Everything You Need to Know About Creatine

Are you sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts? What would it mean to you to be able to do a few more reps or to sprint for another second or two? When you can go the distance, you can get closer to peak performance. And creatine may be able to help.*

Creatine is one of the most common supplements in sports nutrition, and a lot of research is there to back up its claims for effectiveness and safety.* Is creatine right for you? How much should you take, when should you take it, and which forms are best for you? Here’s everything you need to know about creatine. Then check with your doctor and head over to Netrition for the creatine supplement that matches your needs.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is an amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Most of the creatine in your body is stored in muscles. It’s in the form of phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine is used during the energy-producing processes that happen when your muscles are being used, such as during weight lifting or other exercise. 

Taking creatine may* help increase storage of phosphocreatine in your muscles. That’s the main reasoning behind why creatine may help boost performance. It enables your muscles to continue producing more energy for longer.*

Where Creatine Comes from: Food and Your Body

So, where does creatine come from? There’s some in foods that come from animal sources. That is, beef, pork, chicken, and fish have creatine. So do milk and cheese.

Your body also produces creatine through processes in the liver and kidneys. To do this properly, you need to be well nourished with complete proteins. Complete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids. To produce creatine, you need arginine, glycine, and methionine. 

People on plant-based or vegan diets may be low in creatine. Soy is a complete protein, but many other plant-based sources don’t have all of the amino acids. Without all of them, your body cannot produce adequate creatine. 

Older adults could also be low in creatine. If they are, quality of life or brain function could decrease. Creatine can also help support muscle mass,* which tends to reduce while aging.

Benefits of Creatine

Creatine has been studied a lot. People have taken creatine not only for athletic benefits, but also for health benefits. These are some possible benefits of creatine.* 

Increased muscle mass.* There are many ways that creatine can boost muscle mass. First, it can help you do more reps or work out for longer. More training leads to more results. Creatine may also help reduce the breakdown of protein after workouts. Muscles are made of protein.

Creatine can stimulate muscle growth by increasing certain natural anabolic hormones, such as IGF-1, after working out. It can also help keep cells hydrated.

Improved endurance.* When you’re working out at a high intensity, creatine can help improve endurance because it lets your body produce more ATP, which is the currency of energy in muscle cells. The effects could include more strength, power, and endurance.

Supports brain health.* While most of the creatine in your body is in muscle cells, some of it is in brain cells. Certain brain and neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy, have been linked to lower levels of creatine in the brain.

Supports normal blood sugar levels.* Muscles use glucose, a form of sugar, for fuel. They get glucose from the blood, but muscle cells require insulin to allow the glucose to come into them. Creatine increases the effect of insulin on muscle cells by stimulating the effectiveness of GLUT-4, a transporter that allows insulin to work.

The effect of increasing insulin’s action is to lower blood sugar. That’s good if you’re at risk for diabetes, since diabetes is a condition with higher than normal levels of blood glucose.

Supports energy levels.* Creatine may have the benefit of making you feel better. That’s pretty subjective, but studies have been done in athletes and sleep deprived patients. Groups taking creatine reported feeling less tired than control groups who didn’t take creatine.

Amounts of Creatine in Supplements

If you’re looking to boost your creatine intake, supplements are more effective than foods. The amount of creatine in supplements is often around 5 mg per serving. To get 5 mg from a food source, such as meat, you’d need to eat close to 2 lb. of meat! That means that supplements are much more realistic for getting substantial amounts of creatine to boost your stores.

Creatine Supplements at Netrition

Netrition has a range of creatine supplements, including flavored, unflavored, powders, capsules, and chews. Here are some of our creatine supplements. 

Pure Creatine Monohydrate Powder

You can use creatine monohydrate powder by mixing it into water or a favorite beverage when you’re ready to take it, such as before or after a workout or as part of your daily routine at another time. 

Each of our brands has a serving size of 5 grams, or 1 scoop. They contain pure creatine monohydrate. The form is microionized, which is easier to assimilate into cells. 

Optimum Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate Powder has 240 servings per tub. Met-Rx Creatine Monohydrate Powder comes in a tub with 40 servings. AllMax Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate Powder comes in a tub with 200 servings.

Creatine Monohydrate Chews

Universal Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate Chews can help turn taking creatine into a treat. These grape-flavored chews have 5 grams of creatine monohydrate per chew. They taste great. Each one has 4 grams of carbohydrates. You might even want to think of the sugar as a post-workout boost, since carbs support the liver in replacing lost glycogen.

Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews come in a bag with 144 chews.

Creatine Monohydrate Capsules

If you want the simplest way to take creatine, capsules may be your best option. NOW Kre-Alkalyn Creatine comes in capsules with 1.5 mg of creatine in each one. The creatine in this supplement is buffered, which means it’s more stable through the gastrointestinal tract. Since there is less breakdown, the result is that more intact creatine gets to your muscles, and there’s less chance of a side effect such as bloating.

These capsules are a great choice if you have allergies or intolerances to any foods. They are free from gluten, and common allergens such as soy, wheat, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, and nuts. Each bottle has 240 capsules.

For a higher dose, you can opt for NOW Creatine Monohydrate Capsules. Each one has 4.5 grams of creatine. The bottle comes with 120 capsules.

Creatine Monohydrate Powder with Proprietary Blends

BSN Cell Mass 2.0 has creatine monohydrate in a powder that you can mix with water or another beverage. The formulation isn’t straight creatine monohydrate, though. It also has glutamine, glutamic acid, taurine and additional amino acids. Each serving contains 4 grams of protein. The goal is to maximize muscle gains from your workouts. 

Creatine Pre-Workout Blend

Do you ever get a little nervous before a workout because you know it’ll be challenging? How would you feel going into your workout with a bit of help? BSN NO-XPLODE Pre-Workout Igniter Endura Shot is made just for you! It has 5 grams of creatine, but so much more!

  • Myogenic Matrix proprietary blend with beta-alanine and other ingredients to boost endurance.
  • Endura Shot with vitamin D, beta-alanine, and more.
  • Thermic Energy with tyrosine and caffeine.
  • Shock Composite with pantothenic acid and other B vitamins.

When you work out longer, you can get in better shape for peak performance.

How to Take Creatine Monohydrate

Now, how do you take creatine monohydrate? Here are the basics. You can take it at any time of the day. Many people choose to take it before a workout, after a workout, or at one or more pre scheduled times during the day.

There’s also the question of dosage. You might start with a loading phase, which includes 3 to 4 5-gram servings of creatine each day for about a week. The purpose is to maximize your muscle stores of creatine. Then, you can take about 5 grams a day to maintain your body stores of creatine. You can do this indefinitely, as long as your healthcare provider agrees.

Creatine and Dehydration: Possibly a Myth

There’s been talk that creatine can lead to dehydration. The theory comes from the fact that creatine draws water out of cells as creatine enters. That’s led people to worry about the possibility of becoming less hydrated. Dehydration while exercising intensely is dangerous. Even mild dehydration can lead to muscle cramping and soreness, which won’t help you hit your performance goals!

But, there’s good news on that front. There’s evidence that creatine doesn’t cause dehydration. It may even help your body maintain a good fluid balance.

To be on the safe side, you can still drink plenty of water. The best approach is to stay hydrated all day. That lets you start out your workout fully hydrated. Also, when you drink fluids soon after finishing your workout, you can have faster recovery.

Peace of Mind with Safety and Side Effects of Creatine Supplements

Unlike with many supplements, there’s been a lot of research on the effects and safety of creatine supplements. So far, it seems that there’s not much to worry about if you’re a healthy individual and your healthcare provider agrees that it’s fine to take creatine. In fact, side effects are rare.

It’s possible that creatine can interact with caffeine. Specifically, having a lot of caffeine may make creatine less effective. The amount of caffeine that is okay to have while you’re taking creatine is individual, but a general recommendation is to stay under 300 mg of caffeine per day while taking creatine supplements. That amount is about the amount of caffeine in 3 cups of coffee. If you’re used to drinking more, you can try switching to decaf or half-caff versions of coffee.

Who Shouldn’t Take Creatine Supplements

There aren’t many known interactions with medications and creatine, though it’s still best to ask your doctor before taking creatine or any dietary supplement. Creatine is rumored to be hard on the kidneys and liver. Though it’s not clear that this is true, you should definitely ask your doctor before trying supplements. 

It’s also important to be aware that safety hasn’t been proven for pregnant women. It’s best to ask your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplements if you are pregnant or there’s a chance that you may become pregnant. 

Ways to Support Your Creatine Supplementation and Workouts

If you’re working out hard and you’re using creatine, you’re pretty committed. That means you probably want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to support performance and recovery. These are some additional tips for maximizing performance.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You may need extra before and after a workout, and about 8 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during an intense workout if you’re sweating.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. Whole grains, legumes, nuts, and low-fat dairy products also have nutrients that can support overall health,
  • Include regular rest days to reduce risk of injury and burnout. You can still take creatine on rest days.

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular and best-studied athletic supplements, and it may have other benefits, too.* If you’re thinking about taking it, talk to your doctor about which form may be best for you, and whether additional supplements can support your goals as well. Netrition has a wide range of creatine and other sports nutrition supplements to help you get to the top of your game, so be sure to stop by and browse the aisles!

*The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. Netrition products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone with a medical condition should seek the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. Individual results may vary.

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