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Creatine Supplements – Are They Right for Me?

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That is a simple but important question that everyone wants answered. Whenever you come across advice about a supplement there is always someone providing a convincing argument why you should take it. However, there is often a nagging doubt in the back of your mind asking ‘will this really help or work for me? This article will give you some simple advice and point you in the right direction to find out more about Creatine and where you can get more information so you can make an educated decision for yourself.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is one of the most widely used sports supplements on the market today. Its primary use is in strength and bulk-building exercises that improve performance for high-intensity sports, providing an edge in anaerobic athletic competitions. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance and it comes from meat, especially wild game and some fish. It key to building powerful skeletal muscle such as biceps, triceps and pecs.

Quite simply Creatine retains water in your muscles. This is the point of creatine and it really is effective at keeping water in the muscles. What happens is, when your muscles are retaining water they are in a good state for building new muscle. As a result, when you weight train you will get more of an effect because your muscles are more capable of building muscle. After this period you may increase your strength and increase your endurance as well.

So, if you are taking creatine to help you build muscle and you understand what creatine does and how it helps you build muscle then you will not be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are taking creatine and hoping it will simply grow you bodybuilder’s muscles without putting in the work then you are mistaken.

Creatine first became available in the athletic arena in 1993, and it has enjoyed a long, and nearly uninterrupted surge in use. Interest first peaked in the months following the 1992 Summer Olympics. During those games a number of athletes who went on to win medals reported later that they had used creatine supplements to enhance their training programmes. Since creatine is a natural substance there are no restrictions on its use among athletes.

Unlike many other types of sports supplements or performance enhancers that rise and fall with current trends, creatine continues to prove time and again that it does exactly what is required i.e. it makes muscles bigger, faster, stronger.

How Does Creatine Work?

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is generated in the human body, as well as ingested as part of a natural meat-eating diet. Your liver and kidneys produce small amounts of creatine and if you eat meat, particularly game, and fish like tuna and herring, you gain more natural creatine that in turn becomes available to your skeletal muscles: the biceps, triceps, pecs and all other muscles that form the structure of your body. But if you’re looking to pack on muscle bulk fast then these natural sources are not enough.

In your skeletal muscles, where you build bulk and generate the energy for movement, creatine participates in the complex muscle contraction process to maximize muscle energy. Adenosine Triphosphate, (ATP) is a key fuel for muscle contraction, the repetition exercises you perform when bodybuilding. The more ATP you make available to your muscles the more energy created to power bodybuilding and boost performance in sports like sprinting, and rowing. Normal levels of ATP allow you only a few seconds of high-intensity energy.

Creatine fuels ATP development, which means: · Sustained high intensity and power workouts · More energy for muscle contraction · Vastly improved power and muscle size · Workout longer and stronger.

The chemical formulations for creatine are quite plentiful, but don’t let them confuse you. They all feed your body creatine, in varying percentages.

Creatine formulations, or types of creatine include, but are not limited to:

  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Creatine Ester Ethyl
  • Creatine Citrate
  • Ester Creatine, or Creatine Ester Ethyl Hydrochloride

How Do I Take It?

Scientists have been experimenting with creatine formulae and supplements since the late 1920s, although they have only been on the market for the last couple of decades. Thanks to these years of early studies, safe and improved creatine formulae are hitting now available. What was once a gritty, grainy powder you mixed into water can now also be a key ingredient in a variety of edible supplements.

· Liquid drink. Micronized creatine is super-pulverized powder that dissolves faster and more completely than previous formulations of powdered creatine. In this liquid form creatine is more readily and more completely absorbed and made useable in your muscles.

· Chewable creatine supplements – Loading or maintaining creatine couldn’t get any simpler than eating an energy bar or a creatine chew.

Creatine cycling, or creatine loading and maintenance, is a regimen that helps you with proper dosing levels of creatine for maximum benefit. Orthodox creatine users go through a load phase, followed by a maintenance phase:

· Creatine loading typically lasts for 5 days. During this loading phase you ingest multiple doses of creatine daily and at various intervals.

· During your creatine maintenance phase you consume 1 dose of creatine per day, usually within an hour before your workout (liquid formulas). You can get even greater muscle size by carefully developing and testing your own personal program of interchangeable creatine forms (i.e. liquid, bars, chews, etc) and cycling between loading and maintenance regimens that work best for you. Each time you incorporate a slightly different creatine formula or form, you push muscle size and power to the limit.

What Should I Use It For?

Creatine makes available the extra muscle-building energy you need to get a more effective power workout. You can’t simply take creatine supplements and wake up to increased muscle size. You still have to do the hard work and do your workout. Make the best use of creatine by taking it an hour or so prior to a high intensity workout session. Creatine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and put right into muscle tissue.

The best thing to do is begin taking creatine and working out with weights on a regular routine or even with a trainer. By taking the creatine your muscles will be poised to grow and get stronger while building endurance. However, keep in mind you have to put in all the hard work and that all creatine does for you is helps your muscles retain water in order to be in a state where building muscle is easier. Over time you will see your muscles growing and should not see any loss of definition because of the retained water in your muscles. Don’t become confused about creatine building big muscles; it just helps your muscles build themselves stronger and better when you put in the work.

Are There Any Side Effects?

In general creatine supplements are safe to use however, with every new nutritional supplement you do run a risk of side effects. It is advisable to try out the various proven formulas that have a track record of use already. Always follow the product label instructions.

Any problems or discomfort creatine users have had often have to do with the kidneys or gastro-intestinal upset, like diarrhoea. If you have any pre-existing kidney or gastro problems talk to your doctor before consuming any creatine supplements. If you develop any discomfort or other physical problems during your use of creatine then you should immediately consult a doctor.

Summary

Creatine is not the answer for everyone or every athlete. Anabolic sports and activities gain the most benefit from creatine. But endurance exercises are unimproved. Creatine builds ATP, which gives you more bursts of intense energy–the keyword being “bursts.” As with any supplement different people experience different levels of benefit. Ultimately you need to assess the sport you pursue and what you want to achieve. Use the supplements as instructed on the labels and see what benefit you get.

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