Creatine monohydrate is a popular nutritional supplement used primarily by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to enhance muscle strength and exercise performance.
Here's everything you should know about creatine monohydrate:
What is creatine monohydrate?
Creatine monohydrate is a naturally-occurring compound found in small amounts in foods like meat and fish. It is also synthesised by the body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas from amino acids. In supplement form, creatine monohydrate is a white, odourless powder.
How does creatine monohydrate work?
When ingested, creatine monohydrate is converted into phosphocreatine, which plays a key role in supplying energy to muscle cells during high-intensity exercise. By increasing the availability of phosphocreatine, creatine monohydrate can enhance the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy source for muscle contractions.
Can Creatine Help You Lose Weight?
Taking creatine leads to weight gain because it helps build and grow muscles, which causes weight gain. Moreover creatine causes water retention, increasing the measured weight, which is why it can’t be called a weight loss supplement. Most people who take creatine gain between 1.5 to 2 kgs of water retention in the first week.
Creatine is not a weight loss supplement or a fat burner but a performance-enhancing nutraceutical. Creatine can help increase muscle mass but has no effect on fat loss. However, creatine supports fat loss when athletes are in the “cutting phase” by preserving muscles by bringing more water into them, protecting muscle fibres from damage.
Fat loss results from calorie-deficit, having a balanced diet rich in protein, and exercise.
However, creatine may play a role in supporting your weight loss efforts.
It is not a magical pill that makes you lose weight, but it can indirectly assist you in your weight loss journey. When you take creatine and combine it with resistance training, it can help in a few ways.
First, creatine supplementation can help increase your muscle mass. When you engage in resistance training exercises like weightlifting or strength training, creatine helps your muscles recover and grow stronger. Having more muscle mass helps in weight gain because muscles burn more calories than fat tissue even at rest. So, by increasing your muscle mass, creatine can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout the day.
Another benefit of creatine is its ability to help preserve lean body mass. When you're trying to lose weight, you want to primarily lose fat while maintaining as much muscle as possible. Creatine, in combination with resistance training, can help prevent muscle loss during a calorie deficit.
A balanced diet, regular exercise, and a calorie deficit helps lose weight, not a creatine supplement. It's always a good idea to consult a healthcare or fitness professional before starting any new supplement or weight loss program to get personalised advice and guidance tailored to your specific needs.
Health Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate
Increased muscle strength and power: Creatine supplementation has consistently been shown to improve muscular strength and power, making it popular among athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts. It enhances the production of ATP, providing more energy to muscles for intense physical activities, such as weightlifting and sprinting.
Enhanced exercise performance: Creatine has been demonstrated to improve performance in high-intensity, short-duration activities, including sprinting, jumping, and resistance training. It may help delay fatigue, increase the number of repetitions or sets performed, and improve overall workout performance.
Increased muscle mass: Creatine supplementation can lead to an increase in muscle mass, especially when combined with resistance training. It promotes water retention within muscle cells, increasing muscle size and volume.
Improved anaerobic capacity: Creatine supplementation has been shown to enhance anaerobic capacity, allowing individuals to perform better in activities requiring quick bursts of energy without relying on oxygen, benefitting athletes practicing sports such as wrestling and swimming.
Neuroprotective effects: There is growing evidence suggesting that creatine may have neuroprotective properties and could help battle neurological conditions. It has been studied as a potential treatment for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Creatine's ability to enhance energy metabolism in the brain may contribute to these effects.
Improved cognitive function: Some studies suggest creatine supplementation may have cognitive benefits, particularly in tasks that require short-term memory and rapid processing. It may help enhance mental performance, especially in situations that involve sleep deprivation or stressful conditions.
How to Boost Creatine Naturally?
If you're looking to boost your creatine levels naturally, there are a few things you can do:
1. Include creatine-rich foods in your diet: Foods like red meat (beef and pork) and fish (salmon and tuna) contain small amounts of creatine. Adding these foods to your meals can slightly increase your natural creatine levels.
2. Make sure you're getting enough protein: Creatine is produced in your body from certain amino acids found in protein. To support creatine synthesis, include protein-rich foods such as chicken, eggs, dairy products, beans, and nuts in your diet.
3. Be mindful of how you cook meat: High temperatures during cooking can reduce the creatine content in meat. To preserve the creatine, try cooking methods like grilling, broiling, or steaming rather than deep-frying or boiling for a long time.
4. Stay hydrated: Being well-hydrated can help increase creatine uptake into your muscle cells. Drink enough water throughout the day to maintain good hydration, which can optimise the use of creatine in your body.
5. Take time for rest and recovery: Giving your body enough rest and recovery is important for the natural production and utilisation of creatine. Make sure you're getting adequate sleep each night and incorporating rest days into your exercise routine to support optimal creatine levels.
Remember that while these tips can help naturally boost your creatine levels only to some extent, the amounts obtained through food sources are relatively small compared to what you would get from supplementation.
Some Tips to help you benefit from Creatine
Certainly! Here are some tips to help you benefit from creatine supplementation:
Choose the right form and dosage: Creatine monohydrate is the most researched and commonly used form of creatine supplementation. It's typically available as a powder that can be easily mixed with water or other beverages. Start with a recommended dosage of 3-5 grams per day, and if desired, you can consider a loading phase of around 20 grams per day for the first 5-7 days to saturate your muscles with creatine.
Timing and consistency: While creatine can be taken at any time of the day, it's often recommended to take it around your workout sessions, which ensures that creatine is available when your muscles need it the most. Consistency is the key, so aim to take creatine daily to maintain consistent levels in your body.
Combine with carbohydrates: Consuming creatine with carbohydrates can enhance its uptake into muscle cells. Carbohydrates cause an insulin spike, which helps facilitate the transport of creatine into the muscles. Consider taking creatine with a carbohydrate-rich snack or post-workout meal.
Stay adequately hydrated: Creatine can cause water retention in muscle cells, so it's important to stay well-hydrated to support the body's fluid balance. Aim to drink enough water throughout the day to prevent dehydration and support optimal performance.
Combine with resistance training: Creatine supplementation is most effective when combined with resistance training. Engage in regular strength training exercises that target the muscles you want to develop. This combination can maximise the benefits of creatine in terms of strength, power, and muscle gains.
Monitor your progress: Keep track of your workouts, strength gains, and body composition changes to assess the impact of creatine supplementation. This can help you evaluate whether creatine is benefiting you and adjust your routine or dosage if needed.
Are Creatine Supplements safe to use?
Science backs creatine supplements’ safeness as an ergogenic aid. When it comes to the safety of creatine supplements, they are generally considered safe for most individuals when used as directed and within recommended dosages. Scientists have conducted numerous studies on creatine supplementation and found no significant adverse effects when used appropriately. However, there are a few important points to keep in mind:
Dosage: It's important to follow the recommended dosage of creatine supplementation, which is around 3-5 grams per day for most people. Some individuals may use higher doses (around 20 grams per day) during a loading phase to saturate their muscles with creatine. It's crucial not to exceed the recommended dosages, as extremely high doses may pose potential health risks.
Individual differences: While most individuals tolerate creatine well, it's worth noting that individual responses can vary. Some people may experience minor gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating or diarrhoea, especially when they first start taking creatine or use higher doses. To minimise these issues, it can be helpful to stay well-hydrated and divide the dosage into smaller increments throughout the day.
Pre-existing medical conditions: If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, such as kidney disease or liver disease, it's important to exercise caution or consult a healthcare professional before considering creatine supplementation. People with certain health conditions may need to avoid creatine or use it under medical supervision.
Hydration: Creatine increases muscle size and strength by bringing more water to the muscles. Hence, it’s essential to stay adequately hydrated by drinking sufficient water throughout the day to support the body's fluid balance.
Cycling and breaks: While creatine is generally safe for long-term use, some individuals choose to cycle off creatine for short periods, such as a few weeks, after extended periods of supplementation. However, there is no consensus on the need for cycling, and it may vary based on individual preferences.
Quality and reputable brands: To ensure the safety and quality of the creatine supplement, it's a good idea to choose products from reputable brands that follow good manufacturing practices (GMP) and have undergone testing by an independent party testing for purity and quality.
You can try using SteadCreatine from the house of Steadfast Nutrition, a premium nutrition and wellness brand providing organ-friendly supplements. Their mantras are “Know Organs Better” and “For Athletes, By Athletes”. SteadCreatine contains 1500 mg of creatine monohydrate, which helps muscle cells produce energy, helps in muscle growth, increases muscle strength, and improves cognitive function.
Remember, it's always wise to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement or making changes to your regimen, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns. They can provide personalised advice and guidance based on your specific needs and circumstances.