Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Creatine benefits

If you're working out with the intention to build muscle and become stronger, you may not be putting your body into the optimum conditions to facilitate such a change. There's only so far you can travel before your gains begin to level off and stop progressing when your diet and supplements aren't in check. This is part one of a three part series of the best supplements to fuel your body towards a new level of fitness, and the best part is, they're proven to work.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is well-known in the bodybuilding world, and has a respected and proven track record. The body uses creatine to fuel muscle cells by acting as a source of phosphate. Essentially, the more creatine available, the more energy available to your muscles to help them produce the strongest contractions and enable you to lift more weight. On top of this, creatine may even act to boost muscle growth by inhibiting myostatin, and can volumise the muscles to make them look larger.

Creatine provides energy

Your muscles need energy to contract, and creatine is naturally present in your body for this purpose. Supplementation has been shown to not only be safe, but to support the natural processes that fuel your muscles. This means that you can lift more weight, pump out more reps, and reach goals sooner because you're exposing your muscles to a greater stimulus than you otherwise could. Supplementation may even help to speed up muscle recovery after exercise

Creatine inhibits myostatin

Schwarzenegger's dog?
If you've seen the animals that carry a genetic mutation where they do not produce myostatin, you'll know just how big a deal myostatin inhibition really is. Myostatin acts as your body's way of suppressing muscle growth. Resistance training causes myostatin levels to drop and muscle to grow, but it will always be there preventing you from easily gaining muscle from barely any work. The addition of creatine to resistance training, however, causes significant reductions of myostatin, thus enabling you to gain muscle quicker. No other supplement is able to effect myostatin like this, and until scientists are able to produce a real myostatin inhibitor that can block it to any decent extent, creatine remains as the only proven method to reduce myostatin.

Creatine has a volumising effect

When you consume creatine, each molecule of creatine absorbs water. This creatine is in turn absorbed into the muscle cells, and the added volume it produces can make muscles look bigger and more aesthetic. Whilst this is purely a cosmetic effect and the volumisation will cease should you stop taking creatine, bodybuilding is largely about aesthetics, so any boost to appearance is welcomed when creatine has other actual strength benefits too.

How to take creatine

Creatine will produce the best results when consumed in large doses of between 5 - 20 grams for a few days to load up the body's creatine reserves. After that, a lower maintenance dose of 5 grams can be taken on a daily basis to maintain the effects until you're finished using it. Whilst it is unlikely that creatine loses effect when consumed for long periods of time, you may see best results using it for a couple of weeks with a period of rest inbetween a creatine cycle.

Creatine is safe for most people to consume, but if you have kidney or liver disease, or another form of chronic illness, you should consult your doctor before use, as excretion of creatine may cause problems when the kidneys aren't functioning properly. Consultation with a doctor or dietician is a good idea before starting any supplement as they will be able to tell you if your diet is well-balanced so that any gains aren't hindered by the food you eat.

Coming up next

This post is the first of a three part series. Coming up next is the second of our top 3 supplements to support lean muscle gains and power up your workouts.

Read part two - Glutamine

Read part three - Whey protein

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