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Creatine Monohydrate Is It Any Good And Does It Actually Work?

Glass and serving scoop of creatine monohydrate

Creatine Monohydrate Is It Any Good?

So is creatine monohydrate really any good? Second only too protein, Creatine is one of the most popular muscle building supplements on the market. The reason for its popularity? It is one of the few supplements available which studies have actually proven delivers what it is says on the tin. But should you be putting it into your body without weighing up the pros and cons? And can you really feel and notice any difference in performance when on creatine?

It is also important to note, that there is a vast amount of supplement companies love to publish these outlandish claims such as “the best creatine monohydrate on the market” or “click here for the best creatine powder”. Whats funny is that once you have read this post you will see that these statements are in fact quite misleading, but we will get to that in a moment!

 

What Is Creatine?

Despite what some people say Creatine is nothing scary and far from a Rich Piana starter pack!

Typically coming in tablet or powder form, Creatine is in fact is completely natural (Yes you heard correctly, natural creatine) and produced inside your body. It can be found in small dosages in meats/fish and increases the body’s ability to rapidly produce energy. This means when on creatine, you can train harder, for longer and more often, thus enabling you to progress more quickly.

 

How Does Creatine Work?

Once ingesting, Creatine gets to work by converting itself into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is your body’s primary energy source. When the natural Creatine stores in your muscles are depleted the production of this energy source ATP is put on hold and your energy quickly diminishes. Therefore supplementing with Creatine will increase the available fuel in your body to power ATP production, which can result in increased muscle size, strength and power output.

 

Can It Benefit Me?

Its difficult to say how much benefit you will receive as each person has been shown to respond differently depending on genetics and so on. But the good news is if you respond well you will know about it fairly rapidly. If you find within the first week or two that your training volume increases and your maybe able to squeeze out a couple extra reps on exercises were you previously would have struggled, then you can fairly confidently assume you are responding well.

Since Creatine naturally occurs in meat and fish, vegetarians will often see the most significant response, while someone whose diet is already fairly high in meat and fish, might see less of a change due to there natural creatine levels already being moderately elevated.

 

When to take it?

Looking at all the current information and studies conducted on Creatine, it is suggested that the optimal time to take it is immediately after your workout. But the timing of Creatine consumption whether its before or after your workout isn’t as crucial as some people suggest. This is because Creatine has no immediate effect on muscle size or strength. Only when your body is saturated with Creatine through a consistent period of maintenance consumption will you fully benefit from it.

 

How Much Are They?

The cost of Creatine varies quite drastically in some cases so be careful not to get stung on price when you don’t need too. In the past I have seen some supplement companies charge up to 40% more than there competitors for an almost an identical product.

As stated from my other posts, I only recommend products, which I have personally used in the past and personally feel would benefit the Train Natural community.

Over the last five years I have tried a few different brands and types of Creatine Supplements, trailing both creatine powder and tablet forms.

Right off the back I will say when it comes to value for money, Creatine powders tend to deliver the best bang for your buck. Along with the saving in price, Creatine powder dissolved in either water or fruit juice is also easier for your body to digest than a tablet.

Creatine Powder Average Price = £12 per 250g

Creatine Tablets Average Price = £18 per 200 tablets

 

Average price Per 2.5g Serving

Creatine Powder

£0.12

Creatine Tablets

£0.22

 

Which Ones To Buy?

Depending on what your after you can usually buy pure Creatine Monohydrate powder on its own or as part of an enhanced Creatine blended product. These enhanced Creatine blended products are the tubs you see advertised for upwards of £40 with claims of the ultimate Creatine formula and so on…

Truth be told I’ve never tried these enhanced formulas because in my opinion I cant justify the expense for something which no doubt does just as good a job at a 1/3 of the price. I may look into trailing some of the more popular and well-reviewed Creatine blended supplements in the future, but for now I will be sticking with 100% Creatine Monohydrate. Typically there isn’t one single “Best Creatine Powder” because at the end of the day creatine is creatine. My opinion on the supplement has always been to go for a cheap creatine powder from a well known brand.

The Creatine monohydrate powder I have been using for the last couple of years is from MyProtien. The other Creatine supplement, which I have also used from time to time in the past, is from USN. I have provided links to the two products below if you want to check them out yourself.

Creatine monohydrate is it any good supplement review of health benefits

MyProtein – Creatine Monohydrate

USN – Creatine Monohydrate

 

Does it have any side effects?

They’re our a few myths circulating about possible side effects from Creatine. One is that of dehydration and headaches, this is because Creatine uses a large amount of water to increase protein synthesis. This is why it is common to gain a few pounds in weight after the first few days of consumption. This is not necessary a bad thing, as the extra water mass will not only help you feel more pumped but you will cause your muscles too look it too. So Ensure that you follow the recommended guidelines on the label regarding drinking enough water and you should be fine.

There are concerns floating around about long term kidney, liver and heart problems associated with Creatine. However the connection between these negative effects and high dose Creatine supplementation has not been proven.

Scientists are constantly studying the effects of Creatine and its safety, which is partly the reason why so many health experts support its use as studies have indicated it is safe. But to be safe it’s recommended that you only use Creatine if you are healthy and have no current or past kidney problems. This is because your kidneys excrete creatinine, which is a product broken down from Creatine.

 

Case Study

A study conducted by Jeff Volek, PhD, at Penn State University was the first to measure the changes in muscle fibre size from supplementing Creatine. After 12 weeks of supplementing with either a placebo or Creatine (25 grams a day for one week followed by 5 grams a day for 11 weeks) and participating in a regimented weight training program, the group taking Creatine increased lean body mass, maximum bench press, and maximum squat significantly higher than the placebo group. The group taking Creatine also showed a larger increase in muscle fibre cross sectional area (the muscle fibre’s increased in size) than placebo. And no negative side effects were reported.

(Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise; 1999, 31: 1147-1156.)

 

Final Verdict

At the end of the day a good diet is the fundamental key to any muscle building program so after a analysis of the pros and cons of Creatine, whilst Creatine may offer benefits such as increased muscle size and strength, it is vital to ensure your diet is in check as Creatine alone will not create miracles. It’s important to take note that Creatine by itself will not build muscle. Only though intense exercise and making use of the additional ATP can you better encourage and promote muscle growth and strength improvements. Taking it without exercising won’t directly build any muscle but it may offer other health benefits.

So to summarise Creatine is perhaps the most inexpensive, safest and beneficial supplement out there which bodybuilders and athletes have been using for decades. It has proven studies, which back up its claims and having used Creatine myself, I can vouch for these claims. And by following the manufactures recommendations and checking with your doctor it is unlikely you will experience any side effects whilst on creatine.

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