05 Mar The Wonderful World of Creatine
Creatine monohydrate (CM) is one of those supplements that gets talked up and about a lot. We’ve got a third of the population out there that swear by it, another third that don’t agree with it, and the other 33.3 or so percent completely unaware that it even exists.
But is it something that you should and could consider adding into your diet despite it being something that most people think is aimed at male bodybuilders chasing the pump?
Keep reading to fill your brain up with some information from the wonderful world of supplements.
WHAT IS CREATINE?
Creatine is this molecule that occurs naturally in all mammals. When you break it down, you’re left with three amino acids that are known as L-arginine, glycine, L-methionine (yes I know, weird names indeed).
This creatine is formed within our liver and kidneys and travels around our bodies via the insanely busy highway – the circulatory system.
When it’s not peak hour, our body is able to utilize creatine for our skeletal muscles and even our brain.
Although we manufacture this stuff in our bodies naturally, we can also ingest it from outside sources such as red meat, fish, milk and even cranberries.
And if none of those foods sounds appetizing to you, or you’re looking for more creatine for your body, you can always opt for the synthetic version to top your creatine levels up.
This is where CM comes into play.
So what the hell is CM then? Well, CM is the synthetic form of creatine. Meaning people create the stuff. I mean, didn’t your mother ever tell you that creatine monohydrate doesn’t grow on trees?? Jeez.
They’re able to create it by the simple reaction of a sodium salt known as sarcosine, with a highly reactive compound known as cyanamide. And by throwing these two ingredients into a perfect amount of water at the perfect temperature (around 50-100 ° C), voilà, a top 10 supplement is born.
So how can this, what’s essentially a salt, be beneficial to our intricate human bodies? Well when the body is in demand of a high amount of energy (like when you’re about to lift a heavy weight, or perform an intense exercise bout in a short amount of time), it digs into its storage department (or compartment – I couldn’t decide which one to run with) and finds creatine’s converted form: phosphocreatine.
This phosphocreatine is reserved for special moments when you need it (kinda like the axe behind glass), and is sent throughout the body to the skeletal muscle and brain, typically lasting between 2-7ish seconds, and regenerating in around 60 seconds [1, 2, 3].
Cut the comedy.
That’s all interesting Hayden, but why should CM be something that I should consider introducing into my daily diet?
Well, one amazing benefit of this supplement is that it can actually increase your work output levels [4, 5, 6, 7] and even increase the duration that you can use this awesome bit of energy (phosphocreatine, remember?) and/or delay the onset of muscular fatigue when the activity is of short duration [8, 9].
Pretty cool, right? This means that if you add CM in, you can actually improve your strength and power [10, 11, 12, 13]. And with more strength and power, more weight on the bar is possible. And with more weight on the bar, there are more muscles to be had. And with more muscles, there is more metabolism.
Another cool thing about this supplement is that it’s even been noted to provide a slight increase in testosterone levels  and possibly aid with the rehabilitation and recovery from injuries .
One of the big things when it comes to CM supplementation is that women think that its not for them. This definitely isn’t the case though. Favorable gains in strength, power, and muscle mass have been shown to happen in both sexes [16, 17] so it’s not something to shove in the ‘men only’ bin alongside fishing, beer and “nudie magazine day”.
Whilst there is a study showing that there can be absolutely no increase in body weight due to supplementation with CM , the majority of studies point to the fact that if you increase your creatine intake, it can result in weight gain because of the increase in water retention [19, 20]. So keep that in mind if you start freaking out when hoping on a set of scales after a few weeks of CM supplementation.
One last cool thing about this supplement I want to mention is that it’s even been shown to help you with the retention of your muscle mass and strength . So even as you age, and it’s a given that you’ll slowly stop having the ability to add and keep on muscle, it could possibly help preserve your jacked look all the way into your marble-less years.
Whilst it’s known that CM supplementation doesn’t affect every individual [22, 23], there are still a lot of conflicting and different opinions when it comes to how much you actually need to ingest for any noticeable effect.
As high as 20g per day has been used for an increase in power  with no weight gain or change in body composition. And as low as 1.25g per day has been shown to provide improvements in muscle strength without the possible dreaded weight gain .
Despite these two extremes however, the majority of the studies tend to sit around the 3-10g mark. With a common favour towards what is known as a “safe”  amount at a dose of 5g for maximum strength, power, endurance, recovery, muscle retention and even aid in helping people therapeutically that suffer from a major depressive disorder [27, 28, 29, 30, 31].
So by taking into account all of the above, if you aim for around a 3-8g mark of CM every day, you’ll definitely be acquiring enough creatine for all the positives listed above.
I know with the possibility of your body not responding to this form of supplementation, it still can’t hurt to try it out. Whether it be a placebo effect or not, I can’t ever imagine anyone ever complaining about having too much strength.
Any questions, post ‘em below.