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22/11/22 5

Creatine: how it helps increase mass and strength

Let’s talk about what creatine is

Creatine is a molecule that is produced in the body from amino acids. It is mainly produced in the liver and (to a lesser extent) in the kidneys and pancreas.

In supplement form, it is one of the best known and most studied and considered fundamental in fitness and bodybuiding, but is also useful in endurance sports.

What role does creatine play in metabolism and strength training

Thanks to creatine, the body stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine (PC). These phosphate groups are donated to ADP to regenerate it into ATP, Adenosine Triphosphate, the primary energy carrier in the body. This role in energy production is particularly relevant under conditions of high energy demand, such as intense physical or mental activity. ATP can in fact only be made available in the muscle for short periods, i.e. 8 to 10 seconds. In exercises against resistance, but also at maximum force output such as sprinting, the body will require more ATP than it can produce.

What foods contain creatine?

Creatine is found in some foods of animal origin and is prevalent in meat and fish. A high amount of creatine is also present in breast milk, while there is little in cow’s milk. This presence hints at the importance of creatine in the infant’s development.

FoodCreatine (g/100 g)
Dried Herring11,0
Beef steak0,450
Deer meat0,450

Best creatine supplements

The history of creatine as a supplement is a long one. Perhaps among the first sports supplements to be introduced to the general public. Certainly, creatine is the supplement with the most scientific evidence.

Athletes commonly take it as a powder or in capsules. There are many different forms of creatine available on the market, but creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and most effective.

How to take creatine monohydrate to increase mass and strength

Until recently, the method most commonly used by bodybuilders for taking creatine was the loading protocol. In this protocol, creatine monohydrate can be supplemented as follows: to start the loading, take 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for 5-7 days, then continue with at least 0.03 g/kg/day for three weeks (if you cycle) or indefinitely (without further loading phases). For an 82-kilo person, this translates to 25 g/day during the loading phase and 2.5 g/day thereafter, although many users take 5 g/day due to the low price of creatine and the possibility of experiencing greater benefits. Higher doses (up to 10 g/day) may be useful for people with high muscle mass and activity levels, or for those who do not respond to the lower 5 g/day dose. Stomach cramps may occur when creatine is supplemented without enough water. Diarrhoea and nausea can occur when too much creatine is supplemented at one time, in which case doses should be spread throughout the day and taken with meals.

To avoid these effects, 3g of creatine monohydrate is normally taken daily in fitness and endurance sports. This maintenance protocol is the most validated method at the moment.

Benefits of creatine: not only increase lean mass and strength.

The main benefit of creatine is improved strength and power during endurance exercise. So with high-intensity repetitions or loading you get better results by taking creatine than by not taking it. Creatine is well designed for this purpose and the effects are quite remarkable for a supplement. When used in combination with resistance exercise, such as weightlifting, creatine can modestly increase lean mass. It has also been tested for its effects on anaerobic running ability in many studies, the results of which are rather mixed but generally suggest a small improvement in performance. Although creatine has been studied much less for cognitive performance than for physical performance, it may have benefits in some contexts. Creatine also appears to reduce mental fatigue in scenarios such as demanding mental activity and sleep deprivation. Creatine may also improve working memory, although probably only for people with lower than average creatine levels, such as vegetarians and the elderly. Research in this regard is still in progress.

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