“Should I be taking creatine?”..I get asked this a lot. And for MY members at Foundry or anyone else who lifts weights more than once a week, the answer will always be yes. It is one of those things you need to take daily and will see no negative side effects, but a variety of very visible and some not-so-visible improvements while taking it.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that is stored in our muscles and plays a crucial role in energy production during high-intensity activities. It is generally found naturally in meat and fish.
Unfortunately, in the United States there is no real regulation on the supplement industry. This has led to a lot of white labeling cheap products and ingredients from overseas and gives access to almost anyone looking to put out a supplement brand. This is the reason I went through a person I know and trust, who owns a manufacturing plant in Canada for our Foundry Performance Supplement line. Their rules and regulations regarding supplements is second to none and one we can trust.
What are the benefits of taking Creatine?
Unlike a lot of other supplements you hear of, creatine supplementation has been extensively studied and has been shown to enhance muscle strength, power, and overall athletic performance.
Additionally, creatine has potential benefits for cognitive function and brain health. Taking creatine supplements can be particularly beneficial for individuals engaged in intense physical activities like weightlifting or high-intensity interval training.
When it comes to longevity and working out, creatine can offer significant advantages. It helps increase muscle mass and strength, promoting better workout performance and allowing for greater gains over time. Moreover, creatine supplementation has been linked to improved anaerobic capacity and enhanced muscle recovery, which can aid in maintaining an active lifestyle and reducing the risk of injuries.
How is it stored and used?
During intense exercise, the body relies on adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as the primary energy source. However, ATP stores in muscles are limited and can be quickly depleted. This is where creatine comes into play. Creatine helps regenerate ATP, allowing for the rapid replenishment of ATP stores during intense exercise.
When creatine is consumed or supplemented, it is converted into phosphocreatine (PCr) in the muscles. PCr acts as a readily available source of phosphate, which can be used to quickly replenish ATP. Essentially, by donating a phosphate molecule, PCr helps restore ATP levels, providing the necessary energy for muscle contractions and high-intensity exercise.
By having increased levels of stored creatine in the muscles, individuals may experience benefits such as enhanced muscular strength, power, and increased capacity for high-intensity exercise performance. This is particularly noticeable during activities that require short bursts of energy, such as weightlifting, sprinting, and jumping.
Creatine for endurance athletes
While creatine is most commonly associated with improving performance in high-intensity and short-duration activities (what we do at Foundry), such as weightlifting or sprinting, there is emerging evidence that suggests it may also have some benefits for certain endurance activities.
Traditionally, endurance activities like long-distance running or cycling rely more on aerobic metabolism rather than the immediate energy provided by stored ATP and PCr (which are good for “quick bursts”).
However, here are a few ways in which creatine supplementation may still potentially benefit endurance athletes:
1. Enhanced muscle glycogen synthesis
- shown to facilitate glycogen synthesis, which is the storage form of glucose in muscles. By increasing muscle glycogen stores, athletes may experience improved endurance performance and delay the onset of fatigue during long-duration activities.
2. Enhanced oxygen utilization
- found to improve oxygen utilization in working muscles. This can potentially enhance endurance capacity by optimizing the efficiency of energy production in the mitochondria, leading to better sustained performance.
3. Increased training adaptations
- may aid in muscle adaptation and recovery from intense endurance training sessions. It can help promote muscle protein synthesis, reduce muscle damage, and facilitate the recovery process, ultimately allowing athletes to train more consistently and effectively.
While the evidence supporting the benefits of creatine for endurance activities is not as extensive as for high-intensity activities, some studies have shown positive effects. However, it’s important to note that individual responses to creatine can vary, and not all endurance athletes may experience the same benefits.
How Much Do I Need to Take?
- Loading Phase (first 5-7 days): 20-25g per day, in 4-5g servings
- Maintenance Phase: 3-5g per day, with a meal/carbohydrates to enhance absorption
Truthfully, there is no definitive NEED for a loading phase due to limited research but it is something you will want to take daily and takes a week or two for you to notice any changes. Once you do though, you will notice less fatigue while lifting weights and your body looks more lean and less skinny fat (am I allowed to say that?).
When you start taking creatine, you will need to drink more water as it tends to dehydrate you a bit. With that being said, water goes wherever salt goes. I have had clients in the past say ‘I’m drinking so much water and my lips are still chapped af”. So I suggest making sure your salt intake is on par. If you eat out a lot you’re probably okay but I personally make 90% of my own food and have to be a little more deliberate with adding salt so that I am able to absorb the things I need to.
When will I see results from creatine?
Obviously it will vary depending on individual responses, dosage, training regimen, and overall diet. Most people see results after 2-3 weeks of consistent supplementation.
During the loading phase it takes about 5-7 days to fully saturate the muscles with creatine. After that, changes in performance and muscle adaptations can become more evident.
Most people start noticing increased strength, improved power output, or enhanced recovery within first few weeks (particularly during high intensity and short duration activities). For endurance athletes (running, cycling, swimming?) it may take a little longer to observe its effects on endurance performance. It can take weeks or months to notice anything and it’s entirely dependent on how “hard” they are training.
Potential Side Effects
- GI Issues – if someone has stomach discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, or nausea – spreading the dosage throughout the day and/or increased hydration can make all the difference
- Water retention – in muscles = “weight gain”, but if you pair it with not eating like an ass hole….
What other questions do you have?