Creatine, an extremely popular ergogenic aid and is another supplement found on the generally effective and safe list.
What is creatine and how does it work?
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound which is derived from the non-essential amino acids, arginine, glycine, and methionine. Some creatine is produced in our bodies and some is derived from our diet and comes mainly from animal products. For this reason vegetarians are less likely to have sufficient creatine stores.
In our muscles creatine is converted to creatine phosphate. Creatine phosphate donates a phosphate group to ADP, quickly replenishing it to ATP form. ATP is used for fast, short lasting bursts of energy, such as muscle training and sprints. This benefit is what makes creatine so attractive as an ergogenic aid.
Which athletes could benefit from a creatine supplement?
Creatine supplementation is not essential for all athletes. The requirement varies from person and also depends on the situation and sport. The most distinctive evidence for benefit is shown in high intensity exercise with short rest periods such as strength and resistance training as well as team and racket sports. Findings in endurance research have not been conclusive as yet.
It is important to realise that creatine may cause weight gain due to fluid retention, this may cause negative effects in aesthetic sports or in cases where extra weight could hinder performance.
How should supplements be used?
Although creatine is available on supplement shelves in many forms, creatine monohydrate is recognised to be the most effective form available.
Supplementation requires a loading and maintenance phase.
For fastest results loading should take place over 5-7 days with large doses of 20-30g per day. Uptake is increased if taken with a carbohydrate rich meal due to effects of insulin release.
A maintenance phase is recommended to keep stores of creatine loaded. This involves taking a much smaller dose of 2-5g per day. If supplementation is ceased after loading, levels will gradually decrease.
Some people cycle these phases with breaks between. It is yet to be determined whether this is more beneficial in the long run.
Side effects and dangers?
There have been various rumoured dangers of using creatine. However, at present there is no evidence of any negative effects associated with creatine supplementation in healthy humans. So why not give it a try…
Article supplied by @futurelifeza?