What is Creatine and How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine is, besides whey protein, one of the most popular supplements out there. It is around the bodybuilding community for decades and is widely used by athletes of other sports. Creatine is also one of the most researched supplements, with dozens of studies showing its effects on the body, but also witnessing its safety. You will rarely find a supplement that is so widely spread and unanimously trusted as creatine.
Creatine is naturally found in our bodies - it is a molecule in our cells. However, when you take it as a supplement, the level of it in cells increases, which results in numerous benefits, both health and performance wise. Numerous studies have shown a direct link between creatine intake and performance spikes of 5-10%, on average. This might seem insignificant, but it is actually huge- that slight performance increase will result in heavier lifts, which will over time help you put on more muscle.
How Does It Work?
This is how it works - 95% of the creatine stores are in the skeletal muscles and are used in the production of energy, which is released by burning ATP. However, ATP is something that has to be synthesized all the time from ADP, considering it is the number one fuel of our organism. That is where creatine comes in to aid - the process of converting ADP to ATP is done with the help of creatine phosphate. Therefore, when you take creatine as a supplement, you boost this process, which results in more energy release, which then results in improved performance.
On the other hand, if your muscles get depleted of creatine, the muscle fatigue will trigger, and your performance will suffer. By taking creatine, you postpone the muscle fatigue, and you can exercise just a little bit more to push your boundaries, break your plateaus, reach your new PR… Taking creatine will increase your endurance, strength, and power. Proven, simple and effective.
However, creatine has one more (obvious benefit) - when you take it regularly, your muscles get fuller, and your “pump” will get bigger than it ever was. This happens because creatine retains water in your muscles, increasing their volume. The interesting thing is that when your muscles do get bigger this way, they are more likely to stay bigger - your body starts thinking that all of a sudden you have bigger muscles, thus it starts increasing the protein production, which will eventually help you build muscle. So, at first, your muscles look bigger, but later on, they actually do get bigger. However, due to this water retention, your weight will increase too, so don’t get scared when you step on the scale.
Furthermore, creatine postpones the buildup of lactic acid, which will make you feel less fatigued while you are working out. This will directly result in more reps, miles, or whatever yoru goal is.
The unusual thing about creatine is that it increases your energy levels, but without increasing your caloric intake like food, which makes it an excellent choice for working out when in a caloric deficit since it will give you that kick you need to go extra hard. However, creatine will not give you that buzz or high like caffeine; it will just help you last a bit longer while you are exercising.