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With creatine products raking in an estimated $400 million every year and 28 percent of high school and college athletes use creatine, it’s not uncommon for people to wonder why creatine is so popular.
Completely legal and without significant side effects, creatine has been one of the most popular muscle building supplements out there, but some people still wonder, why take creatine?
Whether you’re a bodybuilder or a football player looking to bulk up and get some added strength, creatine can help you. Here’s a look at the top three reasons for why to take creatine.
Like most dietary supplements for athletes and bodybuilders, creatine is more about creating greater energy reserves than anything else. Described by Iron Man Magazine as “having a second battery in your car,” creatine is able to assist your body in producing greater stores of ATP—or adenosine triphosphate.
To describe this effect in the simplest way, think of the difference between aerobic and anaerobic activity. When you engage in aerobic activity, you're using 60 percent of the energy in your ATP stores. Your body is fine functioning in this way, because it receives all of the ATP it needs from oxygen.
However, once you step it up and use between 60 and 80 percent of your energy stores, you're engaging in anaerobic activity. At this point, your body begins to rely on your lactate system to produce additional ATP. This is where the lactic acid that causes muscle soreness comes from. This is inconvenient, but up to this point, your body continues to produce enough ATP to keep up with demand.
Where creatine will help, then, is in high-intensity exercises that require a short burst of massive energy. At this point, your body is operating at 100 percent and can no longer produce enough ATP to support your exercise.
Instead, your body relies on naturally-produced stores of phosphocreatine—a substance created by taking an extra phosphate molecule and bonding it to two molecules of adenosine diphosphate, or ADP. At this point, ADP becomes ATP, and more energy is created.
However, the body's supply of phosphocreatine is small. Creatine, then, is able to increase the supply of phosphocreatine and therefore help create more ATP while the body is under severe stress.
This energy-giving effect of creatine has even been documented. According to a 2010 study printed in the journal Nutrition, supplementing with creatine resulted in greater energy levels and less fatigue as compared to subjects who took a placebo.
This means you will have more energy to draw from, allowing you greater endurance and better support as you build and strengthen your muscles.
Speaking of muscle growth, the second benefit of creatine that will be discussed here is its ability to build and expand muscles.
This works because creatine attracts large amounts of water and passes into the cell, expanding muscles and stimulating muscle fibers. This not only heightens the appearance of your muscles, but also triggers to process of protein synthesis—wherein muscles are built.
When you first begin to supplement with creatine, this extra water will lead to some moderate weight gain. This water weight will remain unless you hit the gym and turn some of that extra volume into actual muscle. If you do so, you'll likely see between two and four pounds of new muscle within the first week. Continue working out, and it will be mean long-term strength and sustainability.
“If you can lift one or two more reps or five more pounds, your muscles will get bigger and stronger,” said Dr. Chad Kersick of the University of Oklahoma during an interview with Men's Health. Kersick works as an assistant professor in the exercise physiology department.
Remember, though, that these effects will likely only take place if you do engage in high-intensity activity like resistance training, or if you play a sport like football or baseball. Creatine will not be much use to you if you don't have a regular workout schedule or if you prefer to exercise and get fit with long-distance running or swimming.
Finally, creatine can help give you physical support as the demands of high-intensity exercise take their toll on your body.
Although this benefit remained disputed by science for several years, recent evidence is emerging that creatine actually helps quicken muscle recovery time. This is something that users of creatine have always reported, but which clinical studies have not always been able to back up.
Now two new studies show that not only were these bodybuilders correct, there may be a good reason these benefits failed to show up in other tests.
The first study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, and involved 14 untrained subjects. Once they were divided into two groups, they underwent two weeks of intense weight training. The first group received a creatine supplement and carbohydrate, while the second group received carbohydrate only.
At the end of the two week-period, the second group saw more muscle contractions, muscle damage, and soreness than did the first group. Those who took creatine, by contrast, saw 21 percent higher muscle strength and 10 percent higher isokinetic muscle strength.
The second study involved another set of two groups of subjects. The first took 20 grams of creatine, while the second group took a placebo. Over a 30-day period, they were monitored by levels of muscle damage.
Again, those who supplemented with creatine experienced far fewer problems than those who did not.
Another interesting finding was that when the groups were monitored after the first week, no difference was observed. Researchers believe this is why previous studies have failed to find a connection between creatine supplementation and faster recovery time—because this effect only kicks in after a period of more than seven days.
Now that you know just why you should take creatine, you likely want to know where you can get the best product for the best price.
However, this can be difficult with the barrage of creatine supplements that come in powders and pills, and feature several different types of creatine next to amino acids and other nutrients. In truth, nearly all forms of creatine are effective, but some serve your needs better than others.
Creatine monohydrate, for example, is the most common form of creatine and is the subject of most successful studies.
Kre-Alkalyn creatine, by contrast, is of a higher quality and can deliver the benefits of creatine monohydrate without the side effects.
Kre-Alkalyn The Best Creatine
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