Creatine. It is the most well known, as well as the most studied supplement in the business right behind whey. There are studies going back decades with fairly conclusive evidence that points to creatine being exceptionally Animal Removal Pros safe. However, if creatine has so many studies, then why does it have so much opposition? My opinion is that the majority of opposition is because of lack of understanding. Average people do not understand creatine. When a 12 year old boy wants to begin lifting weights and tells their mom they would like to purchase a magical powder that will make him big and strong, his mom is absolutely correct to worry. After all, something which makes you build muscle and strength is probably a steroid, right? Possibly. But that isn’t what creatine does.
The brief answer: Absolutely not. To understand why creatine is not a steroid, you must first understand what a steroid really is.
What are Steroids?
Why is it that men are nearly always more muscular than females? Why can a man naturally be 200 pounds of muscle, but a woman will not naturally reach that degree of muscularity? Simply put, males naturally produce a hormone called testosterone. You have most likely heard of it. It’s what causes his deep voice, body hair, facial hair, strength, and what we think of as manly instincts. It’s what causes males to fight over females, in human social settings and in nature. A performance enhancing steroid is essentially artificial testosterone, or other synthesized hormones that are actually more anabolic than testosterone. Some steroids aren’t even found in nature. Steroids can take some nasty side effects and a lot of health risks later on in life.
What is Creatine?
So now that we have a basic understanding of what steroids are, what is creatine?
Creatine is found in virtually every animal, including humans. We get it out of meat and we obviously synthesize it. Creatine is an entirely natural organic acid that provides cellular energy to your cells. It’s found in the greatest concentrations in muscle cells. Creatine and steroids can not even be compared. One works hormonally, one works inside of your cells obviously. Creatine will not make you superhuman like steroids. Steroids can push your body beyond physiological limits. With years of training and a great diet may be able to be a little over 200 pounds of lean muscle naturally. With steroids you can put on another 20-50 lbs. If you’re pushing your body past a natural limit, you’re putting multiple organs under intense stress, especially your heart. Creatine will help you add strength and mass by allowing your muscle cells to work just somewhat harder.
How Does Creatine Work?
In the event you were awake for high school biology, you probably heard about cellular energy. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), sugar, cellular respiration, and all of that fun stuff. Otherwise, I will provide you the short rundown.
You cells have a tiny molecule called adenosine triphosphate. You cell generates energy by breaking up a phosphate bond in the mitochondria. The adenosine triphosphate subsequently becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP), and needs to get another phosphate atom to bond with so it can split it in the mitochondria. Creatine bond together with phosphate and becomes phosphocreatine, which is stored in cells. Phosphocreatine can rapidly turn ADP into much needed ATP. That ATP can then go break another bond for cellular energy.
Think about your cells as a steam engine train. The ATP represents a worker that has a shovel full of coal, while the ADP represents a worker with a vacant shovel. Creatine would signify a supply of coal in the exact same car as the flame. The ADP worker would have to walk a few feet instead of to the next car over to get the much needed coal, which represents phosphate. It is a natural function of life.
So Why Supplement More?
The concentrations of phosphocreatine in your cells isn’t even near the maximum. Your whole body can use about 5 grams of creatine. The concentration in your cells varies, but it’s much lower. That means your cells will have to rely on inefficient glycolysis for energy. When you supplement with additional nourishment, your phosphocreatine levels will remain higher for longer. This does not turn you into a superhuman and it won’t add 50 pounds to your bench. The additional phosphocreatine will give you a small, but noticeable boost in your workouts. You might have the ability to lift a few pounds more, or the exact same weight for a few extra reps. This might not seem like much, but overtime if you are doing an additional 1-3 reps, you will build muscle and gain strength faster. However, creatine WILL make you gain weight right away. Gaining 5 pounds isn’t unheard of. This isn’t hard muscle gain however, that is additional water weight the phosphocreatine adds to your muscle cells.
Why Do People Believe Creatine Is Bad?
Creatine CAN cause some minor difficulties should you not take it the ideal way. It can cause cramping, and minor stomach difficulties. Those are both because of dehydration. Should you supplement creatine, your muscle tissues are using more water, so you definitely need to increase your water intake. Increasing your water intake will also lead to benefits in other areas of your life also. Some people also say it’s bad for your kidneys. The only slight possibility of this is from extreme dehydration. But for that to really happen, you would have to be very dehydrated before beginning your supplementation. Additionally, there are a small handful of people that will tell you creatine is bad for your heart. This is because those people have not taken the time to investigate and learn that it’s NOT a steroid.
Most of these will work equally well, but they’re much more expensive. The very best and cheapest way to go is with normal creatine monohydrate. This is the most studied, most popular, and cheapest form. I prefer Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder. Optimum Nutrition is among the first brands in the supplement sport. They make very pure and safe supplements for a excellent deal.
Some folks will tell you about a “loading phase”, which is a way you take about 20 g for your first week, then reduce to 5 grams daily. I am not a huge believer in the loading phase, but you’re more than welcome to try it and let me know what you thought. I start with 5 g daily and keep it that way. It might take a day or two longer to take effect, but you’re saving money.