This post is sponsored by my friends at NOW Foods and they have so many amazing products, including my favorite creatine, on their site. Use FITNESSISTA with a 20% discount. This is also a friendly reminder that this post is not medical information and is not intended to prevent, treat, cure or diagnose any disease. Always talk to your doctor before adding new supplements to your rotation.
Hello friends! How is the day treating you so far? I hope you are having a wonderful morning. For today’s post, I’m chatting about a big reader-requested topic and one of my favorite supplements: creatine.
Creatine is often taken by athletes and bodybuilders to improve their performance, but it is also used by the elderly and vegetarians for health purposes. Not everyone knows the right way to take creatine, how it works, or what to consider before adding it to your supplement routine.
In today’s post, I’m sharing a guide that can provide some education and help make informed choices when it comes to taking creatine, depending on the intended use. A friendly reminder that your doctor will help you decide if supplementing with creatine is a good choice.
An overview of creatine intake
Creatine is a supplement that can be taken as a powder or liquid before or after a workout. I prefer to take it as a post workout, but that’s the thing with creatine you have to take it consistently to see and feel the difference.
What is creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid that is stored mainly in muscle cells, with a small percentage in our brain, kidneys and liver. You can get creatine in your diet from animal products such as seafood and meat. This is why vegetarians and vegans are likely to have lower creatine stores than omnivores and can often benefit from supplementation. Because creatine can be used for energy production during heavy lifting and high-intensity training, it is often used for performance enhancement.* Your body naturally produces 1-2g of creatine per day in the liver and pancreas.
Creatine is widely researched, easy to find, and inexpensive. My favorite creatine can be found here.
Types of creatine
Creatine monohydrate is the most widely studied and inexpensive. Other common forms of creatine (including creatine ethyl ester, phosphate, liquid, and creatine magnesium chelate) don’t have as much research.
What does creatine do for women?
There are many benefits to taking creatine, but here are the top two that I think are important for women:
Lean muscle building*
Creatine can be especially beneficial for women as they age, as estrogen levels decline and muscle mass becomes more difficult to build and maintain. I’m a big believer that ALL women should be strength training, and it’s becoming more important as time goes on. Having muscle on your frame promotes a strong metabolism and also protects your bones. Being able to move functionally in all ranges of motion can also help maintain balance and strength for daily activities over time and prevent falls. I think creatine can be an incredible addition to a solid strength training routine.
Supports cognitive function and mood*
I’m all for anything that helps me feel a little less foggy mentally and also helps balance my mood throughout the day. Our brain also uses ATP, and increasing stored creatine can help maintain a positive mood.
Advantages and disadvantages of creatine
Benefits of creatine
- This is one of the longest researched supplements for safety. Creatine has been studied for over 200 years and has a long track record (see what I did there) of being safe and effective.
- Performance of fitness! In short, creatine helps your cells produce ATP, which is the energy used for quick bursts of effort. We typically deplete our creatine stores, which can cause us to fail or tire early during a sprint or power set. Creatine provides that little extra boost.*
- It can increase muscle growth in the short and long term*.
- Possible positive effects on mood and mental health.
- Mental performance and memory. In this study, creatine supplementation had a significant positive effect on both working memory (back digit span) and intelligence (Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices), both tasks requiring processing speed*.
- It is tasteless. It really doesn’t taste the same. If it didn’t make the water look a little cloudy, you wouldn’t know it was there. You can also dissolve it in hot drinks, such as tea, or add it to a smoothie.
- It can cause you to gain weight on the scale. Creatine can encourage cells to retain water (giving you the extra appearance of muscle), which can lead to weight gain on the scale. I’m a fan of ignoring the scale. especially if you are feeling great and performing and recovering well
- May affect sleep.* The jury is still out on whether this is a negative or positive effect. When researchers added creatine monohydrate to the rats’ diet, their sleep duration and structure changed. Despite requiring less sleep and less deep sleep, creatine can still provide benefits that are the opposite of what you would see with reduced sleep, especially when it comes to mental capacity and physical performance. If you find it affects your sleep, I would try taking it in the morning
- Better for quick bursts of effort (such as sprinting and weightlifting), not prolonged steady state*
- May have some side effects such as muscle cramps, stomach upset, bloating. I recommend starting slowly and seeing how your body reacts before trying a full dose all at once.
When is the best time to take creatine?
I like to take creatine after my workouts, but any time of day works. I would consult with your doctor for creatine dosage, but general recommendations are 3-5g. I consume 3g and I noticed a difference. it’s all about finding the lowest effective dosage.
If you have significant muscle building and performance goals, you can also do a creatine loading phase at the beginning of the cycle, which involves taking higher amounts of creatine spread out in blocks throughout the day for anywhere from a week to 10 days. (I recommend this method only in unique situations where you are working with your trainer and doctor or practitioner.)
I also cycle my creatine. I will take it for a few months and then take a break for a few weeks before bringing it back into my routine.
Creatine before and after
I noticed physical changes after I started taking creatine, but I noticed a more significant difference in cognition and mental function.* I felt clearer and more focused.* I’m not going to post before and after pictures here, but from adding creatine to me after. routine, during strength training I felt the lights when I lit up. I was able to lift heavier and recover better and also noticed some improvements in my muscle tone*.
It’s also worth noting here that creatine by itself does NOT make you bigger. Only a strategic strength training plan designed to build mass, a caloric surplus, and bulk can do that, so don’t worry about turning into the Hulk with regular creatine supplements.
So tell me friends, have you taken creatine? Are you going to give it a try?
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.