Should You Take Creatine Supplements?

This is a guest page by Jeff Monroe

When I started my path to getting the body I wanted I didn’t have very many questions. I knew I needed to lose weight, and that’s all I focused on. As I had success with losing weight I also found frustration in that I didn’t feel much better. I wanted to be better, faster, stronger - kind of like Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man for those old enough to remember the TV show.

That’s when I started asking questions. How can I get stronger? How can I gain muscle but still lose weight? How can I recover faster so that I can exercise more? Many of the answers arrived at supplements and how to incorporate supplements into a workout and lifestyle routine. So perhaps you have some of these same questions.

Today I will focus on Creatine, perhaps the best known muscle building supplement.

What is Creatine

Creatine is a natural constituent of meat, mainly found in red meat. Creatine is manufactured naturally in the body from the amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine. Creatine is used for the resynthesis of ATP. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the “power” that drives muscular energetics. When a muscle is required to contract, the bonds in the ATP molecule are split, yielding ADP (adenosine-diphosphate). The energy released by breaking this bond powers the contraction of the muscle.

Creatine is the most popular and commonly used sports supplement available today. Creatine is available in many forms inluding Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Ethyl Ester, Creatine Gluconate, Kre-Alkalyn, Tricreatine Orotate and Creatine Nitrate. Creatine powder is the most popular allowing users the ability to add to their protein shake.

Benefits of Creatine Supplements

There are three primary benefits to taking creatine:

  1. Muscle recovery - Creatine rebuilds ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the chemical in your body that powers muscles. When you are lifting, ATP helps your muscles contract. With each contraction, the amount of ATP in your system decreases until you hit the point where you can no longer lift. By replenishing your muscles with creatine supplements you can speed your normal recovery time.
  2. Muscle growth - Creatine increases your ability to store glycogen. Your muscles use glycogen to fuel the anabolic process. In other words, you need adequate glycogen to help your muscles recover after an intense workout. By doing this, your muscles grow bigger and faster.
  3. Improved Cardio - While the studies are not conclusive in this area, most creatine users will tell you that creatine increases cardiovascular activity. When you take creatine supplements, you will most likely notice the effects of the drug in your anabolic workout, but it can positively effect your cardiovascular exercise as well. Creatine helps increase the amount of aerobic activity you can do before getting winded, so you will be able to exercise longer and more intensely.

Are Creatine Supplements Safe?

Just about anything can be unsafe if not used correctly. You can die from drinking too much water. The majority of studies indicate that creatine supplements when used for prolonged periods of time using large doses are safe. One study concluded that supplementation from nine weeks up to five years did not adversely affect renal function. Yet another study examined muscle damage, hepatic (liver) and renal (kidney) function, and found no adverse effects from creatine supplementation.

One thing to keep in mind however, is that any pre-existing condition could be cause for concern. The by-product of creatine use in the muscle is creatinine. Creatinine is typically harmless, and is flushed by the kidneys. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, however, any type of excess strain can cause problems.

If you are interested in creatine supplements a quick trip to the doctor would be a good idea - make sure you are healthy and able to not only take your supplements but partake in whatever exercise you are looking to do as well.

What Other Supplements Should I Consider?

There is a plethora of supplements available to aid you in whatever you are looking to do whether it is muscle building, fat loss or simple general conditioning. Some of the more popular supplements include a variety of protein powder options such as Whey Protein powder, Milk or casein protein powder, Egg Protein powder, Protein Blends and Whey Blends. You could even consider a simple protein bar as a supplement. Caffeine is one of the most popular fat loss supplements, as is more natural approach such as Green Tea.

I hope this article helped answer any question you may have had about sports supplements like Creatine.

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