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Creatine: Understanding its Benefits and Safe Usage for Bodybuilders
When it comes to supplements in the fitness world, creatine stands as one of the most well-researched and popular choices. Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain foods and produced by the body. It plays a crucial role in the generation of adenosine triphosphate
(ATP), the primary energy source for muscle contractions. In this article, we will explore what creatine is, who can benefit from using it, its effects on bodybuilders, and how to use it safely.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that is composed of three amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. It is mainly stored in the muscles and used
during short bursts of intense physical activity. While creatine can be obtained through diet (from foods like red meat and fish), many athletes and
bodybuilders opt for creatine supplements to enhance their performance during high-intensity workouts.
Who Should Use Creatine?
Creatine has been extensively studied for its performance-enhancing properties, making it popular among athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts. It is most beneficial for individuals involved in strength training and high-intensity exercises, where short bursts of energy are essential.
Statistics on Bodybuilders and Creatine Usage
Creatine has fascinating statistics that highlight its significance in the sports and fitness industry. In September 2021, creatine usage was prevalent among
bodybuilders and athletes. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 40% of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I
athletes reported using creatine supplements. Among bodybuilders, this percentage was likely to be even higher.
The Truth about Safety: Death Rate and Side Effects
It is crucial to address concerns regarding the safety of creatine usage. There have been no reported cases of death directly attributed to creatine supplementation. Creatine is considered safe for most people when taken within the recommended dosage.
potential side effects
- Gastrointestinal Distress: Some individuals may experience bloating, cramps, or diarrhea.
- Dehydration: Creatine draws water into the muscles, so it is essential to stay adequately hydrated when using it.
- Kidney Strain: There is no substantial evidence to suggest that creatine causes kidney damage in healthy individuals. However, individuals with pre- existing kidney conditions should consult a healthcare professional before using creatine.
It’s essential to follow recommended dosages and avoid prolonged usage of high doses to minimize the risk of adverse effects.
The Positive Effects of Creatine
When used correctly, creatine can offer several benefits to bodybuilders:
- Increased Strength: Creatine has been shown to improve strength during resistance training, leading to enhanced performance in weightlifting and other exercises.
- Muscle Growth: By promoting water retention in muscle cells, creatine contributes to an increase in muscle volume, stimulating muscle growth.
- Enhanced Exercise Performance: Creatine provides quick energy for short bursts of intense activity, allowing bodybuilders to perform better during high-
Do bodybuilders take carnitine? Any differences from Creatine?
Yes, bodybuilders and athletes sometimes take carnitine as a supplement to support their fitness goals. While both carnitine and creatine supplements are used by some bodybuilders and athletes, they have different roles and mechanisms of action. Carnitine is thought to support fat metabolism and energy production, while creatine helps enhance rapid energy production during intense, short-duration activities.
How to Use Creatine Safely
To use creatine safely and effectively
- Start with a Loading Phase (Optional): Some people prefer to start with a loading phase (typically 20 grams per day for 5-7 days) to saturate the muscles with creatine more quickly. However, it is not necessary, and you can skip this step and move to the maintenance phase.
- Maintenance Phase: After the loading phase, take 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate per day, ideally after workouts or with meals.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to support creatine’s effects and prevent dehydration.
- Cycle Creatine Intake (Optional): While not mandatory, some individuals choose to cycle their creatine usage by taking it for 8-12 weeks, followed by a
break of 4 weeks.
Types Of Creatine
- Creatine monohydrate: Usually the most highly recommended form of creatine due to the most research backing and safety data. This form is considered the gold standard for creatine supplementation. This form is abundantly available in-store and on various online retailer sites and tends to be very affordable. There are many companies to choose from that produce this product. When most people think of creatine, or go shopping for this supplement, this is the form they buy and use. Micronized forms have been processed more to improve water solubility.
- Creatine ethyl ester: Some studies have claimed this form is absorbed differently than other forms. The studies that exist show mixed results on whether the ethyl ester formulation has better muscle uptake than creatine monohydrate.
- Creatine hydrochloride: This form might be beneficial due to high water solubility, but research is lacking. There are very few, if any, published studies with creatine hydrochloride use in humans.
- Liquid creatine: Most all other form of creatine come in powders that are mixed in liquid right before ingesting. The liquid form is not considered superior to the powders.
- Creatine magnesium chelate: Taking this form gives you a dose of magnesium along with the creatine.
- Buffered creatine: The idea behind this form of creatine is to increase the ability of creatine to survive longer in the acid environment of the stomach by buffering the pH. Buffered creatine was also created to help alleviate side effects such as stomach cramping and bloating. Some studies have shown this to be the case when compared to the monohydrate powder formulations.
- Creatine nitrate: One of the newest forms of creatine to hit the market. The goal was to reduce the necessary creatine dose. Research is new and has mixed results at this time.
- Creatine citrate: Creatine is attached to citric acid from fruits. While this does improve solubility, it has not been shown to improve human absorption.
- Creatine malate: Like the citrate formulation, malic acid from fruits is attached to creatine. The idea was to improve performance stamina, but solid research studies are lacking.
- Creatine gluconate: Creatine is attached to a sugar molecule in this form. Research to show its effectiveness is lacking.
- Creatine pyruvate: Creatine is attached to pyruvic acid in this form. Studies have mixed results on whether is form is better for muscle endurance.
Creatine is a safe and effective supplement for bodybuilders and athletes involved in high-intensity exercises. When used correctly and within recommended dosages, creatine can lead to increased strength, muscle growth, and improved exercise performance.