By Virginia Halpin, PTA
Creatine is a natural amino acid found in high concentrations in our muscles and brain where it helps to produce energy. About half of our creatine stores come from our diet – red meat, seafood, and poultry. The other half is made from our kidneys, pancreas, and liver.
More recently, creatine supplements have been vastly popular amongst athletes in order to increase lean muscle mass and improve sport performance.
Why Do People Take Creatine Supplements?
Creatine has become a widely used ergogenic aid for athletes training for and competing in power sports such as football, hockey, wrestling, bodybuilding, cycling, and weightlifting.
Research has shown that taking 3-5 g per day can:
- Increase strength
- increase fat free mass
- increase the appearance of a muscle
- Increase muscle energy during activity
- Enhance recovery and reduce muscle damage at a faster rate following an injury
- Decrease inflammation in the muscles following intense exercise
- Decrease cramping, heat illness or dehydration, muscle tightness, and muscle strains
How to Take Creatine?
It can be found both in pill and powder form. It is a versatile powder that can easily be mixed with other supplements, such as:
- Pre-Workout Shake
- Post-Workout Shake
When is the Best Time to Take Creatine Supplements?
Some may think that the timing of when an individual takes this supplement is important in order to optimize performance gains, however there is little to suggest whether taking creatine immediately before or immediately after a workout is more beneficial. It depends on when you exercise and what works best for you.
How Long Should I Take Creatine?
It is recommended that individuals consume roughly 3-5 g/day for a minimum of four weeks in order to see the effects of creatine.
What are the Risks when Taking Creatine Supplements?
Potential health risks to taking creatine supplements may include weight gain, dehydration, and possible kidney damage, but some research suggests the only negative side effect of taking this supplement is weight gain. Creatine is a natural substance that the body produces and it is found in high amounts in food, it is not banned from any sport organization. It is recommended, however, that those taking this supplement are involved in sports training, consuming a well-balanced diet, knowledgeable about the appropriate use of the supplement, and not exceeding the recommended dosages. .
As always, talk to your healthcare provider prior to taking any supplements.
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