Creatine is a naturally produced compound in our body that can be found in just about all cells. It can also be found in meat, eggs, and fish, which all contain naturally high levels of this vital substance.
Typically creatine is stored within the cells of our muscles and serve as an “energy reserve”. These energy reserves can help increase the intensity and duration of your workout routines (which is a great thing when you are facing plateaus!). This is why using creatine as a supplement is so helpful for building muscle mass and increasing strength.
For those who are looking to ‘put on muscle’, you can turn to creatine for that much-needed, extra boost. It is safe to use for most people (but consult your doctor before trying it, just in case), as well as being effective, affordable and proven to work!
Let’s take a closer look at creatine and what it can do for your muscles.
Benefits of Taking Creatine
There are a few key ways that it aids in building muscle mass:
- More strength leads to more effective workouts. The harder you train, the more you can push your muscles and, consequently, the more muscle mass you will gain over time.
- A faster recovery rate results in better workouts. The sooner your muscles recover, the sooner you can do more repetitions, and that will help you burst through plateaus.
- It creates what some refer to as a “cellular swelling” effect. Research has shown creatine supplementation causes an increase in the amount of water that the muscle cells hold onto, which creates the “swelling” effect.
- The anti-catabolic properties of this compound are also useful. Studies have shown that it can help reduce waste buildup in the muscles and can keep the muscle cells healthy. This can ultimately contribute to improving your gains over time.
When to Take Creatine
Like all supplements used for bodybuilding and muscle mass retention, there is an ideal time to take the supplements that will help you get the most out of it. The same holds true for creatine, and there are two basic schools of thought for when to take the supplement- before or after the workout.
Most weight lifters and bodybuilders take it as part of their pre-workout routine. The majority take it 30 minutes before going to the gym. This works in theory, but not all forms of creatine become available in the bloodstream that quickly. The various elements and nutrients in it need time to get into the bloodstream and the muscles, where they can ultimately prove effective.
This process takes time so, even for the fastest absorbing creatine forms, the body needs at least an hour for the creatine to be completely absorbed and fully beneficial.
The second traditional time for taking creatine supplements is during the post-workout. Many argue that this post-workout period is the best time to take it because it’s the most efficient time for such supplements to be used by the body. This is due to the biological cycles which occur after a workout such as water, oxygen, and nutrient absorption.
Additionally, the post-workout meal will naturally spike your insulin levels – an essential aspect of optimal creatine absorption and use within the body. Furthermore, since it helps to expand muscle cells and provides it own energy source for these cells, it promotes muscle synthesis and makes it easier to build more muscle mass.
Top Five types of Creatine
In short, creatine monohydrate is a non-protein source of nitrogen. While it can be found in many food sources, notably fish and meat, it can also be used in specialist supplements, such as Kre-Alkalyn.
Research shows that this form of creatine is best absorbed under a pH of 7 (neutral pH) which can be difficult to maintain within the human body. Some users report seeing no drop in their bodybuilding and muscle addition progress, while others say it does not appear to be as effective as other forms.
One key to ensuring success with this supplement is maintaining a healthy and balanced body chemistry, achieved through proper dieting, before taking the supplement.
This is a variant that has one of the highest absorption rates. As such, it is a very common ingredient (because it can be easily concentrated) which can be found in the likes of Creacore Creatine HCI supplement. Because it requires much less water to become soluble, you can easily get more creatine per scoop. If you have stomach problems while using creatine HCI, try using warm or room temperature water instead of cold water.
As the name suggests, creatine nitrate is a supplement that comes bonded with nitrate, something that is not found in regular monohydrate formulas. This form of creatine has been shown to have rapid absorption respect to other variations. It has a faster acting time, which makes it perfect for a quick pre- or post-workout usage. Consequently, it is ideal for bodybuilders and athletes who want creatine supplements to be available through other timing schedules before, during, or after their daily workouts.
Di-creatine malate is a combination of creatine and malic acid, which is another supplement produced naturally by living beings. As a result of this acid, many believe di-creatine malate allows the creatine to enter cells more efficiently, allowing for better muscle growth. It is found in numerous bodybuilder and weight lifting supplements, such as Green Magnitude, where it is paired with magnesium creatine chelate.
Magnesium Creatine Chelate
Similar to creatine nitrate, magnesium creatine chelate is bonded to another substance; in this case, magnesium. This is because of magnesium, which is readily absorbed by muscles, gives the creatine an alternative, yet effective way, to enter the body. Because magnesium is an alkaline substance, it helps counter the acidic conditions of the stomach, ensuring the creatine is preserved. Because of this, it is often a go-to supplement for bodybuilders.
This form of creatine supplement is gaining popularity among those focus on healthy muscle production. It is made from creatine monohydrate and malic acid for an optimum combination of powerful nutrients and enhancements. Malic acid has been shown to boost energy levels within the body, as well as further enhancing muscle strength and overall performance. Tri-creatine malate is more water-soluble and offers faster absorption and less stomach discomfort than other forms of creatine that are commonly used in other supplements.
Creatine is a powerful supplement that provides an excellent opportunity for improving muscle building and bulking rates.
Using something that is naturally occurring in your body as a supplemental aid is a safer and healthier alternative to many other chemical derived supplements on the market. This is why it has become very popular within the bodybuilding and weightlifting community.
I hope this article gave you some useful insights on what creatine is and which creatine supplements are the best to use!