The body produces creatine naturally from amino acids. Its main role is to help in the supply of energy to all body cells, especially muscle cells. The body’s active transport system transports creatine through the blood to be used by sections of the body that demand high energy. Examples are the brain and skeletal muscle.
Creatine, supplied in gelatin capsules or flavored powders to be mixed with liquids, is a very popular supplement for both professional and recreational athletes, and it’s very easy to see why. Its effects on lean muscle tissue, strength and power have been scientifically proven. Its main role is the production of energy for both short-duration and high-intensity exercises. It makes the body produce energy in rapid bursts. With increased energy, you are able to push yourself more in training and train more often. Whether creatine improves endurance performances or not has not been proven yet, however the research seems promising.
Can Creatine Cause Weight Gain?
Yes. Taking creatine will lead to some weight gain. However, most of the initial weight gained is water. This can make you up to 4 pounds heavier the first week after your intake. From here on, the rest of the weight gained is muscle. This will be caused by an increase in the workload you will be handling.
Remember: The muscle gain will only happen if you capitalize on the energy boost and put in more work in the gym. If you don’t, it will remain as just water weight. Since creatine is “osmotically” active, it will draw water into the muscle cells, which will lead to an increase in protein synthesis.
Benefits of creatine
Improves athletic performance
Creatine supplements are very effective in high-intensity training. This is because they boost the body’s ability to produce energy. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the amount of effort that can be put in exercises.
Helps people with muscular disorders
A good example is people suffering from muscular dystrophy. Some studies have shown that some people with this disorder saw their muscle strength increase by up to 8.5%. Creatine treatment, therefore, provides muscular strength for people with genetic muscular conditions.
Treatment of depression
Although the evidence is not very conclusive, creatine has some properties that can help deal with some of the symptoms of depression. South Korean researchers found that some women suffering from depression experienced remissions two times quicker when they added a little creatine to their antidepressant doses.
Improves brain power
There is also evidence that creatine can improve memory and intelligence. Creatine has been found to prevent a reduction in attention when the brain is deprived of oxygen. It can also boost cognition in elderly people.
Speeds up the rate of muscle growth
It is arguably the most effective supplement when it comes to aiding muscle growth. Taking creatine for just one week will significantly increase muscle size and lean body weight. However, you will still need to put the work in with exercises.
Creatine has been seen to reduce fatigue while increasing energy levels during periods of sleep deprivation. It also reduces exercise-induced fatigue during and after exercises.
Does creatine have any side effects?
As long as you take it in the recommended doses, creatine is safe to use. However, it is important to seek your doctor’s advice before you start taking creatine supplements. The side effects are mostly mild. They include muscle cramping, nausea, diarrhea and stomach pain.