If you have just joined a gym and are concentrating on your muscles and fitness, you must have heard about a supplement called creatine. Your trainer might have told you to have it before your fitness workout, but should you really put something in your body without knowing everything about it? MH, along with Pushpendra Barman, Nutritionist, Athlete and Head Coach at Crossfit 3607, tells you all that is there to know about the wonder supplement creatine.
1. What Exactly It is
Barman says, “Creatine is one of those molecules which are naturally produced in the body. It stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine. These phosphocreatine provide energy to every cell for their various function during the time of stress. Therefore the intake of creatine supplement increases the strength. This is how creatine supplement can benefit brain, bones, liver and muscles. Creatine is also found in meat, eggs and fish. It is often used by athletes to increase both power output and lean mass.”
2. How It Benefits Us
If you have been wondering how to build muscle fast? The answer is creatine. It tops the diet charts of many athletes as it has many uses. Burman counts some of them for us, “It increases the muscle power output along with the anaerobic power. It gradually increases hydration levels in the body and is also known to increase cognitive powers as one grows old. It helps to gain weight and muscle size but also gives water weight. It gives a boost to the testosterone levels in the body. Moreover, it helps in quick recovery of the muscles after an intense workout.”
3. What Are The Side Effects?
Burman firmly says that there are no side effects of the supplement if consumed in the right amount, “It has been proved clinically that there is no harm that creatine does to the body if the dosage taken is acute. The results of various clinical researches done with varying doses concluded that the side effects were only limited to gastrointestinal distress from high dose consumption in one go and cramping because of dehydration.”
However, Burman adds, “There are doubts about the kidney damage done by creatine. Creatine converts into creatinine, which under normal circumstances is eliminated by the kidneys. When the kidneys are damaged, they cannot clear the blood as effectively and some of the creatinine gets backlogged in the blood. Creatinine is easily detectable in the blood and is used as a biomarker for the doctors to check the level of kidney damage. If creatine is taken in high dose, it can be detected in the blood creating a false positive for kidney damage.”
4. How Much Should You Consume?
Creatine is available in the market in many forms but creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and the most effective. Another readily available one is the micronised creatine monohydrate which is a more practical option as it easily dissolves in water.
Where thedosage is concerned, Burman recommends a loading protocol, he says, “To start loading take 0.3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day for 5–7 days, then follow with at least 0.03 g/kg/day either for three weeks (if cycling) or indefinitely (without additional loading phases).” He gives the example of a person who weighs 82 kg. This person should consume 25g/day of creatine during the loading phase and 2.5 g/day afterwards.”
Burman concludes with a warning, “People may think that consuming a higher quantity of creatine may result in more benefits but instead it might lead to stomach cramping, if the supplement is not taken with sufficient water. It can also cause diarrhea and nausea if too much is consumed at once. It’s better to spread out the dose over the day and consume with meals.”