Creatine: Worth it or not?

Creatine: Worth it or not?

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In order to answer the question is supplementing creatine worth it or not, we first have to look at what creatine is, how it works, and who it's best for.

What is creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain meats, fish, nuts, and milk. Supplementing with creatine is a popular practice because obtaining optimal amounts through diet alone is very challenging.

How does creatine work?

Creatine plays a vital role in regenerating ATP (adenosine triphosphate) within muscle cells, which serves as the body's primary energy source for muscular contractions. During a workout, creatine, specifically creatine phosphate when present in the muscle, is utilized to facilitate the regeneration of ATP, particularly during high-intensity exercises lasting approximately 10 seconds, such as strength and power-based activities. As the process of ATP regeneration requires the breakdown of creatine, intramuscular creatine phosphate becomes depleted during exercise. However, by supplementing with creatine, intramuscular creatine phosphate levels are replenished more quickly, enhancing ATP regeneration. Consequently, there is an increase in muscular power output from one training session to another. Consistent creatine supplementation over time can yield significant improvements in both strength and overall performance. Research has firmly established the effectiveness of creatine as a supplement for enhancing strength and power (1). 

Should you take creatine?

This depends on the activities you engage in. Creatine supplementation is particularly beneficial for activities that involve short bursts of intense effort, such as weightlifting and sprinting. Research shows that when creatine is supplemented alongside resistance training exercise, there is an average increase in strength of 8% compared to resistance training alone (1). This is because these activities heavily rely on the creatine phosphate system of ATP regeneration. However, the benefits of creatine have not been demonstrated in endurance-based activities that rely less on this system.

So is creatine worth it or not? If you lift weights and want to increase strength or power, it is certainly worthwhile considering creatine supplementation.

Which form of creatine should you take?

Creatine monohydrate is widely regarded as the best and most researched form of creatine. It has been extensively studied and proven to be safe, effective, and cost-efficient for improving athletic performance, increasing strength, and promoting muscle gains.

Here are a few reasons why creatine monohydrate is considered the best form:

  • Research-backed: Creatine monohydrate has been the subject of numerous scientific studies, demonstrating its effectiveness in enhancing performance, increasing power output, and promoting muscle mass gains.
  • Safety: Creatine monohydrate has a long history of safe use when taken within recommended dosages. It has been thoroughly researched and evaluated, and no significant adverse health effects have been reported in healthy individuals.
  • Cost-effective: Creatine monohydrate is widely available and generally more affordable compared to other forms of creatine. It provides excellent value for its performance-enhancing benefits.

While there are alternative forms of creatine, such as creatine ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride (HCl), or buffered creatine, these forms have not demonstrated clear advantages over creatine monohydrate in terms of effectiveness or safety. They are typically more expensive and have less scientific research supporting their efficacy.

 

 

References:

Rawson, E. S., & Volek, J. S. (2003). Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 17(4), 822–831. 

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