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What Does Creatine Do, And How Does It Work?

By Gavin Van De Walle | In Supplements | on May 3, 2017
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Creatine is one of the most popular sports supplements on the market. It gives you the majority of energy for short-term, maximum exercise such as sprinting a 100m, or lifting weights. But, creatine is also one of the most misunderstood sports supplements. Some claim creatine supplementation is dangerous and unsafe, despite its widespread use.


What is Creatine?

Creatine is naturally produced in your body from amino acids – the building blocks of protein. It’s also found in protein-rich foods, mainly meat and fish. But, you would need to eat a lot of meat and fish to obtain an appreciable amount of creatine. This makes supplementing with creatine an inexpensive and efficient way to increase creatine intake.


How Does Creatine Work?

Creatine helps to regenerate a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body’s main source of energy. When creatine stores in your muscles are depleted, the production of ATP comes to a screeching halt and your energy is dramatically decreased. Supplementing with creatine increases the available fuel to power ATP, which can increase muscle strength, size and power output.

what does creatine do


Who Can Benefit?

Supplementing with creatine is not just for bodybuilders; several types of athletes can benefit like sprinters, swimmers, and soccer players. Creatine supplementation also can help increase your strength, power, and muscle size making it useful for sports like football and hockey. But, creatine supplementation isn’t effective for exercise and events lasting more than 90 seconds, for example long-distance running.

what does creatine do


How to Take Creatine

Creatine is supplemented through one of two ways. The first way is called ‘loading.’ The loading phase requires taking 20 g of creatine in split doses for 5-7 days. Following the loading phase, 3-5 g of creatine is supplemented daily. This is called the maintenance phase. The idea of loading creatine is to saturate the muscle cells with creatine resulting in faster results. Supplementing with 3-5 g, without the loading phase, is the other method. Choosing this route will get you the same results as loading, but it will take you longer to experience the full benefits of creatine.

Regardless of the method you choose, cycling creatine is not needed. Cycling creatine means going “on” and “off” creatine every couple of weeks. People who recommend creatine cycling claim that it will maximize the effects of creatine and is needed to give your body a break. But the truth is, creatine cycling will not give you any added benefit over not cycling creatine.


When to Take Creatine

There are two general recommendations when it comes to supplementing with creatine. The first is to take creatine before your workout because it increases your strength. The second is to take creatine after your workout because it absorbs better.

According to one study, taking creatine after your workout is best. For the study, 19 male recreational bodybuilders were randomly divided into two groups. One group took 5 g of creatine before their workout while the other group took 5 g after their workout. For 4 weeks, the men trained 5 days a week and kept their protein intake similar.

At the end of the 4 weeks, researchers found that those who took creatine after their workout gained more muscle mass than those taking creatine before their workout. However, the benefit was insignificant. Meaning, the advantage of taking creatine after exercise could have occurred by chance.

The timing of creatine doesn’t seem to matter. This is because creatine has no immediate effects on strength or muscle size. Only when your body is fully saturated with creatine will you benefit from it. Therefore, take creatine when it’s convenient for you, whether it’s in the morning, before your workout, after your workout, or at night.

what does creatine do


Creatine Safety

Creatine is one of the safest sports supplements there is, yet many myths about creatine linger. The main concern is that creatine damages your kidneys. But there is zero data to support this notion. In fact, there are several studies showing that creatine has absolutely no effect on kidney function in healthy people. One study  found no changes in kidney function between collegiate football players who supplemented with creatine and those who didn’t for nearly two years. What’s more is that another study showed no changes in kidney function for individuals consuming 10 g – twice the recommended daily dose – of creatine for 12 weeks.

Others claim that creatine supplementation can cause dehydration, injury and stomach cramps, however, to date there have been no studies showing that creatine supplementation causes any of these issues.


The Best Creatine Supplements

If you’re wondering what creatine supplements to take then why not try one of the following:

Creatine Monohydrate – this is the most popularly used creatine supplement, and it should definitely be part of your supplement stack.

Creapure® – this is an extremely pure form of Creatine Monohydrate

✓ Creatine Ethyl Ester HCL – this is a highly available form of creatine, which has been attached to an ester salt to increase the uptake of creatine into the muscle and reduces water retention in comparison to creatine monohydrate.


The Verdict

what does creatine do

Creatine Monohydrate is perhaps the most inexpensive, safest, and beneficial dietary supplement there is. It simply works!

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13 Comments to "What Does Creatine Do, And How Does It Work?"

  • David miller says:

    April 28, 2016 at 16:57 - Reply

    My name is dave miller .i have bin threw 2 rounds of radiation treetments in last ten years . i have lost 150 lb and half. Of mussel mass now 2 rotater cuf problems how do i get size and mass back training alone is not helping i am 54 years old n stay in shape please help

    1. Myprotein says:

      April 28, 2016 at 19:34 - Reply

      Hi Dave, thanks for your comment. Best thing to do is have a chat with your doctor or dietitian, but this post may help too: http://us.myprotein.com/thezone/nutrition/hard-gainer-how-to-gain-mass/ Good luck

    2. Randy Nelson says:

      June 16, 2016 at 18:34 - Reply

      Try SuperSlow strength training as described in the book Body By Science. I am part owner of a SuperSlow Zone strength training facility in Huntsville, AL and we have helped all kinds of people gain muscle mass and get strong. I am 56 years old and I am stronger than I have ever been in my life. You can learn more at superslowzone.com or sszhuntsville.com.

      1. stuart says:

        April 23, 2017 at 14:53 - Reply

        hi randy i could do with some help in guiding me i suffer with epilepsy and various other illness im starting to train as from tomorrow in my local gym i have some creatine powder and max power supplement how best is to to take before or after ?

    3. Slade says:

      November 15, 2016 at 22:36 - Reply

      Hey man, I don’t know if you still need help but there’s lots of data saying that older people should be taking HGH (Human Growth Hormone) or GH (Growth Hormone). Look into it, I’m sure it would help.

  • April says:

    November 10, 2016 at 17:22 - Reply

    What would be a good amount of creatine for me to take. I work out for about 30 minutes everyday or every other day and i focus on lower body building muscle building. I have these creatine supplements that are 750 mg a pill. Not sure how often to take them. Thanks!

    1. Myprotein says:

      December 5, 2016 at 17:02 - Reply

      Hi, when it comes to creatine you should be looking to consume 5-10g a day. The pills you’re currently taking are providing 0.75g of creatine per pill. With the amount of time you spend working out it would be beneficial to take 5g creatine pre workout to benefit your training. This means you would be looking at taking 6-7 pills a day, but this is not very practical. Why not try Myprotein Creatine Monohydrate powder. Each serving is 5g and you can easily mix it with water or a shake and take it pre workout. It is best to take creatine for 6 weeks and then take 1 week off before beginning a new 6 week cycle.

  • Treg Olson says:

    January 22, 2017 at 22:17 - Reply

    Hey my names Treg Olson. i’m a junior in high school and my friends recommended this to me. i’m tired of people calling me skinny. i eat a lot trust me. i work hard in the weight room and nothing seems to be working. i’m very tone and athletic. i want to stay like that but increase my muscle mass and strength. i’m currently about 165lbs. i’m thinking about buying this product but not sure which steps to take in getting to look the way i want to look. Help me please

    1. matt says:

      April 5, 2017 at 19:06 - Reply

      Hi Olson this is a great product to add to your stack but honestly the best results come from the kitchen. I know you say you eat alot me also being skinney for most of my life i understand. One trick i did and it helped me was to eat every 2 hours not large meals as they will fill you up and keep you from eating as often. Try eat around 300 cals every 2 hours and between meals snack on something light i like mini wheats as they are high in cals and have a decent amount of protein in them. Best of Luck

  • Treg Olson says:

    January 22, 2017 at 22:21 - Reply

    Also i work out about 3 or 4 times a week for school

  • Manjeet says:

    April 16, 2017 at 04:03 - Reply

    Hi i am a gym beginner and want to use creatine and whey protein. My weight is 79kg .how i get lean muscle body. And which is best in preworkout and creatine.

  • Logan says:

    May 6, 2017 at 22:34 - Reply

    Hi my name’s Logan and i work out for 2 hours a day, 6 days a week and I’m wondering how much I should take per day and if I should drink a lot of water before I take creatine. Also how long exactly would it take before creatine gets completely through your system and start gaining muscle mass?

  • Meera says:

    May 16, 2017 at 00:41 - Reply

    Should women take it

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