What Is Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine monohydrate is one of the most highly studied sports nutrition supplements out there and often comes with many misconceptions. It’s often thought to be a supplement meant exclusively for bodybuilders and strength athletes, however we’re here to bust that myth and explain why creatine can benefit all types of training. Of course, supplements aren’t a quick-fix for your fitness goals, and should never be used in the place of a healthy, balanced diet or instead of regular exercise — but if used correctly, they can support your progress.
Creatine is produced naturally in the body from the amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine, and is mainly stored in skeletal muscle, but can be found in the brain too — places where you have high energy demands. This is because creatine can rapidly produce energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
It occurs naturally in red meat and fish, which can make it difficult to get enough of it through diet alone as these sources can be expensive and time-consuming to prepare… they’re also not an option if you’re a vegetarian or vegan — which is why many people turn to supplements instead.
The Benefits Of Creatine Monohydrate
The main role of creatine in the body is to help recycle energy (in the form of ATP) and supply it to muscle tissue.
During training or playing sports, you exert your muscles a lot more and therefore they require more energy to function well. Creatine supplements can quickly provide this before or during your workout, and they’ll help to replenish your body’s natural creatine stores if taken post-workout.
Simply put, creatine monohydrate helps to increase energy production, which helps to improve athletic performance, allowing you to train harder. This makes it an ideal supplement for all fitness goals as it’ll increase your exercise workload — meaning you can complete more reps if you’re looking to gain muscle, or burn more calories if you’re focused on weight loss.
Creatine supplements may also be used by people with health conditions that leave them unable to naturally synthesise creatine themselves.
Creatine comes in both powder or tablet form, making it easy and inexpensive to work into your fitness routine — whatever your lifestyle choice.
How Much Creatine Monohydrate Do I Take?
The average person needs between 1-3 grams of creatine a day, and some of this your body will synthesise on its own. However, if you’re exercising or training you’ll be using more creatine to provide your muscles with energy, and subsequently you’ll need to take on more to replenish what you’ve used — which is where supplementation comes in.
Many athletes choose to go through a ‘loading’ phase in order to fully saturate their muscles, which is usually done by supplementing with around 20g of creatine over a five-day period and then maintaining with 5g of creatine on a daily basis after that.
Although this loading phase isn’t compulsory, studies have shown there is evidence to back up its benefit. A study that was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology1 split 30 male subjects into two groups so that half supplemented with 20g of creatine over a period of 6 days, and the other half was given 3g of creatine over a period of 28 days.
Researchers found that in loading phase group, the subjects all had a 20% increase in muscle creatine concentration after the 6 days. The same increase of 20% occurred in the second group, although it happened more gradually over the total 28-day period — showing that loading is the quickest way to increase the amount of creatine within the muscle.
Therefore, those looking for fast results should definitely consider loading with creatine when they begin taking it.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Creatine?
There have been no serious side effects reported from research on creatine supplementation, however it is important that you stay on top of your hydration throughout as creatine can cause water retention and leave you feeling dehydrated.
Some users find that this water retention leads to bloating, and others have reported gastrointestinal discomfort and mild muscle cramps. Like all supplements, if you’re ever in doubt you should always speak to your doctor.
Top Creatine Supplements To Consider
Creatine Monohydrate — our bestselling powder comes in 9 fruity flavours, perfect for mixing up as a refreshing drink on its own, or, if you prefer, there’s an unflavoured option which you can mix in with your protein shakes.
Creapure® Micronized Creatine — these tablets are great for those with a hectic training schedule as you won’t even need to mix up a shake to get your dose. And, Creapure® is widely known to be the purest and finest level of micronized creatine monohydrate available on the sports nutrition market.
THE Pre-Workout — this isn’t exclusively a creatine supplement, however our most explosive pre-workout blend does contain creatine along with caffeine, amino acids, vitamins and vitamins to really push your performance.
Hopefully, you're now confident about creatine and what it can do for you and your workout. For more supplementation tips, check out the articles below.