| June 19, 2021
Read time: 3 min.
You’ve probably heard about creatine by now, as it’s recently gained a lot of popularity among athletes and gym enthusiasts alike. To start, creatine is one of the safest, most well researched sport supplements on the market. It is decidedly not like taking steroids, unlike what your uncle Paul told you.
Creatine is an organic compound, which is responsible for recycling adenosine triphosphate. In other words, creatine helps you get approximately 2 more reps than you previously would have been able to. Over time, this can really add up. You can train harder, and potentially put muscle on a little faster than if you weren’t taking creatine.
You do not need to load creatine, and I would caution against doing so. Loading creatine is when you take large doses for 2-4 weeks, to fully saturate your muscles, since it takes time to build up creatine reserves. When you load creatine, however, it can cause some pretty nasty GI problems, which isn’t worth it in my opinion. Instead take 3-5g daily, away from caffeine, preferably right after exercise. If you never remember to take your creatine right after exercise, it is totally OK to take it any other time. You just want to avoid taking it with caffeine, because it’s likely not getting absorbed when you do.
It is also pretty cheap and easy to produce creatine, which has given supplement companies a challenge for upselling you. Creatine HCL was born, as a tactic to charge you more because it is ‘better.’ It is not, however, any better than creatine monohydrate. Save your money and stick to your basic creatine monohydrate. They do the same thing.
There is a small percentage of the population who will be what we call ‘non responders’ to creatine monohydrate. We’re not really sure why, but if you feel like you don’t notice a difference on creatine, this could be why.
Some people avoid taking creatine for fear of gaining weight. To be clear, creatine doesn’t make you put on body fat, but it will increase your water weight slightly. If you see the scale go up while taking creatine, this is why. This also highlights the importance of using multiple metrics to track your progress. Using the scale alone is a poor method of tracking your progress, since it doesn’t give us enough information. Make sure you’re doing measurements as well, so even if the scale goes up from using creatine, you’ll see that your measurements are pretty much the same. Again, it doesn’t cause fat gain, but it will pull more water into your muscle tissues, making the scale go up. The only way to put on body fat is to be in a caloric surplus.
Aside from the potential muscle gains, creatine is also being studied for its potential implications in cognitive health. It is more than just a muscle gain supplement! So you can feel good about taking this supplement.
Finally, creatine isn’t magic. It is one of the best supplements you could take, but we’re talking small improvements. Your overall lifestyle and habits are more significant than any supplement you’re on. Eat well. Train smart. And take your creatine.
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