One of the most popular performance enhancement supplements on the market today is creatine. Believed to help athletes build muscle mass and achieve great strength and endurance, creatine is readily available and comes in a number of formulations including powder, liquid, energy bars, drink mixes and tablets.
It's available everywhere, but how do you know if it's right for you?
Effects and Benefits of Creatine
Creatine helps your body make adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP is what biologists consider the "energy currency" of life -- a high energy molecule that stores energy necessary for the body to do everything from muscle contractions to cell reactions. Some creatine is naturally produced, however, much of it comes from foods rich in protein such as nuts, meat, poultry and fish.
Users claim creatine improves strength, increases lean muscle mass and helps muscles recover from exercise more quickly. Some research suggests creatine helps the body recycle ATP during extreme stress situations, such as lifting heavy weights, giving the muscles an extra 15-second burst of strength before reaching muscle failure.
As early as the 1970s, researchers hypothesized supplementing natural creatine with a manufactured form could enhance athletic performance. By the 1990s, the supplement had become mainstream, touted as the latest holy grail of the performance enhancement world.Since that time, creatine has become a mainstay of workout regimens of professional and college athletes.
Best Methods for Consuming Creatine
Since there are many forms of creatine available and a lack of regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), following the manufacturer's instructions for dosage is always the safest bet. The typical dosage of creatine recommended is 5 g. The two usual methods for consuming creatine are rapid and slow loading:
Rapid Loading -- Take 20 g of creatine daily for five to seven days, then take 5 to 10 g a day thereafter.
Slow (Gradual) Loading -- Take 5 to 10 g a day.
You can mix your creatine powder with a non-acidic fruit juice or dextrose for maximum absorption. A number of experts recommend cycling creatine, or taking it for four weeks and then abstaining for four weeks.
What to Keep In Mind While Using Creatine
It's important to purchase creatine from a reliable manufacturer because it's not regulated by FDA in the same way as medications. Research is still inconclusive about what side effects may result from long-term consumption of supplemental creatine, especially in adolescents. Some short-term side effects have been noted, particularly in those who consume amounts beyond the recommended dosage, including weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, shortness of breath, diarrhea, headache, fever, rash, digestive issues and in rare instances, kidney failure.
Taking creatine with some medications, including acetaminophen, diuretics and diabetes medications, may cause dangerous drug interactions. Risk of side effects is increased when creatine is taken with stimulants such as ephedra or caffeine. Don't take creatine if you have kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes or for women, or if you are pregnant or nursing. Creatine isn't recommended for those under 18 years of age.
As with all health supplements, consult your doctor before starting on a creatine regimen, especially if you're being treated for any of the aforementioned medical conditions or taking other supplements or over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
If you believe creatine is that edge you're looking for to get the body you've always desired, explore the wide variety available from eVitamins! Don't let the holidays keep you from reaching your fitness goals.
Products you may like:
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder Why you may like this product? Creatine Powder by Optimum Nutrition offers a form of creatine that does not have any fillers or additives. The powder can be applied to any beverage without changing the taste.
MuscleTech Creatine 6000 ES Why you may like this product? Creatine 600 ES from MuscleTech is specially formulated to increase lean muscle mass, strength and power while encouraging recovery. One serving contains 5 g of pure creatine monohydrate that is quickly absorbed into the muscles.
5 Reasons to Add Creatine to Your Routine Now Creatine is a naturally occurring chemical that can provide a major boost to your health and fitness routine. Keep reading for five great reasons to make creatine a part of your supplement routine.
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