There are several myths that have spread over the last decade in the fitness community regarding creatine consumption, such as it causing dehydration, muscle cramps, even kidney disease. And the myth that in order for it to be effective you need to take it with grape juice. Creatine is undoubtedly one of the most effective and cheapest fitness supplements you could ever use.
In a meta-analysis done in 2004, 42 out of 66 studies showed that supplementing with creatine led to increased lean muscle mass in young and middle-aged adults. There are people who do not respond to creatine supplementation, but that percentage of the population which doesn’t experience any benefits is pretty small.
Creatine supplements usage is a well-established practice for professional athletes who are seeking for that edge in their physical performance and recovery across a range of fitness and athletic fields. This has made creatine the biggest selling sports supplement in the world, and it is widely used by baseball and football players, bodybuilders, weightlifters, Cross-Fitters, MMA athletes, sprinters and millions of fitness enthusiasts. It is by far the most effective sports supplement you can find on the market.
Creatine monohydrate is the top ranked performance-enhancing sports supplement currently available to athletes for increasing the capacity for high-intensity exercise as well as lean body mass while training. Around 95% of the creatine in your body is found in skeletal muscle. It works by supplying energy to all your cells, primarily muscle cells, by increasing the production of Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP) which acts as the cell energy reserve for muscle contractions.
The main process of creatine in your body is to store phosphate groups high in energy in the form of phosphocreatine. When the body is under stress, such as when training, phosphocreatine releases this contained energy to power proper cellular functioning. This is the exact process which causes creatine to increase muscle strength, however, almost every other body system can benefits, such as the brain, bones, and liver. Most benefits from creatine happen through this energy releasing mechanism.
Taking 3 grams of creatine daily is scientifically proven to increase physical performance in successive bursts of short-term, high-intensity training like interval cardio and weight training. Being one of the most popular supplements used in the sports industry, it has been used by all types of athletes around the world to help promote energy output, strength, muscular energy, endurance, and repair. As a compound that is naturally found within the human body, supplementing with it has been shown to increase the formation of ATP molecules which ultimately helps optimize and prolong workout sessions.
In this article, we are going to list the top 10 reasons why you should use creatine during the entire year.
Creatine decreases myostatin and increases muscle IGF-1
In 2008, a study reported something rather shocking. Supplementing with creatine for 10 days straight stimulated genes related to anabolic signal transduction. In a study published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, scientists examined how creatine consumption affected the levels of the catabolic gene myostatin and the anabolic gene IGF-1 in muscle tissue in men who were experienced in resistance training. Myostatin is known to suppress the growth of muscle tissue and its levels are often increased in muscle-wasting diseases like AIDS and cancer. Many therapies meant to combat muscle wasting involve myostatin suppressing genes.
Animals born with various genetic defects in myostatin tend to have very big muscles. This means that any time myostatin levels are lowered, it is a good thing for building muscle. IGF-1 is an anabolic gene found in muscle tissue and it is often increased after doing a high-intensity workout session. Anytime IGF-1 levels are increased, lean muscle tissue is also increased. When scientists blasted the legs of mice, they found that radiation therapy eliminated IGF-1 levels in their muscles completely and the muscles atrophied. So, raising IGF-1 levels in muscle tissue is a good thing for building muscle mass.
Simply put, raising IGF-1 levels in muscle tissue and decreasing myostatin levels is a great combination for building muscle mass. In one study, 28 healthy male participants were put on a resistance training regimen and supplemented with creatine. The study found that supplementing with creatine while on a resistance training regimen further amplifies the decrease in serum levels of myostatin induced by training, thus increasing the effects of training of muscle mass and strength. Other studies have found that creatine consumption increases muscle IGF-1 responses as well combined with raising satellite cell activation. This means that creatine is helping increase muscle mass on a cellular level.
Creatine raises resting testosterone levels and reduces cortisol levels
Another study produced results which showed that continuous supplementation with creatine for 5 days straight when combined with weight training is sufficient to increase the concentration of testosterone in the bloodstream and decrease cortisol levels. Twenty males who were physically active were assigned randomly to either a creating supplementing group or a placebo group. During each workout session, the participants did 3 sets x 10 repetitions of 9 exercises that included: overhead press, bench press, lat pull-down, biceps curls, squats, leg extensions, leg press, leg curls and ab crunches.
The program’s intensity was set at 75-85% of the subjects’ one-rep max. A rest interval of one minute was allowed between sets of each exercise. When the study ended, subjects of the group that took creatine showed a significant increase in testosterone concentrations and decreased cortisol levels, compared to the placebo group and baseline, after 5 and 7 days of “loading” with creatine. The results of this study suggest that supplementing with creatine for more than 5 days combined with weight training is enough to increase testosterone concentrations and decrease cortisol levels. If you’ve been considering to supplement with creatine, this is a perfect example of why you should get started as soon as possible.
Creatine decreases muscle fiber damage and soreness
Creatine monohydrate could be a very useful supplement to your diet for preventing muscle fiber damage and speeding up recovery from high-intensity training, which perfectly fits into the field of sports rehabilitation. In a recent article that was published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation titled, “Role of creatine supplementation in exercise-induced muscle damage: A mini review” scientists have a discussion on the many benefits that creatine offers for increasing muscle recovery.
Creatine’s ergogenic effect has become well-known in its ability to improve physical performance such as explosive muscle power and increased lean muscle mass after a training session. A couple of studies have shown that creatine decreases muscle damage induced by resistance training.
One study showed that healthy males supplementing with creatine beginning 5 days before exercise until 2 weeks after exercise increased maximal isometric strength and decreased muscle damage markers (creatine kinase) compared to subjects who only took a carbohydrate placebo. There are some potential mechanisms that explain creatine’s effect on exercise-induced muscle fiber damage, including decreasing inflammatory response and oxidative stress.
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