Creatine is one of the best-known supplements that are part of the diet to increase performance in high-intensity exercises.
Some scientific reports have determined that consuming creatine also increases strength and muscle mass.
Although taking creatine is safe and effective, there seems to be confusion about when is the best time to take it.
This article shows you what you should know about this product aimed at the diet of athletes.
Creatine in general terms is a nitrogenous organic acid, which is applied as a dietary supplement and is produced industrially.
It is the synthesis of a monohydrate that is aimed at increasing the performance, energy, and capacity of an individual when doing sports.
It began to be synthesized in the 1900s and was applied for the first time in athletes representing the 1966 Olympic Games. (1)
Note: It is a natural substance found in concentrations of approximately 25 millimoles per kg of body weight in muscle tissue.
Its intake highlights the muscular results, which is why it is widely used in individuals who practice bodybuilding as a sport and also increases and improves sports performance.
Creatine is a molecule found in our cells, although it is also a dietary supplement that has been extensively studied.
There are different types of cretin, but the monohydrate is the one that prevails in consumption mainly due to its natural synthesis.
It has good intestinal assimilation and muscular absorption, raising the natural deposits of the muscles to their maximum capacity.
To highlight: The principle of action of this organic acid focuses on a higher yield of myocellular ATPases, increasing the resynthesis of PCR, and reducing the accumulation of Pi, Ca2 +, H +, and ADP.
Therefore, there is greater availability of amino acids, inhibition of glycolysis, and a possible increase in neuromuscular performance.
All this leads to an increase in the expression of proteins that intervene in these processes of physical effort, which allows greater energy bioavailability and resistance mechanisms. (2)
Consuming creatine influences the level of concentration in the body’s cells, thus giving rise to many benefits and effects of creatine on the health and physical performance of the body through its use.
These benefits include improved performance in load-bearing exercises and muscle fitness, as well as some neurological benefits, such as the ability to improve mental performance in older people.
Below we mention what are the main benefits of using creatine as a supplement for our body:
Although creatine does not increase or influence the synthesis or degradation of muscle proteins, it has been proven through research that it can improve part of the muscle adaptive response to training, which is due to the important role of the effect of an increase in muscle fat-free mass, strength and also myofibrillar protein.
According to the research carried out to increase body and muscle mass, it has been determined that regardless of the dose of supplementation and type of treatment applied, the increase in this will only be between values of 1 and 2.3%.
To highlight: The main weight gain is in water due to its principle of action where there is a reduction in urinary excretion and therefore, an increase in amounts of intracellular water. (3)
Studies have shown that the effects of creatine supplementation include that they can thus increase the strength obtained from a weight training program by around 5-10%, on average.
These performance-based benefits are likely based on a marked increase in muscle strength and endurance.
Therefore, it allows the application of quite demanding series and quite short recovery times, thus obtaining energy of the anaerobic type.
There are also studies focused on the muscular performance of people of advanced ages, obtaining satisfactory results with the consumption of this substance, although it highlights that they work as long as there is no absence of carrying out some type of physical activity. (4)
Note: The exact dose required for brain creatine enhancement is unknown, but amounts commonly applied to athletes and their activities have been effective in increasing brain creatine in some studies.
Creatine supplements usually come in tablet, powder, or solution form. There is no standardized dose yet, but a protocol for applying high amounts in the short term and low amounts in long-term protocols is recognized.
Those doses are in values of 20 grams per day for 5 days, and 3 to 5 grams per day for periods of one month.
There is research showing that the consumption of supplements in conjunction with insulinogenic nutrients such as carbohydrates and combinations of carbohydrates and proteins, allows the improvement of creatine uptake by the action of the muscle since this process is mediated through insulin. (5)
Note: The increase in body weight that occurs in the first days of consumption of these supplements, exists due to the increase in the amount of water in the muscles and not to an increase in muscle mass. (6)
On exercise days, there are three main options for when to take creatine. You can take it shortly before exercising, shortly after exercising, or at some other time when you are not close to exercising. Another option is to divide your daily dose and take it throughout the day.
The adverse effects that occur when consuming creatine, are in part when it is done in excessive amounts and without any prior evaluation by a professional.
There are even individuals who consume it to avoid the feeling of fatigue, which is not recommended. Among these effects, the following can be highlighted (7):
The appearance of muscle cramps, due to the muscular electrolyte imbalance that can occur in the body.
Gastrointestinal disorders due to long-term excessive consumption and poor dilution before ingestion. They can be defined as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Negative effects on kidney function in people with a history, although the disorders usually disappear after stopping the intake of creatine.
Disrupted liver functions influencing the enzymatic controls of the liver by altering certain levels.