5 Major Reasons Why You Need to Be Supplementing with Creatine
One of the few products (besides caffeine) I always recommend to clients is creatine. Creatine is naturally produced by the body’s energy system and by supplementing it you can provide extra benefits beyond compare with no adverse side effects. Regardless of whether or not you have heard of creatine, one thing is for sure: you need to be using it.
1. Creatine Provides More Energy
Who doesn’t want more energy? We have three energy systems we use when performing activities: ATP-PC (lasts for the first few seconds), glycolytic (lasts 1-2 min), and aerobic (takes over till completion). The first system, the ATP-PC (adenosine triphosphate- phosphocreatine ) phase, is from where we generate the power needed for these explosive movements; however, it only lasts a couple of seconds until it is depleted. Then, you will need to rest until it is restored if you want to regain the same power. It uses a stored molecule in the muscle called creatine phosphate (CP) to resynthesise ATP. Thus, supplementing with creatine, allows you to have that power for a longer window and a shorter recovery time, which is critical for high intensity type training and resistance training. You may not feel an instant jolt with a shot of creatine powder, however, your cells will. With extra creatine in your system, you will transport energy directly to your working cells more rapidly, thus producing peak power for a slightly longer period of time (which means better results for you). When you perform explosive movements, like Tabatas, high-intensity repetitions, and/or resistance training (to name just a few), your muscle cells need energy fast and creatine supplementation provides this.
2. Creatine Preserves Muscle (even without working out)
Creatine increases muscle protein synthesis and decreases muscle protein breakdown. In other words, the more creatine in your system, the more lean muscle in your body. Even better, in this study, researchers even found that supplementing with creatine regardless of activity level can increase lean muscle. What is more, researchers have found that creatine combined with resistance training also helps prevent muscle wasting by blocking myostatin, a gene which limits your muscle size. When taken before bed on an empty stomach, it had been shown to help with human growth hormone release (an incredibly powerful fat burner and lean tissue builder).
3. Creatine Helps Clear Blood Glucose
Unregulated insulin — the hormone that clears glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream — in your system will cause damage to the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. People who lose sensitivity to insulin produce higher and higher amounts of it to try to clear the blood. Eventually, the body reaches a point where the glucose cannot be pushed into the tissue and just remains in the bloodstream, thus quickly resulting in a downward spiral of health complications, like obesity, type II diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. GOOD NEWS, regular creatine supplemention has been found to help your body become more sensitive to insulin and to help your muscles burn more glucose than normal, again even while sitting at rest!
4. Creatine Makes You Smarter
Even though we typically think of creatine in terms of muscle cells, it appears that the same mechanism is beneficial for brain cells as well. In a study that tested creatine supplementation in elderly people, their cognitive function was found to increase after taking it, showing it may play a role in age-related cognitive decline.
5. Creatine May Extend Your Life
Although still in its testing infancy, mice research has verified that creatine supplementation may even add some time to our lives here. Since our cells are receiving the help of the extra creatine to perform functions, they do not have to work as hard as they would alone (because they are not having to continually regenerate creatine); thus, they stay alive and around longer, increasing their lifespan (and, potentially, ours).
How to Take Creatine Monohydrate
Contrary to popular belief, there is actually no “loading” phase necessary and you can take it all at once or spread it throughout the day. I find spooning it into my mouth and chasing it with water to be the easiest way. It has no taste and just a grainy feel in the mouth that dissolves with water. To figure out your creatine amounts, take your bodyweight in pounds x 0.15 = grams of creatine. So, a 150 lb person would consume 22.5 grams of creatine (or roughly 4 heaping teaspoons).
Suggestions for Creatine Uptake
What Not To Do
*only key note here to mention as a suggestion (since I absolutely adore, love, and am obsessed with coffee, especially for the workout benefits) you should avoid taking your creatine with any a.m. caffeine or while you are low-carb, which should be during the daylight hours. Studies, like this one and this one have linked a creatine and coffee mix (in the absence of carbs) as actually counter to the benefits you’re trying to gain, for it can prevent a rise in your intracellular creatine levels. However, in the presence of carbs, like around dinner when you are carb backloading, here if you’re having some caffeine (for whatever reasons) here creatine will not be affected.
What To Do
Morning/afternoon: take it before resistance training in the absence of caffeine
Night: take it with your carbs or before bed
OR DO ALL OF THE ABOVE!
So, go get your creatine monohydrate today and start reaping its excellent benefits! With this supplement, you can’t go wrong!
Photo Credits: Tamarindo Family Photos