Creatine is one of the most popular sports supplements today especially for improving performance in the gym. According to studies, creatine can increase muscle mass, strength and exercise performance. In addition, it also possesses a number of other health benefits including protection against neurological disease.
So What is Creatine?
Creatine is a natural compound that can be found in our body, more specifically in muscle cells where it can help produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. Taking creatine as a supplement is very popular among athletes and bodybuilders in order to gain muscle, enhance strength and improve exercise performance. Chemically Creatine shares many similarities with amino acids and, in fact, your body can create it from the amino acids glycine and arginine.
There are many factors that affect your body’s creatine stores, including the amount of muscle mass, level of meat consumption, exercise and levels of hormones i.e. Testosterone
When you introduce a creatine supplement, you increase your stores of phosphocreatine. This is a form of energy stored in the cells, which helps your body produce more ATP a high energy molecule. ATP is often called the body’s energy currency. When you have more ATP, your body can perform better during exercise. Creatine also alters several cellular processes that lead to increased muscle mass, strength and recovery.
How Does Creatine Work?
There are several ways creatine can improve athletic performance and overall health. When doing high-intensity exercise, its main role is to increase the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles.
Below is a list of ways it can help you gain muscle:
- Boost your workload
- Improved cell signalling
- Raise anabolic hormones
- Cell hydration increase
- Reduced breakdown of protein
- Lower myostatin levels
Creatine is shown to have a positive effect on muscle gain. Supplementing with creatine can result in significant increase in muscle mass. This applies to both untrained individuals and elite athletes. As previously mentioned ATP is your body’s energy currency and Creatine increases your body’s capacity to produce ATP which is key improving strength and high-intensity exercise performance.
Creatine’s Potential Brain Health Effects
Like your muscles, your brain stores phosphocreatine and requires plenty of ATP for optimal function. Studies have linked the use of creatine supplements to improvement in the following conditions
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Ischemic stroke
- Brain or spinal cord injuries
- Motor neuron disease
- Memory and brain function in older adults
Despite the potential benefits of creatine for treating neurological disease, most current research has been performed on animals. Creatine is also helpful to vegetarians as they tend to have low creatine stores due to the absence of meat in their diet. It may also combat high blood sugar and fatty liver disease and improve muscle function in older adults. At this time, however, more research on humans needs to be done in this area to verify these studies.
Is Creatine Safe?
Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements on the market today, and studies lasting up to four years reveal no negative effects. in one of the most comprehensive studies 52 blood markers were measured and observed no adverse effects following 21 months of supplementing.No evidence exists that creatine harms the liver and kidneys in healthy people who take normal doses. That being said, those with pre existing liver or kidney issues should consult with a doctor before supplementing
It’s commonly believed that creatine causes dehydration and cramps, research doesn’t support this however In fact, studies suggest it can reduce cramps and dehydration during endurance exercise in high temperatures.
Creatine is one of the cheapest, most effective and safest supplements available. It supports quality of life in older adults, brain health and exercise performance whilst also helping vegetarians with no meat intake maintain a good level of creatine in their muscles.
So if any of this appeals, why not give Creatine a try?
As always, if you have any health concerns or existing conditions, check with a health professional before trying new supplements.