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Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are careful about what they feed their bodies to achieve optimal performance. While they prioritize having a balanced diet, it won’t be appropriate in specific scenarios. A competing athlete may not be able to get the nutrition they need during a competition.

For example, it would be impossible for a triathlete to bring a fresh banana when racing. In such cases, they would turn to supplements. Among these supplements is creatine.

For those new to fitness supplements, creatine may seem confusing and overwhelming. With so many different forms and dosages available, it can be tricky to know where to start.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in muscle cells, where it plays a critical role in producing energy during intense physical activity. It is also available as a dietary supplement, including powder, capsules, and liquids.

Creatine is an acid your liver and kidneys can synthesize after consuming protein. Animal-based protein sources, such as fish and red meat, contain natural amounts of creatine. However, obtaining the same level of creatine found in most creatine supplements from dietary sources alone is difficult. One would need to consume an almost infeasible amount of these protein sources.

Creatine has the potential to enhance both athletic performance and overall health through various mechanisms. One such mechanism involves increasing phosphocreatine levels in muscles during high-intensity exercise. This increase in phosphocreatine levels can facilitate the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP serves as the primary energy source for activities such as heavy lifting and high-intensity exercise.

These effects are the primary reason this supplement is popular among bodybuilders and athletes.

Effects of Creatine on Your Body

Creatine isn’t just for athletes and bodybuilders. It also has other benefits. Here are some of them.

Increased Muscle Strength

One of the primary benefits of creatine is its ability to increase muscle strength and size.

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When creatine becomes phosphocreatine, your muscles can use it as an energy source. As a result, the intake of a creatine supplement can enhance athletic performance by increasing the amount of energy available to your muscles.

A study found that creatine supplementation significantly improved muscle strength and power in healthy adults who participated in resistance training.

Another study found that creatine supplementation increased muscle fiber size and improved muscle strength in older adults.

Prevent Injuries

Oral supplementation of creatine lowers the incidence of cramping and dehydration, ultimately preventing injuries. A study highlighted the importance of creatine as a safe and effective supplement for their rehabilitation. Certain medical conditions, such as muscle wasting disorders and neuromuscular diseases, can improve with creatine.

Improve Bone Health

In the same study above, researchers concluded that creatine supplementation might have neuroprotective effects and benefits for bone health. Creatine supplementation can improve muscle strength and increase lean body mass, particularly in older adults at increased risk of bone loss and fractures.

A study of postmenopausal women found that creatine supplementation improved bone density and reduced markers of bone breakdown.

Enhanced Cognition

A study that evaluated the effect of creatine on brain health found evidence that the supplement may improve short-term memory and reasoning. However, it’s worth noting that executive function, attention, and long-term memory showed no apparent effect.

Better Skin Health

Does creatine cause acne? The short answer is no. In fact, creatine can delay signs of aging. The use of creatine supplementation stimulates the synthesis of collagen, ceramide, and glycosaminoglycan, all known to improve skin health. Creatine also induces skin relief critical for reducing wrinkles.

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While creatine is generally considered safe, some individuals may experience side effects such as stomach upset, cramping, and dehydration. Speaking with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement is necessary. This is especially true if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking medications.

Key Takeaways

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in muscle cells that help produce energy during intense physical activity. It has been a popular supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts for decades, and for a good reason. It can increase muscle strength and size. Recent studies have also shown it to have potential benefits for cognitive function, bone health, and even certain medical conditions.

  • Increasing muscle strength
  • Preventing injuries
  • Improving bone health
  • Enhancing brain health
  • Better skin health