscle cells, increasing water retention, which produces an increase in muscle size, AKA cell volumisation.

It’s usually a matter of days, depending on the individual and the loading protocol followed. With 20g of creatine per day you’ll get the effects within 1-3 days, whereas individuals who follow a slower loading protocol tend to notice the effects in about a week.

There is a small percentage of individuals who have no effect from creatine. These people are known as creatine non-responders and at present, these individuals represent about 20-30% of users who are unable to saturate muscle tissues with creatine following loading.

There has been a lot of negative media written over the years which has reported creatine as a supplement which may result in negative long term health effects. However, no negative evidence has been found for creatine supplementation in over 500 research studies.

You may have heard people mention gastrointestinal distress from creatine supplementation, but it can be remedied by simply consuming creatine in a greater volume of liquid. There are other anecdotes of cramp coinciding with supplementation of creatine. Whilst it is unlikely to be directly responsible, the increase of intracellular water with creatine supplementation may lower electrolyte concentration, so drinking more fluid or using electrolytes in conjunction with creatine might be beneficial.

As previously stated, creatine is a peptide containing the three amino acids (arginine, glycine, and methionine) which are produced in the body, so in theory, there should be no interactions between creatine and any medication. However, if you have any concerns about taking a supplement whilst on medication, it is advised to consult with your doctor prior to taking them.

There is a threshold point in the body for creatine, which lies somewhere between 10 and 40% greater than the normal levels found in the body, so once saturation points have been reached, there are no additional benefits to taking in more creatine, and excess creatine is excreted through urine.

Supplementing 20g of creatine monohydrate can enable you to reach the saturation point in 2-3 days, followed by lower doses to maintain tissue stores.

Therefore the common loading period is typically 20g for 5 days in 4 x 5g doses OR a 1 x 3g dose for 30 days, to reach tissue saturation followed by a maintenance dose of 2-3g per day (00.3g per kg) depending on bodyweight. The consumption of creatine monohydrate with sugary carbohydrates has been shown to increase storage of creatine by approximately 9% and the consumption of creatine monohydrate with protein has been shown to increase storage of creatine by approximately 2% compared to consuming creatine monohydrate on its own – so why not try it in a mass gainer or an all-in-one shake.

In short, no. Research studies of individuals who have taken creatine monohydrate for durations of 2-3 years have shown no adverse effects from consistent supplementation.

The timing of creatine monohydrate supplementation is not important. Consistency of creatine monohydrate use is of greater importance. However, most research indicates that creatine supplementation post-workout may be slightly better than if it is supplemented as part of a pre-workout.

In order to gain the best results, it should be taken every day irrespective of whether you train or not. By doing this, it ensures that the muscles are saturated with creatine.

Creatine monohydrate is as effective for women as it is for men, and the same benefits are likely to be gained by following the same supplementation protocol.

There is no evidence to suggest that creatine monohydrate supplementation is detrimental to teenagers. It is also safe for older adults to supplement creatine monohydrate, and there is also some research support for creatine monohydrate helping in the prevention of cognitive decline.

Creatine is safe for diabetics, and may actually assist in the control of blood glucose levels through the increase of a glucose transporter protein called GLUT4 in muscle tissue.

From the large number of studies which have been carried out on creatine monohydrate, there is no evidence to date which suggests that creatine monohydrate is harmful to the liver. Moreover, there are no known mechanisms through which typical intakes of creatine monohydrate may be harmful to the liver. There is also no evidence which indicates that creatine monohydrate is harmful to the kidneys despite the by-product of creatine being creatinine, the waste product of the kidneys.

The body uses each of the energy systems (phosphagen, glycolytic and oxidative system) perpetually, with reliance on each energy system depending on the duration and intensity of activity being carried out. So, given that endurance athletes primarily use the oxidative system but also use glycolysis and the phosphagen system, creatine may be useful for endurance athletes, but it’s likely that the beneficial effects are less than in power athletes who primarily use the phosphagen system.

There is some evidence that supplementing with caffeine and creatine monohydrate simultaneously may detriment the benefits of creatine on muscle contractions compared to creatine monohydrate supplementation alone – but the research is limited! There is also some evidence though, that simultaneous caffeine and creatine monohydrate supplementation may actually enhance performance benefits in anaerobic cardiovascular exercise performance, so as yet, there is no conclusive evidence, and the effects of simultaneous supplementation may be subject to the type of exercise performed and the individual.

I have heard anecdotal rumours that creatine may cause infertility. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this may be the case. There are also no good molecular mechanisms through which it may cause this. By contrast, there is evidence that creatine assists in sperm function and increases fertility.

I have also heard rumours that creatine may be carcinogenic. This stems from debates about whether creatine can be turned into carcinogenic compounds known as heterocyclic amines. However, do not stress!! There is actually no evidence to suggest that creatine is carcinogenic from any tests which have been conducted.

If you have any more questions about creatine, make sure you contact our customer services team or if you’re ready to buy… shop here.

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