In the recent years, creatine has become somewhat of a supplement staple for regular gym-goers who seek to enhance their lean muscle mass. That probably explains why you see a lot of guys at the gym “feasting” on creatine in the form of capsules, powder or simply as part of a pre-workout shake.
Despite creatine being a “celebrity” supplement nowadays, some still question its effectiveness as well as its impact on the human health. Nutrition experts, though, contradict this opinion since most doubters are not entirely aware of creatine’s numerous benefits on the human body.
This article contains everything you need to know about the best creatine supplements and answers how to choose the best creatine supplements as well as several other questions around this issue. So, let’s dive in.
What Is Creatine?
The scientific community recognizes creatine as an organic acid that is produced by the human body naturally with the help of amino acids. Its sole purpose is to fuel the human body with energy (especially the muscles) for it to keep moving. At the same time, creatine is known to boost muscle strength and improve your training performance.
According to nutrition gurus, creatine can be found in certain protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, and eggs. That is why most nutritionists recommend these foods to those who want to build up their muscle mass, bodybuilders in particular. However, you would need to consume a lot of fish and meat to obtain a decent amount of creatine. That is where creatine supplements step in.
How Does Creatine Work?
Whenever you need to perform an activity that requires an immediate and short-term burst of energy (weight lifting, for example), your body resorts straight to ATP. ATP, known as adenosine triphosphate in the scientific community, is the only molecule blessed with the power of cellular energy. In other words, ATP provides your body with a significant amount of energy.
Muscle cells use up ATP molecules when you perform intense and short-term workout routines. As a result, once this short period elapses, your ATP levels are low. Meantime, your body processes glucose to “restock” your empty ATP tanks. But, this takes up to 20 seconds whereas creatine (stored in your muscle cells) converts into ATP in just a fraction of a second.
The bottom line is that creatine is the single molecule that contributes significantly in the immediate ATP replenishment so that you can work out more efficiently and build up those muscles.
Why You Should Take Creatine
Here are the three most important reasons why you should consider taking the best creatine supplements.
Boosts Muscle Mass
As mentioned earlier, the best creatine supplements can provide you with energy for a short-term and intense workout such as lifting weights. By increasing your overall workout performance and boosting your intensity stamina, creatine helps you build more muscle mass. Specifically, the best creatine supplements possible force your body to keep going instead of slowing down your tempo or stopping altogether once you are out of energy.
Enhances Muscle Recovery
Meanwhile, creatine is not just helpful during your workout session, but also post-workout. According to research, creatine supplements help you body in two ways after a workout session. Firstly, they reduce the muscle cell damage as well as the inflammation after an intense workout regimen. At the same time, they promote a quicker muscle cell recovery.
Improves Brain Function
But, let’s not focus solely on creatine’s muscle-building properties. Based on medical findings published in Neuroscience journal, this powerful substance is also capable of protecting your brain from neurodegenerative disorders.
Best Creatine Types
Nowadays the creatine market is growing strong by adding more and more supplement formulas which can be quite confusing. From monohydrate (considered as the best creatine form) to ethyl ester, you should review the options a bit before jumping in.
Labeled as the best creatine muscle-building supplement, creatine monohydrate promotes protein composition that helps your muscles grow.
- Creatine Ethyl Ester
According to research, ethyl ester creatine is not as effective as creatine monohydrate despite its bioavailability. That occurs because, once ingested, ethyl ester converts into creatinine which is inactive and useless for your muscle-building mission.
- Micronized Creatine
Through the micronization process, the creatine monohydrate particles are reduced concerning their size. Due to this reduction, micronized creatine is slightly more water-soluble. However, its effectiveness as well absorption by the human body remain intact.
- Liquid Creatine
Liquid creatine is nothing more than plain monohydrate dissolved in water and amino acid glycine solution. According to supplement manufacturers, liquid creatine is more beneficial than the powdered one since it can be absorbed more efficiently and distributed in small dosages.
What Should You Avoid When Taking Creatine?
According to experts, you should keep in check several habits of yours before starting a creatine supplementation. Here are the three things you should avoid when taking creatine.
- Not Drinking Water
Creatine is known for absorbing water from various parts of your body towards the muscles to generate ATP. That is why you are likely to experience dizziness due to dehydration. So, make sure you hydrate your body enough.
- Working Out In A Hot Environment
A heated room is bound to speed up your dehydration. So, also make sure you exercise in an air-conditioned room/gym.
According to studies, caffeine and creatine supplements possibly don’t get along. Although the research data is still vague and non-tangible, caffeine seems to either slow down the muscle mass development or (in worst case scenario) lead to a stroke. Once again, there is no firm scientific evidence of this correlation, but findings so far seem to confirm this theory.
- Unknown Creatine Brands
Unfortunately, there have been reports of contaminated creatine supplements. To avoid any harmful side effects, it’s best that you go with the best creatine supplement brands to minimize the risk of harming yourself.
Can Women Take Creatine?
Of course, they can! Creatine supplements can benefit men and women who are determined to achieve their muscle-building goals equally. However, in fear of turning out too bulky or looking bloated, women stay away from this substance. The truth is, though, that these opinions are myths (totally busted).
Creatine Side Effects
Even if you are on the best creatine supplements in the market, overdosing is never safe. Specifically, creatine overuse is said to harm several vital organs such as your kidney, heart, and liver. Still, there is no hard evidence of such negative correlation. On the other hand, you are more likely to suffer from an upset stomach, muscle cramps, diarrhea, dehydration, and nausea, when overdosing on creatine.