There's a reason why creatine is the most popular bodybuilding supplement on the market, making its way into protein powders, pre, intra and post workout products, and even branching off into a category of its' own. Creatine is ideal for a number of athletic functions, and research continues to validate its use as an ergogenic ingredient. In short, creatine is the king of all supplements.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally-occurring organic acid which is found primarily in muscle cells and helps to supply energy to all cells within the body. Creatine assists in producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is the energy source of muscles.
Creatine is produced in humans by the liver and kidneys from the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. 95% of creatine is stored in the skeletal muscles.
The main reason creatine is used as a dietary supplement is for its' ability to help build muscle. Creatine assists muscle building in a number of ways:
- Creatine helps produce more muscle energy which allows you to lift more, putting more stress on your muscles and stimulating more growth
- Creatine draws water and other nutrients into muscle cells, forcing them to expand
- Creatine helps to increase strength levels which allows you to overload muscles
Strength and Power
Creatine is essential for producing ATP, the muscle's energy source. ATP is reduced by every rep and every set of a strength-training workout, and once ATP stores are empty, muscles can no longer produce the energy to move weights. This contributes to failure (during a set) and muscle fatigue (during a workout). With optimal creatine levels in muscles, ATP production is at its' highest, allowing faster and more powerful contractions.
Creatine is stored in muscle cells, and the majority of creatine taken in supplement form goes directly into your muscles (remember, 95% of creatine is stored in muscle cells). While it's important to have creatine in your muscles to produce ATP, it's also very important to have other amino acids and nutrients in there, such as branched chain amino acids and glutamine. Creatine, when entering the muscles, draws with it water and other nutrients such as these amino acids, filling the muscles with them. This is especially important and especially effective post-workout when muscle creatine stores are depleted and the majority of nutrients are partitioned into the muscle cells. This is why creatine is the ideal post workout addition to any shake.
Creatine has not been shown in any research study to have any negative effects, other than possible stomach discomfort at high doses. With over 25 years of research, creatine is one of the safest supplements on the market.
Not only do creatine manufacturers make these claims and lots more, but they are backed up by hundreds, if not thousands, of research articles testing all sorts of athletes and untrained subjects using creatine. While results like ‘900% more muscle' might be taken out of context and used constantly by supplement manufacturers, the fact is that creatine does work, and the results in studies for the most part have shown significant and reliable results indicating increases in strength, power and muscle mass using this supplement. If you want to see the results for yourself, go to Pubmed Online where you can access these research articles directly and search for ‘creatine supplement'.
Creatine truly is the supplement king, with reliable and consistent results backed by multiple research studies, with more studies being released all the time. After protein, everyone should consider using a creatine supplement if they want to build muscle, increase their strength, improve power output, or recover faster from workouts.
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