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Supplement Series: Creatine


Today we’re starting a series of articles centered on supplements. Some people who are new to training view supplements as essential, as the magic potion to the body they want. Others see them as merely a wallet draining scam.


We’re going to use this series to dispel those myths while also clearly defining the pros and cons of including supplements in your fitness program, what (if anything) you can take, how to take it, and why.


Let’s start with a very popular supplement, CREATINE.



WHAT IS CREATINE?


Creatine is a supplement that increases your body’s exercise capacity (energy) through the process of converting ADP (Adenosine diphosphate) into ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). Essentially, it give you more energy to power through a few extra sets/reps and increase your overall workload in the gym. This should (theoretically) lead to improved performance and results.



DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK?


Creatine is one of the most valid supplements on the market. Studies have shown that creatine can effectively increase exercise capacity in adolescents, young adults, and older adults. If you make it a regular part of your nutrition program you may see the following benefits:


Increased Exercise Capacity (Energy)

Increased Muscle Hypertrophy (Growth)

Increased Muscle Recovery

Increased Brain and Nervous System Health During Aging

Increased Performance & Output


However, do not expect to take creatine and look like the Hulk. Think of it more as a slight boost, a helping hand to get through a few more reps before failure.



HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?


Your body naturally produces creatine in very small doses to provide muscle energy. The problem is that we need more to truly feel a performance benefit and it’s very difficult to get the recommended 5g/day just through your diet.


1 teaspoon of Creatine Powder is the equivalent of eating 2.2 pounds of raw beef. That is a lot of food and not something that most people can realistically fit into their daily nutrition.


If you want to see the benefits of creatine, it is recommended to add 5g/day to your nutrition. Within 7-10 days, your muscles should be saturated and you will begin to see the impact.


However, you can also do a ‘Loading Phase’ where you consume 20g/day (4 doses of 5g throughout the day) to speed up the saturation process. This would last 5-7 days after which you would consume 3-5g/day for maintenance.



DO YOU NEED CREATINE?


Of course not. Creatine as a supplement is not the end all be all of your success. Can it help you with performance and increase your gains? Yes. But there are some downsides such as Increased Water Weight Gain and the mental anxiety that comes with seeing the number on the scale tick up.


You’ll also be going to the bathroom A LOT as most creatine is added to water and you’ll need to drink a lot of water to see the benefits. There is also the myth that it can negatively impact your liver and kidneys, but this has largely been disproven.


If you are a vegan or vegetarian, adding creatine can definitely help with energy in the absence of meat. For carnivores, you’re likely to see a bit less of an impact.


CONCLUSION


Creatine is a valid supplement with clear benefits of improved performance, energy, and muscle growth. But remember, it is not vital to your success. It can be a tool in the process, not the entire process. It will not matter how much creatine you take if you don’t have the proper strength training plan, diet, or train with the proper intensity to generate muscle growth.


Ultimately, creatine is safe and effective but not necessary.



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