Creatine - The Good, The Bad and The Great

In this article, we're delving into the powerhouse supplement that has become a cornerstone for many in the fitness world – Creatine. Consider this as your go-to guide for all things Creatine: unpacking the science, highlighting the benefits, and providing insights into how this supplement can elevate your performance and reshape your fitness journey.

As we navigate the vast landscape of supplements, Creatine stands out as a tried-and-true ally for those looking to enhance strength, power, and overall athletic performance. 


What is Creatine?

Creatine is a natural substance (nitrogenous organic acid) that is produced from amino acids in the human body. While working out or weight training, Creatine is one of the first sources to be used as fuel for energy, therefore being burnt off quicker. When your energy is being burnt off, your muscles start to fatigue and your performance lessens after each rep.

Therefore your body needs to replenish that energy faster in order to receive optimal results. With the help of a Creatine supplement, more energy is produced for the body. That is why Creatine Monohydrate has become one of the most popular and highly effective supplements used for body building and for athletic performance.


How does a Creatine supplement work?

In very simple (and barely) scientific explanation: ATP (Adrenaline Triphosphate) is a chemical source of energy in your body mainly found in your brain and muscle cells, which is turned into ADP (Adenosine Di-Phosphate) when energy is used. ADP is not very useful to your body, so with the help of a Creatine supplement, the Creatine donates a phosphate group to the ADP and turns it back into ATP for more energy. With this energy, you are able to train for longer periods of time and can improve the workout intensity as time to fatigue is lessened.

What are the benefits of Creatine?

  • It helps support protein synthesis and increases the anaerobic abilities of your body, which helps your body efficiently build your muscles and increase your fat-free body mass
  • It speeds up the recovery rate after training by reducing inflammation and muscle cells damage
  • It improves your physical power and mechanical edge as your CP-ATP system is increased so your body has more energy, therefore making it beneficial for high intensity workouts
  • Increases your personal motivation as you will be able to see results quicker due to the muscle mass (the muscle pump due to the water may give you a sense of significant muscle gains)


Should I Creatine load?

Creatine loading is for those individuals who want to see the results quicker. It is not necessary but it is easier and quicker. In order to get the benefits of Creatine, the cells in your muscles need to be saturated. When taking a Creatine supplement at the normal dosage of 5 grams a day, it can take up to 30 days for your muscles to be saturated. Creatine loading means taking a larger dose of up to 15 – 25 grams a day for up to 5 days to reach saturation, and then taking a maintenance dose of 3 – 5 grams thereafter.

As I said, it isn’t necessary. But it can be used if you want to get results quicker. This is also important to understand, as it will explain why it isn’t necessary to consume Creatine before a workout. It takes time for the Creatine to saturate your cells, and that is what will be used when you work out. The Creatine you consume right before you exercise wouldn’t be used as a source of energy as it hasn’t had time to saturate. That is why it is recommended to consume post workout when absorption levels are at their highest.


Will Creatine make me bloat?

One of the side effects to Creatine is water retention. It doesn’t affect everyone who takes a Creatine supplement, but it can affect some. The water retention is caused as water is bound to Creatine, and Creatine draws water into the muscles to saturate the cells. If large amounts of water isn’t absorbed, then bloating will occur.

Creatine saturates (hydrates) your muscle cells which is beneficial because:

  • It increases protein synthesis in the cells which assists in efficiently building your muscles
  • It increases the ions in the muscle cell (mainly nitrogenous) which allows your muscles to hold more water which gives them a pump (and makes them look bigger)

Before panicking and going off Creatine at the first sign of bloating, there may be a few reasons as to why you are bloating. Try stay on it for a decent length of time, as the bloating may reduce. Reasons for bloating include:

  • Your body might just need time to absorb the Creatine. It is recommended to take your Creatine supplement after your workout as your muscles are more receptive to absorbing Creatine from your blood.
  • You may be consuming the incorrect dosage. Avoid taking large amounts, especially if you aren’t exercising.
  • Creatine can also increase the risk of dehydration. Therefore, make sure you are drinking enough water, especially while training; otherwise the dehydration in itself may cause bloating and water retention.


Should I cycle Creatine?

Taking a break from Creatine may be beneficial (it isn’t necessary but has also been proven to help) as it forces your body back into its equilibrium state. In some cases, when a Creatine supplement is used for a long duration of time, the body starts to decrease the amount of Creatine it naturally produces, as a mechanism to bring the Creatine levels back to normal. Therefore, by cycling the Creatine, you will be able to keep your natural Creatine levels at a normal rate so you are able to fully benefit from the added Creatine in the supplement.

Overall, it has been found that Creatine supplementation is highly effective, and has been proven to greatly improve the strength and endurance performance of individuals while training. It increases muscle growth, recovery and overall fat-free body mass. It is recommended to take Creatine Monohydrate, as it’s one of the purest Creatines in the market and is absorbed quickly by the body. I hope this has cleared a few queries on Creatine, and that it is easy to understand!