The Supplement Everyone Should Take
The ideal supplement regime will vary between individuals. In saying that, there is one product that almost everyone should add to their arsenal. Creatine is one the most effective and well researched supplements in existence. Not only does it improve athletic performance, it can also reduce mental fatigue and help you grow those muscles. Keen to learn more? Read below to find out why creatine is the best thing since sliced bread.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid that gets stored in your muscles and brain. Most people consume small amounts through foods like prawns but it also comes in supplement form. It looks like a soft white powder and is occasionally made into capsules. There are a plethora of reasons for supplementing this stuff. Creatine gets used by your muscle cells to create energy. The more you have kept in storage, the quicker your cells can make more energy. Although you do get creatine through food, it might not be enough to have any ergogenic effect. Taking a bit on the side can do wonders for your strength, muscle size and performance.
Creatine’s ability to improve athletic performance is notable to say the least. As stated above, your cells need creatine to produce energy. When doing high intensity exercise, the quicker your body can create energy the greater your output will be. Supplementation is therefore beneficial for athletes like sprinters, weightlifters or even just the average gym goer wanting to improve their fitness. The effects of creatine are especially potent in vegetarians as they don’t tend to get as much creatine through diet. However it doesn’t matter what diet you adhere to. Anyone can take creatine and notice a difference. If you want to lift heavier or recover from high intensity exercises faster, creatine is the supplement for you.
Not only will you be stronger, but you’ll have visibly more gains. Since creatine enables you to train harder, it makes sense that you will also put on muscle at a faster rate. Plenty of bodybuilders take it for this reason. One study tested whether women who took creatine would put on more muscle than those who took a placebo. They found that the ladies on creatine had a 60% greater increase in lean muscle mass compared to the ones that didn’t. This is quite a marked difference. The perks of having more lean body mass are countless. Those with a good amount of muscle also have stronger immune systems, lower risk of injury and faster metabolisms. Plus who doesn’t want strong looking, defined muscles? The only caveat is that you still have to train hard. Don’t expect to look shredded without doing any exercise. Creatine will help you put on muscle but only if you do the hard work too.
It turns out creatine is good for the gains and the brains. This is especially true for those in their older years. Studies show that elderly people who received creatine supplements improved significantly in memory tests. Even healthy adults with no brain issues can improve their short-term memory and intelligence by taking creatine. These findings have been replicated so many times it’s not funny. This study here found that creatine improves the reaction times of female Muay Thai athletes. It does this by speeding up the rate at which your brain cells make energy. It doesn’t matter if you are geriatric or an elite athlete in their prime. Creatine can make a measurable difference to your working memory, attention span and cognitive function.
One of the primary perks of creatine is that it’s generally safe for everyone. Side effects are quite rare and extremely minor in degree. The most common ill effect is stomach cramping. This usually only happens if you don’t drink enough water with your creatine. Make sure you are well hydrated. Excessive consumption could potentially result in diarrhoea or nausea but again, this is not common. Obviously don’t take more than you need and follow the instructions on the label. Since creatine is found in commonly eaten foods like steak and fish, side effects are very rare. It’s not a dodgy supplement containing a host of different ingredients and the majority of people tolerate it very well.
How Much Should I Take?
Obviously the best practice when taking supplements is to follow the directions on the label. Studies show an ideal dose of creatine is around five grams every day. Some advise going through a loading protocol but this isn’t necessary. As long as you are consistent with your daily five grams, you’re golden. Unlike other supplements, timing doesn’t matter. You could take creatine in the morning with your pre-workout or alternatively every night before bed. For those who struggle with digestion, spacing your intake throughout the day can help. Instead of all at once, take a couple of grams with each meal. This will reduce any risk of nausea or digestive discomfort. Luckily creatine is very affordable so taking a daily dose won’t eat away at your bank balance. If you stay consistent with your intake, you’ll experience the full benefit of this supplement.
Very few supplements are as impressive as creatine. With so many proven benefits and so little side effects, you’d be a fool not to give it a try. There is no need to buy any fancy type of product with added extras. A simple creatine monohydrate is all you need to see results. Just like brushing your teeth, make sure to be consistent and take it every day. Not only will you lift heavier and recover faster, you’ll also be a bit sharper between the ears. Who could say no to that?
Written by Lauren Carruthers