Whether you're a fitness fanatic or you are just getting started on your fitness journey, one of the safest and most effective supplements that you can take for increasing your overall strength and muscle mass is something known as creatine.
Creatine is an amino acid that's naturally found in meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, poultry, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and even some grains like oats. It's also available in supplement form, which is what we are going to be focusing on today.
When taken as a supplement, you have two options available to you for how you would like to take it. On one hand, you can take creatine alongside a healthy diet for general maintenance, and on the other, you could opt to take it for your loading phase.
In this article, we are going to be showing you how to safely take creatine for both options, as well as share additional tips to make sure that you are using it correctly.
So let's get right into it!
What Is Creatine?
First off, let's talk about what creatine actually is. Creatine is a compound that's naturally found in our bodies, but it's not produced by us. Instead, our bodies produce it through the breakdown of protein from food sources.
The reason why we may need to consume more of it than we normally do is to help increase our overall muscle mass and bodily strength, and this is where taking creatine supplements comes in handy.
By consuming these supplements along with a balanced diet, you will be able to increase the amount of creatine that your body produces and, in turn, enjoy all the benefits that come along with it, such as increased body strength.
Now, there are different types of creatine available on the market. These include:
- Creatine monohydrate (CMC) – This is the most commonly used type of creatine due to its high absorption rate.
- Creatine ethyl ester (CEE) – This is another popular option since it has been shown to improve endurance performance.
- Creatine phosphate (CP) – This is the least preferred option among athletes, however, it does offer better results when compared to CEE.
- The main difference between all three of these forms of creatine is their absorption rates. For example, creatine monohydrate is absorbed at a much higher rate than either creatine ethyl ester or creatine phosphate.
However, it should be noted that while creatine monohydrate is the most common option, it isn't necessarily the best option for everyone.
In fact, many people who are trying to gain weight prefer creatine ethyl ester over creatine monohydrate.
Why Take Creatine?
There are several reasons why you might want to consider taking creatine. If you are looking to build up your muscles, then creatine is definitely something that you should look into.
There are numerous studies that show that taking creatine can help you achieve greater gains in muscle mass.
Another reason why you may want to consider taking creatine is if you're planning on participating in any endurance sports.
While creatine has been known to enhance athletic performance, it hasn't been proven to provide significant benefits during long-distance events such as marathons.
However, there are some studies that suggest that it could potentially benefit endurance athletes.
Another reason why you might want to take creatine is if you're looking to lose weight. As mentioned earlier, creatine monohydrate is often recommended for those who are looking to gain muscle mass and strength.
It also helps to promote fat loss, which makes it an excellent supplement choice for anyone who wants to shed a few pounds.
Finally, creatine is also great for improving mental focus. Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can improve cognitive function, especially in children.
Still, despite all of these benefits, understanding how to effectively use creatine is very important – which brings us to our next two sections:
How To Use Creatine For A Loading Phase
One of the most popular ways that creatine can be taken is for something known as a loading phase. Essentially, this is where a large quantity of creatine is taken in order to achieve the maximum amount of creatine possible prior to beginning a fitness/training program.
By doing so, this allows the user to enjoy maximum muscle mass and strength due to the optimum amount of creatine inside the body.
If you're interested in trying this particular method of using creatine out, then we strongly recommend that you increase your creatine intake (with your supplement of choice) to 20 kg for at least 5 days, although the usual length of time is typically around 7 days.
By the time you hit the gym, you should find that you have more power than you usually would, which allows you to increase your reps.
How To Use Creatine Alongside A Healthy, Balanced Diet
Taking creatine alongside a healthy and balanced diet is usually the choice that many people opt for, as the amount of creatine required each day is far less.
This option is excellent for anyone that is looking to gradually increase their overall strength and muscle mass alongside regular training.
While this method isn't as “immediate” as the method above, maintaining your creatine levels will help to maximize your workouts and ensure you're able to make your gains in a healthy way.
If you're interested in trying this method out, simply intake around 3g of creatine a day.
While creatine is one of the best supplements available today, it's important to understand the various ways that it can be used prior to deciding whether it's right for you.
If you're looking to gain size and strength, then creatine is definitely worth considering, but remember that it won't necessarily give you immediate results unless you're in a loading phase.
You can also check out this article to find out how long it takes for creatine to work so you can maximize its benefits.
Thanks for reading!