Is Taking Creatine Monohydrate Beneficial? Here’s What You Need To Know
If you’ve ever set foot in the gym, chances are, you’ve probably heard guys touting the muscle-building benefits of creatine monohydrate. Or, even seen them gulping down creatine by the mouthfuls. And given how delicious some of these creatine shakes can smell, you’re likely thinking about experimenting with it yourself. So, here’s the question: should you? Well, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes.’ Want to find out why? Continue reading. Here’s what you should know about taking creatine monohydrate: what it is, its benefits, and perhaps most importantly, its safety.
What is creatine? What does creatine do?
This might surprise you, but your body produces creatine naturally from the dietary protein you consume. More specifically, from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. Creatine stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine, which is then generated into adenosine triphosphate (ATP): your body’s main source of energy. Confused? Don’t worry. You can simply think of creatine as a fundamental component in how your body creates its primary form of energy (1). OK, so creatine is all accounted for. What about creatine monohydrate? As is suggested by its name, creatine monohydrate is simply creatine with one molecule of water attached to it.
What are the benefits of using creatine monohydrate?
Technically speaking, the more creatine your body has, the more energy (ATP) you’ll have. But what good does that do specifically? Let’s take a look:
Increases muscle strength
If you’ve been unable to push the weight up for your 1 rep max on the deadlift (or any other exercise), creatine supplementation is the way to go. Why? Because an overwhelming amount of research indicates that creatine monohydrate is highly effective at producing strength gains (2, 3, 4, 5).
Remember how creatine enhances your body’s ability to rapidly generate energy? Well, this then helps enhance the quality of your workout sessions–you’d be able to do a few more reps with a heavier weight, for example. And that, over time, leads to strength gains.
Boosts lean muscle mass
Most of the supplements that promise ‘quick muscle mass gains’ are unable to deliver on their promise. Thankfully, though, this doesn’t apply to creatine monohydrate. In fact, it delivers–both in the short- and long-term:
• Short-term – Creatine draws water into your muscle cells; when your muscles hold more water, they look bigger and more pumped up (6, 7). Think about it: that’s instant gains!
• Long-term – Because you’re going to be able to manage heavier loads in a given repetition range, this generates more stress (mechanical tension) on your muscles, which is a primary driving factor for muscle growth (8, 9, 10).
Not to mention, creatine can also raise levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone that promotes hypertrophy (11).
Enhances athletic performance
If you’ve read thus far, this benefit of creatine monohydrate probably requires no explanation. Creatine’s key role in energy production means it can drastically improve your body’s capacity to perform high-intensity work (12, 13, 14). In other words, it prevents your muscles from prematurely fatiguing.
That means you'll be able to pump out more reps, sprint at a faster rate, or engage more forcefully in whatever sport or exercise you take part in. Score!
Anyone who’s been through a heavy legs day knows the difficulties in even crawling out of bed the next morning. And you’re likely no different. If you’d like to reduce the number of days you spend waiting for the muscle soreness to pass, creatine monohydrate supplementation is a godsend.
That’s because research shows that creatine supplementation helps improve the muscle recovery process (15).
While the mechanics through which creatine achieves this is still unclear, it’s speculated that it helps reduce muscle damage during the workout session. And you know what comes with less muscle damage: yes, less soreness (DOMS)!
Boasts the best safety record
With all the benefits that creatine monohydrate supplementation brings, one might be tempted to ask, ‘Well, how can a supplement be all-good for you?’ There must be something wrong with it, right?
No. Not at all.
Many studies have shown–over and over again–that creatine monohydrate is very safe to consume (16, 17, 18, 19, 20). Even if you consume it over a long period. And even if you take it at slightly higher doses (e.g. 30 grams, instead of the typical daily dose of 3 - 5 grams.)
Bottom line: creatine monohydrate has not been shown to cause balding or damage to the liver, kidneys, or any other organs for that matter. All it does is increase strength, boost lean muscle mass, enhance performance, and promote recovery. Now, who wouldn’t want that?
So, what are you waiting for? Buy that bottle of creatine monohydrate now–and make sure you only purchase from a reputable brand (ahem, Nutratech: NZ’s leading supplement manufacturer!)