Creatine: Improving Your Strength and Performance
If you are interested in improving your performance in the gym, creatine is the number-one supplement alongside whey protein that most gym-goers take. More than 95% of creatine is found in our skeletal muscles as phosphocreatine. To maintain pre-existing stores, your body usually requires 1-3g of the natural supplement daily, depending on your muscle mass – about half of this is gained from our diets.
Creatines leading role in improving workout performance is that it increases the availability of ATP (energy) for muscle contraction. This allows for heightened muscle fibre hypertrophy and muscle gains. Studies indicate that it can increase muscle mass, strength and exercise performance. It has also been suggested that it may help enhance recovery following training and reduce the risk of injuries at a rapid rate. Moreover, it provides several other health benefits, such as protecting against neurological diseases being one of the worlds most tested supplements.
One of the reasons it has gained such popularity is down to its accessibility. It can be taken as a powder, mixed with drinks, in tablets and as bars all available without prescriptions and in a wide variety of online sites, health stores, supermarkets and even bargain stores.
Strength and Power
One of the main benefits of creatine and a reason for its popularity is its improvement in strength and power. This supplement is well-researched in this area, and the effects are quite significant for a supplement. When used alongside resistance training, it can increase lean mass and has also been found to improve anaerobic capacity.
Even Though creatine has been tested for physical performance, it has been found to have some cognitive benefits. This includes improvement on mental fatigue in scenarios demanding mental activity and sleep deprivation were all improved. Creatine can help improve working memory, however likely only for those with below-average creatine levels such as vegetarians and the elderly. We require more research in these areas and other cognitive measures before creatine can be said to be efficient.
Enhanced recovery and reduced muscle damage
Creatine has been proven to reduce muscle damage in a study into creatine supplementation over four weeks joined with training found that muscle strength increased, and muscle damage decreased significantly. Furthermore, it has been identified that creatine has well-formed performance-enhancing impacts and has various mechanisms that improve muscle recovery from rigorous exercise.
Injury prevention is a further benefit found with this supplement; a study found athletes who are taking creatine report a decrease in the rates of injuries in the comparison to those who do not augment it in their diet.
Enhanced tolerance to exercise in the heat
These supplements may also serve as an efficient strategy to lower the risk of heat-related illness for athletes to be trained in hot and humid conditions.
Increase anaerobic threshold
Additionally, there is evidence to indicate that a mixture of creatine and carbohydrate loading may help to increase exercise intensity during high-intensity training.
When to take creatine?
Taking Before a Workout
Creatine monohydrate is typically supplemented in phases during high loading as this can lead to an increased level of creatine in muscle stores. It is recommended that you take 20g/day for 5-7 days before reducing to a maintenance dosage.
Taking After a Workout
It has been recommended that a good time to have creatine is post-workout as it may contribute to enhancing muscle recovery. Creatine is also believed to assist in increasing glycogen stores in muscles from consuming carbohydrates compared to just taking carbohydrates by themselves.
It is good to note that there is no specific time creatine should be taken, and it is all down to personal preference. No studies have been conducted showing any findings to substantially support taking it before or after a workout. However, one study has found that taking the supplement closer to exercise allowed for more muscle and strength to be gained compared to the participants who took the supplement a long time before or after training. So, no matter when you select to take it, make sure it is immediately pre or post-workout.
Creatine is offered in two primary forms; these are powder and as tablets. There is little research accessible to back up one being more successful than the other. In the end, there are positives and negatives between both, and it is all down to personal choice.
In powder form they generally contain a more significant dose due to their larger volumes, meaning they will be able to carry more in a single serving. Creatine powders can be unflavoured as well as in a variety of different flavours such a fruit or duping popular drink brands. To make up a drink, add the suggested amount into a shaker and mix it with water and take just before you start your workout.
If you are not a fan of flavoured drinks or prefer to consume creatine quickly, a more suitable option is pills. One of the critical issues is that they tend to have a smaller dose of it per serving. However, it is an excellent alternative for people on the go.
The absorption of creatine can be enhanced by incorporating a carbohydrate-based meal as a result of insulin release. There has also been no research showing any negative side-effects in healthy adults from taking creatine.
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By Ella Orrock