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All you need to know about Creatine

While Creatine is a popular supplement among body builders, not all are aware about its working and benefits. Read on to find out who should be taking this supplement and why.

Creatine has now become a supplement staple for those who are looking to build strength and lean muscle mass. It is basically a natural source of energy for muscle contraction. Chemically it is a nitrogenous organic acid derived from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. Produced in liver, kidney and pancreas, creatine is stored in skeletal muscle and is consumed during the physical activity to supply energy to the muscles. Touted as an ‘energy boosting’ supplement, creatine enhances the energy levels of muscle at a faster pace and hence helps improve body’s athletic performance. This is the reason most gym goers, who lift heavy weights for shorter rep counts, prefer taking a creatine supplement before workout (however, there is still a debate over the best time to take creatine).

How does it work?

Once the liver and kidney produce creatine, it is transported to brain and skeletal muscles via blood. Normally, the concentration of ATP in skeletal muscle is 2-5 mM, which is only enough for a muscle contraction of few seconds. When the energy demands of the body increases, phosphagen system uses phosphocreatine (PCr) and enzyme Creatine Kinase (CK) to quickly make ATP from ADP, increasing your energy to help you do more strenuous activities. Consumption of creatine helps increase the concentration of PCr in the muscles, potentially increasing the muscle’s ability to produce ATP from ADP to meet increased energy demand.

Why you need creatine supplement when it is produced naturally?

While it is true that creatine is produced naturally in our body, most people are only able to ingest about one gram of it per day from food sources. For muscle building you ideally require at least 20 gram of certain every day. This is only possible if you take it in the form of supplement. Ideally you should be taking 5g of creatine monohydrate, 4 times daily for 2 to 5 days.

Benefits of taking creatine supplement

  • Improves athletic performance and enhances level of stamina, metabolism and energy.
  • It helps enhances the capacity of the body to perform high intensity workout which in turn helps in the smooth pumping of blood to heart.
  • Bodybuilders and athletes can use creatine to inflate muscle cells, producing a heavy muscled appearance by acting as a stimulus for protein synthesis.
  • It also enhances the nervous system by acting an agent that increases the survival of nerve cells to environmental abuses.
  • Diabetics can also benefit from creatine as it helps in improving glucose tolerance by increasing the volume of glucose transporter type 4.
  • With creatine supplement you can reduce age related muscle loss that happens due to a natural decline in the production of muscle building hormones such as testosterone and IGF-1.

Is creatine safe?

Extensive research has shown that creatine supplementation of 5 to 20 grams per day is safe and produces no adverse side-effects in long run. There have been reports of weight gain, gastrointestinal discomfort, dehydration and muscle injury after creatine supplementation, but there is no clinical evidence to support these statements. Adult men and women can take creatine supplement to improve their physiological response to resistance exercise. However, it is not suitable during pregnancy and breast feeding. If you are suffering from kidney disease or diabetes, you must consult your doctor before taking creatine supplement. While taking the supplement, it is make sure that you drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.