Creatine is actually a nutrient that is formed naturally in the body. It is amino acid based and is created by the amino’s already in your body that you get from the food you eat. Creatine is present in the highest amounts in red meat.
Once your body gets creatine from meat or other sources it converts it into phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine is important because it is used to store energy in your muscle. Energy that you’ll need to do rep after rep in the gym to build your muscles bigger and stronger. That’s why creatine is used by so many to increase their lean muscle mass and their strength. Creatine is considered quite safe and is classed by the FDA as a food supplement.
Some people have said that creatine is the most legitimate sports supplement available today, largely because there has been so much research done with creatine compared to other sports supplements. Creatine is used extensively, mostly by those athlete’s who can bebefit from increased strength such as weightlifters, bodybuilders, wrestlers and even sprinters. All of these sports require sudden bursts of strength (or energy) for short periods of time and that is exactly what phosphocreatine provides to them. In addition, creatine helps athletes to recover faster from maximum efforts.
Creatine is safe even if massive doses are taken because the body will only store so much and the rest is expelled as waste through the kidneys. An additional benefit of creatine supplementation is that it can supercharge the body with much higher levels of creatine than normal diet alone. Phosphocreatine is known to bond with water so this creates an increase in weight that is also beneficial to most strength athletes.
Creatine is almost without side effects. Some people will experience cramps when they begin to take creatine, but this is almost always because they are not taking in enough water with their creatine. Dosages of creatine should be 3-5 grams of creatine per day. Each gram should be taken with 8 ounces of water to avoid cramping and to help superhydrate the muscles. Some people have suggested a pre-loading phase with super high levels of creatine being ingested, but this is really not necessary as your body will get to it’s maximum creatine levels within a week or two anyway.
Creatine is available in several forms with the most popular being creatine monohydrate. Usually this type of creatine is combined with glucose or another simple sugar to create an insulin spike and increase absorbtion of the creatine. This is ok it you’re bulking, but quite bad for those who are cutting carbohydrates to lose weight. Another alternative is creatine ethyl ester which is a bit more expensive, but is not combined with simple sugars and has an absorbtion rate 30-40 times that of creatine monohydrate.
No matter which you choose, creatine is a mainstay for the strength athlete. If you haven’t tried it yet I suggest that you do. Some people see very impressive strength gains and weight gains of 10-15 pounds in several weeks.
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