Creatine is one of the most widely used supplements among athletes in almost every sport, and for good reason too. Over the years, creatine has been shown to promote the following benefits:
Increased muscle strength
Greater muscle power
WHAT IS CREATINE?
Creatine is one of the most widely used supplements among athletes in almost every sport, and for good reason too. Over the years, creatine has been shown to promote the following benefits:
Increased muscle strength
Greater muscle power
Greater muscle size
Better athletic performance
More energy for feelings of fulfillment and a general well-being in life
…which we’ll discuss in-depth later. For now, let’s focus on what creatine is exactly, how it works, and the possibility of whether or not this supplement can lead to possible side effects – if there are any to begin with.
Creatine is a compound very similar to protein and is mostly found in fish and meat. Creatine is synthesised from the three amino acids methionine, glycine, and arginine – mostly in the liver. One of the key factors of why creatine is so important for growth is the notion that muscle tissue does not produce creatine on its own. Instead, it takes up creatine from the bloodstream – which it then uses to perform the natural chemical processes that occur in the body.
Upon entering the muscle cell, a high-energy phosphate gets attached to creatine, and it transforms this compound into phosphocreatine or, simply – creatine phosphate. Creatine phosphate is very important for the normal functioning of the body – especially true when it comes to providing energy to power up those lifts back at the gym. This happens because creatine transfers its phosphate to produce adenosine triphosphate – or ATP. ATP plays a major role in the contraction of the muscles, which is extremely important for performing intense exercises such as sprinting, weight lifting, or even two-court basketball drills.
Creatine supplementation increases phosphocreatine production by at least 20%. Even a slight increase in phosphocreatine can lead to elevated adenosine triphosphate levels – a process that boils down to more power, stamina, motivation, and ultimately faster muscle growth.
High-quality creatine products are a proven concept that works like a charm – granted you’re following the instructions and not tampering with the ascribed dosage. Below, you can read some of the multitude of benefits that creatine supplementation offers:
Creatine Promotes Muscle Strength
A study from 1997 followed two groups of untrained subjects – the first group was given creatine, while the second group was subjected to a placebo pill program. Then, both groups underwent an identical weight-lifting program – which yielded different outcomes for the two groups of participants. The group that took creatine showed a 25% increase in their one-rep maximum doing squats – as opposed to the placebo group whose subjects didn’t saw any improvement whatsoever.
Another double-blind study placed two groups of participants on anaerobic performance measures, including vertical jumps, 3-cone drills, bench presses, and more. The first group was supplemented with creatine for 28 days, while the second group was assigned to a placebo treatment for that same amount of time. The results were clear: the participants who took creatine saw a significant improvement in agility, upper-body endurance and strength, lower-body vertical power, and their ability to change direction.
Creatine Boosts Muscle Growth
Multiple studies confirm the fact that creatine promotes muscle growth as well. In one study from the University of Queensland, 18 powerlifters with at least two years of professional training took creatine supplementation and underwent through several exercises, including body composition, near-maximal muscular strength, and high-intensity bench press workouts. The results showed a clear correlation between supplementing with creatine and an increase in all three factors as opposed to another group that was given placebo pills instead. And the best part is: the creatine group saw no changes in their body fat percentage at all.
Another double-blind study found that participants who took creatine supplementation saw a significant increase in their upper arm muscular area, as well as overall muscle mass relative to a placebo group. In fact, the creatine group saw a staggering 14 kg increase in their body mass – while their body fat percentage remained unchanged!
Creatine Enhances Athletic Performance
As we’ve seen above, creatine enhances athletic performance in almost every major discipline that involves weights or otherwise. As a matter of fact, creatine products improve performance in the following exercises:
All kinds of aerobic
…as well as anaerobic exercises
Plus a ton more!
Additionally, this highly potent hormone increases the power output during short exercise bursts after a given pause. This is great news for soccer, basketball, and tennis players – just to name a few – since they can experience up to a 20% increase in their power output during their second exercise bouts.
BUT HOW DOES CREATINE WORK?
As we’ve seen above, creatine works in numerous ways to make significant improvements in muscle strength, growth, and provide an additional boost in the overall performance in varying sports disciplines. Creatine is a complex compound that works in a multitude ways, but one of its major benefits comes from the increase in creatine phosphate levels in the muscles. This process enables athletes to push their muscles to the ultimate limit, like making that last burst of energy in sprint finishes or pushing for one more rep while weight-lifting. Given enough time, this ability to make more reps will ultimately result in bigger and stronger muscles.
Additionally, creatine also works through a process known as muscle cell volumization. Simply speaking, this means that creatine takes the water from the blood (and other fluids) and redirects it to the cells in the muscles. The end process is muscle cell volumization, while the chemical process during which all of this takes place is called osmosis. In fact, everything the body does while on creatine supplementation results in stretching the cell membranes and finally – greater protein synthesis or long-term muscle growth.
FORMS OF CREATINE
The most common, commercially available types of creatine are:
This form of creatine is not so expensive – yet it provides users with decent results for an excellent bargain. Plus, the majority of clinical studies are done using creatine monohydrate as the main creatine source, so be sure that you’re getting the better of two worlds (quality and price). Here’s an in-depth look at how creatine monohydrate can help to make the most out of your workout.
Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most popular supplements on the market. This compound helps trainers to maximize performance, build lean muscle mass, increase strength, and more.
However, despite being one of the most rigorously researched sports ingredients available, there is still a huge pile of misinformation that exists both online and offline as well. Thankfully, we’ve written this guide in the hopes of putting an end to the speculation and answer the most important questions about creatine monohydrate that you may have.
Finally, below we’ll be using the terms “creatine” and “creatine monohydrate” interchangeably since the majority of popular creatine supplements are using creatine monohydrate by default.
Creatine Monohydrate Facts
What is Creatine Monohydrate Made From?
Creatine monohydrate is synthesized from two compounds: cyanamide and sarcosine. The final product is a non-nitrogenous protein comprised of three amino acids: methionine, arginine, and glycine.
How Does Creatine Monohydrate Affect your Performance?
This can vary depending on your physiological structure and on how you choose to take it. Trainers who employ a loading regimen will often see the first improvements in 24-72 hours. However, trainers who opt for the slower approach of 5 grams of creatine monohydrate per day, usually are expected to see the first improvements within 5-8 days.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Help you Lift More Weight?
Yes, creatine monohydrate can help you in this endeavor, but not directly. Currently, there are no known clinical trials to suggest that creatine monohydrate alone can increase your 1 repetition maximum (RM). With that being said, however, Creatine Monohydrate allows you to gradually introduce more low repetition ranges with higher weight, which indirectly trains and adapts your muscles to expect more weight in the future – therefore increasing your 1RM.
Is Creatine Monohydrate Suitable for Women?
The answer is yes, creatine monohydrate is as beneficial to women as it is for men. Women can use this type of creatine for loading, cutting, or utilise its benefits for other types of training regiments. However, since women tend to weigh less than men in general, they’ll typically need lower doses to maintain an optimum creatine phase. So, instead of the usual 5 grams, women should opt for taking 3 grams of creatine monohydrate instead.
Can You Retain Mass After Stopping with Creatine Monohydrate?
Again, the answer would be yes. You may experience a slight decrease in lean muscle volume and overall weight because of lower levels of water retention in the muscles. However, the actual muscle mass will remain intact long after you’ve stopped taking creatine monohydrate.
Is Creatine Monohydrate Suitable to Take Before Bed?
Yes, it can be. However, results and dosage may vary in accordance with your body type, weight, existing issues, etc. Make sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner about whether or not you should take creatine monohydrate before bed.
Is Creatine Monohydrate Loading Possible?
Loading regimens as those mentioned above (taking more than 5 grams of creatine per day) are not a requirement for creatine to be effective. You can achieve a so-called “creatine saturation” by taking the usual dose of about 5 grams daily. With that being said, keep in mind that loading protocols tend to increase the rate at which creatine becomes most efficient for your body.
Creatine Monohydrate on Off Days, Yes or No?
For optimal results, you should definitely take creatine monohydrate on your off days. In fact, you should take creatine monohydrate regardless of whether you’re going to the gym that day or not. This regimen will put a constant flux of creatine to your muscles so that you’re at the ready anytime, anywhere.
Do You Need to Cycle Creatine Monohydrate?
It depends. Creatine monohydrate and proper creatine monohydrate use is not dangerous for your health. However, cycling can be smart since, unless all your workouts tend to be comprised of HIIT sessions, you’re not really using creatine monohydrate as a source of energy. Creatine mostly comes into play when you’re straining your muscles to the fullest, i.e. lifting a very heavy weight, sprinting, and more. Since most trainers don’t do this kind of heavy training all the time, it’s only rational to cycle creatine to spare your muscles from the extra stress, and even spare your bank account as well.
Is it Better to take Creatine Monohydrate Before or After Workout?
As we mentioned, timing creatine is not the most important aspect of creatine supplementation. The key to nailing creatine supplementation to get the most optimal results is consistency. However, some bodybuilding professionals recommend taking creatine post-workout for a tad bit better and more potent overall results.
How do You Best Take Creatine Monohydrate?
Chugging creatine with ample amounts of water can help you alleviate any potential stomach problems (cramps, indigestion) that you may have. In addition, taking creatine alongside rich meals can also play a major role in increasing the absorption of creatine and making sure that creatine reaches all important tissues in the body.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Help you Lose Fat?
Taking creatine is not known to decrease body fat by itself. However, taking creatine can indirectly help you with fat-loss by increasing the volume and intensity of your training sessions. In fact, one of the biggest tells of fat loss during training is the ability to get more work done, and creatine can definitely help you increase the amount of hard work that you put in daily.
Is Creatine Monohydrate Safe to Use for Teens?
The short answer is yes, creatine monohydrate is indeed safe for teens. However, make sure that you consult with your healthcare professional to determine if you’re eligible for including this compound into your diet.
Is Creatine Monohydrate Safe to Use for Seniors?
Yes. In fact, seniors can reap immense benefits from using creatine, since this compound can protect against neurocognitive decline and prevent any potential damages to the brain function as individuals grow older. Currently, there are several clinical trials going on to further investigate the potential benefits that creatine may have for seniors.
Can Creatine Monohydrate Potentially Harm Your Liver?
There is no real evidence to suggest that creatine monohydrate can harm your liver. This applies if you properly follow product labels and use a normal dose of creatine as indicated by a certified nutritionist. Plus, make sure that you drink plenty of water when you take creatine and you’d be good to go.
Is Mixing Creatine with Whey Protein Healthy?
Yes. In fact, a recent study suggests that creatine and whey protein work together to provide you with even more potent and promising results than if you’d take each of these supplements separately.
Is it Safe to Take Creatine Monohydrate with Milk?
Absolutely yes. A good analogy to this would be taking creatine with some whey protein and some additional carbs. If you happen to be fond of milk and enjoy the taste of it, go right ahead and combine it with creatine for the best results!
Is Taking Creatine Monohydrate Linked to Cancer?
There is no current scientific evidence that links creatine with an increased rate of cancer. For years, people have voiced different opinions on the possible carcinogenic nature of creatine. Some have even claimed that creatine turns into different carcinogenic compounds in the body once taken in (mainly heterocyclic amines).
However, this claim is wrong. A study where participants received both high and low doses of creatine showed no increase in these carcinogenic chemicals derived from creatine supplementation.
What Exactly is Micronized Creatine Monohydrate?
To put it simply, micronized creatine is just creatine monohydrate ground down to a finer powder form. This process makes creatine easier to dissolve in water whilst also retaining all beneficial properties of this compound. Plus, micronized creatine is also easier to digest and is perfect for those trainers affected by various digestive discomforts (bloating, cramps).
Does Caffeine Hamper the Effectiveness of Creatine?
There is no current evidence to suggest that caffeine can suppress the beneficial properties of creatine. However, consuming large amounts of these two compounds (caffeine and creatine) at the same time can put a strain on the liver, so make sure to consult with your dietitian about whether or not you should take these ingredients at the same time (and also determine a proper dosage). Apart from that, there is no apparent danger from including caffeine in your fitness program whilst also taking creatine.
Is Creatine Monohydrate Vegan-Friendly?
The majority of commercial creatine products are synthesized in a laboratory from a reaction between two compounds called “cyanamide” and “sarcosine”. These two compounds do not have any direct correlation with animal products – therefore it’s safe to assume that creatine monohydrate is vegan.
For trainers who are keeping a strict vegan diet, you can always check the manufacturing process of the supplier and determine if their creatine supplement is vegan-friendly.
Is Creatine Monohydrate Known To Have Any Long-Term Side Effects?
No. Creatine monohydrate supplementation does not lead to any long-term side effects health-wise.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Help You Lose Weight?
Creatine does not decrease your body weight by itself. However, creatine can indirectly help you lose fat by increasing the intensity at which you train. In fact, one of the biggest indicators of weight and fat loss during training is the fact about how much work can you put in. In this light, creatine can help you to increase your training by a significant stretch of a margin – and therefore lead to a 100% healthy and natural weight loss.
How Much Time Is Needed to Notice Any Effects of Creatine Monohydrate?
The time it takes to notice the first beneficial effects of creatine monohydrate are usually measured in the time of days. However, these effects will vary from one person to another and will also depend on how and when you take your creatine as well. Those users who follow a loading regimen will usually see the first major improvements in 24-72 hours. Individuals who take the normal approach (around 5 grams of creatine supplementation per day) will begin to notice results within 5-8 days.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Carry a Risk for Kidney Stones?
No. There is no evidence to suggest that creatine monohydrate causes kidney stones.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Cause Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)?
Creatine “pushes” more fluid between the intracellular space, which means that cells will have more volume as compared to the circulation in the body. This process does not cause any rapid changes in the blood pressure levels and is not a reason to worry for those trainers susceptible to high blood pressure. If however, you’re already experiencing high blood pressure and/or prescribed to medications such as angiotensin receptor blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, then it would be both necessary and wise to consult with your physician before including creatine in your diet.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Cause Heart Problems?
Based on current research and data, all evidence suggests that creatine does not seem to cause cardiac issues. In fact, a recent study has shown that creatine supplementation can in actuality have positive effects on the cardiovascular system during a demanding physical exertion.
Is Creatine Monohydrate Safe for Diabetics?
Yes, creatine is indeed safe to consume for people with diabetes. What’s more, creatine may, in fact, help to regulate glucose levels in those affected by type 2 diabetes. This notion was supported by a recent study that examined the relationship between creatine supplementation and diabetes. In it, participants showed an increased GLUT4 translocation (a type of glucose transporter protein) after they were subjected to creatine supplementation daily for a total period of 10 weeks.
Can You Bulk with Creatine Monohydrate?
The answer is: it depends. The longer answer is that creatine is a tool that helps you to achieve your fitness goals regardless of what they might be. To this extent, you can either use creatine by itself during your bulking phase, or you can stack this ingredient with other supplements for the ultimate gains. Most trainers will combine creatine monohydrate with other products to see faster and more efficacious results.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Have an Expiration Date?
As most products, creatine does indeed have an expiration date – especially if it comes from a manufacturer that does not use preservatives in their creatine monohydrate formulas. However, the shelf life of most high-quality creatine supplements is 36 months, meaning that most users don’t need to worry about their product expiring before they have the chance to use it.
Can You Take Creatine Without Gaining Weight?
Yes. In theory, you can take creatine and avoid gaining weight by getting rid of body fat while taking this supplement. However, you will most likely experience gains in the so-called “water weight” department, since this is one of the indicators that your creatine product is working properly. In fact, the sole use of creatine monohydrate comes with some minor water weight gain. With that being said, if your only goal is to lose weight quickly and avoid gaining even a pound of additional weight, then maybe creatine supplementation is not the right choice for you at that time.
Can I Take Creatine Monohydrate only Occasionally?
If by “occasionally”, you plan on taking creatine once a week – then the answer would be most likely no. This approach doesn’t work because your body needs to accrue creatine in order for it to have any effect on building muscles. If however, you’re going through a period of your workout where you are engaging in more low-intensity types of training, then it might be fine to take a few week or months off of creatine monohydrate.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Suppress Your Appetite?
There is no concurrent evidence to suggest that creatine can potentially reduce your appetite.
Is it Safe to Combine Creatine Monohydrate With Anabolic Gainers?
The answer is yes. Creatine can be taken in combination with almost any type of anabolic gainers. This is because creatine works independently of how most other anabolic products work, so it’s very likely that the two (or more) products will work synergistically to surmount to an excellent “stack”. For instance, Beta-Alanine is one of those supplements that work wonders when paired together with creatine. These two compounds utilise two very different approaches to increase your endurance via a high-intensity style of training.
Can You Take Creatine Monohydrate in a Hot Climate?
Taking creatine in a hot climate is not dangerous on its own, however, do remember that creatine supplementation significantly increases your requirements for water. When you train in a hot climate, make sure that you’re adequately addressing your body’s need for all that extra water.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Make Your Penis Smaller?
As funny as this question may sound, there is no shame in asking when it comes to your health. The answer is no, there is no current evidence to suggest that taking creatine can make your penis smaller, but quite the contrary; a recent study has shown that creatine can, in fact, increase the function and fertility of your sperm. The study, however, was done on a sperm in a dish, so more research may potentially be needed.
Can Creatine Monohydrate Usage Lead to Cramps?
No, creatine has not been shown to directly cause cramps. With that being said, creatine is known to increase intracellular water and decrease the levels of some electrolytes in the body. Therefore, you will probably need to consume additional micronutrients, such as magnesium and sodium, to somewhat balance things out. More research needs to be done however to determine the exact role of creatine supplementation and cramps.
Is Creatine Beneficial for Runners?
Yes, creatine can be useful for runners, but the benefits are likely to be smaller in runners than in trainers who mainly utilise their phosphagen system during training.
This happens because endurance athletes such as runners are primarily using the oxidative system during their workouts. Besides the oxidative system, there are two other main systems that produce energy in the body, and these include the phosphagen and the glycolytic energy systems. Contrary to popular belief, the body uses all three systems at all gives times, but this varies with the intensity, duration, and type of workout as well as the build of the individuals doing the workout themselves. So, creatine can somewhat help runners to achieve better results, but the benefits will be significantly smaller.
Is Creatine Monohydrate Safe For Women who Breastfeed?
There is no evidence to suggest that creatine monohydrate is harmful to breastfeeding women. But, make sure to consult with your local obstetrician if you happen to be nursing and consider taking creatine.
What if Creatine Monohydrate is Upsetting Your Stomach?
Usually, this happens due to the lack of water in your body, so adding some extra hydration to your diet should most likely solve your issue. In addition, not all creatine products are of high-quality, so if you continue to experience stomach cramps, bloating, or indigestion despite taking extra water – consider replacing your existing creatine product with a more quality one.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Help You Heal Injuries?
Creatine is a very beneficial supplement, but there is no current or historical evidence to suggest that creatine can help you in overcoming injuries. Still, taking creatine whilst healing from injuries is a viable option, as this will help you in keeping both your readiness and motivation levels at the ready.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Interfere with Drugs and Medicines?
As we mentioned, creatine is a small peptide made of 3 amino acids which are also produced naturally in the body. Therefore, it shouldn’t interfere with any medicines in theory. But, if you do happen to take any medicines, then make sure to consult with your physician prior to including creatine as a supplement.
Can You Target Specific Muscle Groups with Creatine Monohydrate?
The answer is no -- creatine will be utilised by practically all tissues and organs in the body. Plus, there is no known commercially available method of making creatine target specific tissues as of now. Perhaps with some advancements in technology (more precisely: nanotechnology), pharmaceutical companies and supplement manufacturers will devise a way to deliver tissue-specific creatine and make this process possible in the near future.
Is it Advisable to Cycle Different Creatine Monohydrate Products?
Cycling different creatine products is neither advisable nor completely safe. In fact, if you find one creatine product that works for you, then feel free to stick with that product until either it induces some kind of discomfort, or it stops being as effective as it was when you started taking this product.
What if I take Creatine Monohydrate and I Don’t Work Out?
If you take creatine without working out, your muscles will absorb the extra creatine and your body will store the extra water whilst continuing to function normally. Plus, you’ll see a small increase in your weight, but nothing too significant to disrupt your daily patterns. With all of that being said, however, taking creatine without spending that extra energy is not advisable and could potentially hurt your desired fitness goals in the long run.
On the other hand, there’s another form of creatine – called Hydrochloride. Basically, this high-quality supplement is creatine attached to hydrochloric acid. Both creatine hydrochloride and monohydrate are perfectly potent and can be the preferred supplement-choice for you.
CREATINE SUPPLEMENTS INGREDIENTS
Usually, most high-quality creatine supplements contain some combination of creatine and an additional ingredient that increases the product’s potency. The most common combinations are:
Magnesium Creatine Chelate
A highly potent pairing of creatine and magnesium. When these two compounds come together, the properties of creatine are enhanced so that the muscles get more of what they need, faster. This leads to increased muscle energy levels while also stopping muscle fatigue before it even has a chance to happen.
This type of creatine is a buffered creatine product. Kre-alkalyn is processed at higher pH levels as opposed to ‘plain’ creatine, meaning less of it gets converted to creatinine and thus it’s more effective for muscle growth.
Also known as dicreatine malate or tricreatine malate, this type of creatine is a product of a creatine and a malic acid bond. Malic acid enhances the ability of creatine to be absorbed faster in the body. In addition to that, malic acid is also responsible for less fatigue during, and especially after a workout.
Creatine plus alpha-ketoglutarate – this supplement type is an excellent nitric oxide booster, which significantly increases the product’s absorption rate relative to creatine monohydrate. Great for individuals looking for quicker and more explosive gains.
An excellent chemical pairing between creatine and a form of glucose. The glucose inclusion makes creatine gluconate to be faster absorbed in the body.
Or sometimes known as tricreatine orotate, this product is made by bonding creatine with orotic acid. This type of acid has the same building blocks as human DNA, and it stimulates the body to make quick energy for intense and rapid bursts of action.
No matter which form or type of a creatine supplement you prefer – all of them are bound to increase the ability of the muscles to work harder, longer, and with less effort than before taking these products. In short, your athletic abilities can only get better by including creatine supplements into your nutritional plan.
Creatine is also very effective in getting you muscle pumps. Although muscle pumps don't necessarily help you out physiologically in terms of building muscle mass, they will help with motivational levels. Shop from our wide range of creatine supplements and experience muscle mass gains like you’ve never done before.