What is it? How can it help me?
Creatine is a non-essential nutrient derived from the amino acids L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. About 95% of the creatine in your body is found in skeletal muscle, where it’s stored as phosphocreatine.
Creatine provides your muscle with the high-energy molecule needed to produce energy. Increasing your body’s creatine stores increases phosphocreatine re-synthesis and subsequent quick-energy production, allowing you to train harder (especially fast, explosive exercise).
In fact, creatine has been found to increase strength and maximal power by up to 15%, and can also improve lean body mass. High levels of creatine can enhance your muscle’s ability to renew energy for up to 20-second energy bursts.
When do I use it?
Creatine can be used anytime during the day or before exercise as part of a pre-workout drink. Creatine should be consumed on a daily basis at recommended levels.
How much do I need?
Increasing your body’s stores of creatine can be accomplished in one of two ways. First, you may chose to “load” creatine at a dosage of 20 grams per day for 7 days, followed by a maintenance dose of 5 grams per day for 28 days. This will result in a more rapid accumulation of creatine in muscles and can be important if there is a competition that will occur within just a few days of beginning supplementation.
Alternatively, if you have more time available, you can achieve similar results simply by taking 5 g of creatine daily for 28 days. Carbohydrate (sugar) is typically consumed with creatine to enhance and normalize skeletal-muscle uptake. Intestinal absorption of creatine is nearly 100%.
More helpful information
Creatine is naturally found in animal products, especially meat. However, one pound of raw meat only contains 1-2 grams of creatine. Your body synthesizes 1-2 grams of creatine a day, primarily in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
Individuals with lower initial levels of creatine in muscle, such as vegetarians, are more likely to respond to supplemental creatine. Additionally, of the nearly 500 research studies conducted on creatine, more than 70% (300 studies) have found a beneficial effect with creatine. These studies have used a broad range of individuals, including young male athletes and non-athletic females, and older adults.