Creatine is an extremely popular supplement used to improve performance in physical activity.
It has been studied for 200 years, and is one of the most scientifically valid supplements.
In addition to exercise, creatine may also have health benefits
This article explains how creatine improves exercise performance.
How does creatine affect the body?
The main role of creatine is to increase energy production in cells. To understand how it works, it is first necessary to understand how cells produce energy.
The most basic form of energy in cells is a molecule called adenosine triphosphate ( ATP ) . This is the “energy currency” that cells use to perform many of their functions.
ATP is a limiting factor in high-intensity exercise, because it is used up quickly when you work hard.
This brings us back to creatine. About 95% of the body’s creatine is stored in the muscles, in the form of a molecule called creatine phosphate.
Creatine phosphate can help replenish “energy currency” (ATP), giving muscle cells the ability to produce more energy.
The more creatine you have, the more energy your muscle cells can produce during high-intensity exercise. Obtaining as a result a much better performance during the exercise.
Although the main benefit of creatine is to promote energy production, it can also increase strength and muscle mass.
Summary: Creatine helps make ATP, the most basic form of energy in cells. This increases energy production during high-intensity exercise and leads to better performance, greater strength, and gains in muscle mass.
To find out what creatine is, visit the article What is creatine and what is it for?
Creatine and high intensity exercise
Research suggests that creatine is one of the most effective supplements available for high-intensity exercise.
In fact, hundreds of studies have investigated the effects of creatine. More than 70% of the studies show a positive effect, while the other 30% show a small or negligible effect; no negative effects have been found.
Improvements range from 1 to 15%, on average. Although it is necessary to say that with training alone it could take months or even years to obtain results as favorable as the one indicated in the upper end of the improvements, through training alone.
In one study, creatine was shown to significantly reduce the time required to complete 40-meter sprints .
Another study found a 3.7% improvement in cycling effort after a 4-day creatine loading phase. Other research also shows that it can improve sprint performance .
Short-term supplementation also improved sprint speed in elite swimmers to a greater extent compared to training without creatine.
For soccer players, creatine improved sprint speed between 5 and 15 meters. Additionally, it has been shown to improve jumping performance, which can be beneficial in a variety of team sports.
Summary: Creatine supplementation has been shown to improve high-intensity exercise performance by up to 15%.
Effects of creatine for power and strength exercises
Creatine is also one of the best supplements available for strength and power based exercise.
This is because ATP energy is crucial in these exercises. Often these exercises are of short duration (less than 30 seconds) and performed at a very high intensity.
A 6-week training study found that creatine helped add 15% more weight (11 pounds or 5 kg) to a 1-rep max bicep curl .
A weight training study found that creatine increased maximum squat and bench press strength. These results can be seen in the following table:
The same study also reported a 20% increase in testosterone levels for the creatine group, compared to only a 5% increase in the group not taking creatine.
For college soccer players, creatine improved 6-second sprint performance and total workload for strength training, a key factor in improving strength and power.
Another study compared capacity and strength in weightlifting exercises, the study deduced that creatine helped improve jumps and the number of repetitions for the bench press.
Summary: Most studies show that creatine can improve strength and power for both athletes and beginners.
Don’t stop gaining strength! Read this article with all the information you need . How Does Creatine Help You Gain Muscle And Strength?
Effects of creatine for resistance training
Although creatine is beneficial for short-duration, high-intensity exercise, research shows it has less benefit in lower-intensity, endurance exercise.
A cycling study compared the effects of creatine at both high and low intensity, finding that it only improved performance for high-intensity cycling.
A large review of the research also found significant improvements for short duration work, but less important effects for resistance exercise.
Such results are due to the fact that resistance exercises are of low intensity and are less dependent on rapid ATP regeneration. This makes the role of creatine less significant.
However, one potential benefit of creatine is its ability to enhance training sessions, which may improve endurance training performance over the long term.
In a study in endurance athletes, creatine improved the number of training intervals and repetitions in workouts.
Therefore, creatine may provide a benefit for endurance athletes who include sprints , high-intensity intervals, or strength work in their training.
Summary: Current short-term research suggests that creatine supplementation provides little or no direct benefit to resistance training performance.
To learn about other supplements that help you gain muscle mass, visit 6 Supplements to Gain Muscle Mass .
How to use a creatine supplement?
There are various forms of creatine available, some of which are marketed with claims that are not supported by research.
The most studied and proven form of creatine is creatine monohydrate, hundreds of studies can support its safety and efficacy.
Creatine supplements can increase muscle creatine stores by 10 to 40%, depending on the person and the creatine levels at the time of taking it.
If the person has low levels of creatine stored in the muscles, then the improvements are more noticeable.
One guideline or protocol for increasing creatine levels in the body is “creatine loading”, whereby the fastest way is to fill up muscle creatine stores. This involves taking a high dose for a few days, and then a lower maintenance dose.
That is, you can consume 20 to 25 grams of creatine per day, distributing the dose in parts of 5 grams throughout the day, for 5 to 7 days. Afterwards, a maintenance dose of 3 to 5 grams per day is continued, to prevent creatine levels from declining.
Some research has shown that creatine absorption can be enhanced with protein or carbohydrates, so taking it with food may be a good option.
Summary: Taking 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate per day, every day, can maximize creatine levels in muscles, “loading” them with 20 grams (4 5-gram servings). , per day for the first 5 days.
Also, it is important to know when is the best time to take creatine?
Creatine is one of the most scientifically proven supplements.
One variety of creatine is creatine monohydrate, it is the one that has been evaluated by many studies for a long time, and it is also the most economical type available.
A typical dose is 3 to 5 grams per day, but 20 grams (spread out over 4 servings throughout the day) can also be taken over 5 days to rapidly boost muscle creatine stores.
In high intensity exercise, creatine can improve performance by up to 15%, it can also increase strength and help gain muscle mass.
Creatine has little to no benefit for lower-intensity or resistance exercise, but may be beneficial if high-intensity exercise is also included in your workout.
Also, taking creatine is safe in the long term, no research has shown any long-term problems in healthy individuals.