Creatine is one of the most studied natural supplements. It has been popular since the 1990s, with sports persons regularly consuming creatine powder to enhance their performance. Studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in improving performance in activities that require short bursts of energy, such as track and swim sprints, basketball, volleyball, downhill skiing, and rugby.
Production of Creatine
Creatine is produced in your body in the liver, kidney, and pancreas. It is found predominantly as creatine phosphate in the muscles and is necessary to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – molecules that provide energy to your muscles. While the body produces about 1gram of creatine per day, it actually needs more. The rest of creatine can be obtained from the diet – meats, poultry, and fish.
However, athletes would need to eat large amounts of food to produce the creatine required by their bodies. To avoid overeating, they turn to creatine substitutes. Since creatine substitutes provide the same nutrients as food, the International Olympic Committee allows creatine consumption as a performance enhancer.
Benefits of Creatine
1. Improves Muscle Strength
Studies show a positive correlation between how much creatine is present and how well the particular muscle performs. More creatine uptake by the muscle translates to higher energy production and thus improved strength. Athletes who consumed creatine supplements for 12 weeks were able to maintain a higher training intensity during the period and displayed significantly better strength performance.
2. Increases Lean Muscle Mass
Creatine is shown to increase the water content in muscles in a process known as volumisation. It helps build muscles by increasing the presence of muscle growth hormones. A review study found that people who regularly consumed creatine reported a 2.2% increase in lean body mass. The vast scientific literature on creatine’s effectiveness in building muscles mass has contributed to it becoming the most popular legal supplement.
3. Aids in Muscle Recovery
Creatine helps in reducing the breakdown rate of muscles after a strenuous exercise. Over a while, the reduced breakdown helps in building more muscles. High-intensity training demands an incredible amount of ATP from your muscles. So much so that the strained muscles require ATP up to 48 hours after a workout. If your muscle has a reservoir of creatine to dip into on your recovery day, your muscles will recover faster without affecting their mass. For the same reason, creatine can also help in the quick healing of muscle injuries.
4. Helps in Treating Weakened Muscles
Apart from performance-enhancing among athletes and fitness experts, creatine promises to have therapeutic uses. Creatine deficiency can cause various conditions such as congestive heart failure, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. Oral ingestion of creatine can help patients get some relief from their illness.
5. Can Help in Thermoregulation of the Body
More recent studies have discovered the potential of using creatine in helping the body maintain a healthy temperature. Participants who were given creatine supplements could maintain a cooler body temperature when exercising under hot conditions of up to 39 degrees centigrade. This angle is still being researched and promises to have good uses in fields apart from sports.
Creatine is one of the most researched natural supplements and is one of the few legal muscle-building and performance-enhancing supplements allowed by various regulatory authorities. Using of creating has not been associated with significant side-effects among healthy individuals. Irrespective of your health conditions, do consult your doctor before purchasing creatine powder for your needs. And this way, you can avoid uncertainties.