WHAT IS CREATINE?

Creatine is a peptide (short string of amino acids) that every human produces on their own.
This molecule is part of our body’s energy systems: it combines with a molecule of phosphate to form creatine phosphate, which can be broken back apart to regenerate ATP – the “energy currency” of the body.

Why supplement with Creatine?

In addition to power generation, research has shown that creatine may: 
  • Improve endurance by buffering acid accumulation in muscles.
  • Reduce injury risk (athletes that supplement with creatine get injured less).
  • Improve post-exercise recovery by accelerating glycogen replenishment and reducing inflammatory markers.
  • Improve thermoregulation.
  • Be neuroprotective (concussions and even research showing improvement in depression).
  • Improve cognitive function and focus.

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Myths Busted: Creatine

Despite creatine being one of the most well-researched supplements with tons of benefits for all athletes, there are many misconceptions about creatine.

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is creatine right for you?

You don’t need to have the goal of gaining muscle to benefit from creatine. If you want to gain muscle, it helps by increasing the amount of higher intensity exercise you can do, thereby increasing the training stimulus for muscle growth. If muscle growth isn’t your goal, though, it still helps because more, higher-quality training is useful in every major sport. And, simply put, that’s exactly what creatine as a supplement does: increases the quality and quantity of your training.

why supplement with gnarly creatine?

Natural

Excess creatine (beyond what we consume through foods like eggs, fish & red meat) is simply broken down into its constituent amino acids, just like a protein.

Easy

Use 1 serving  (~5 grams) daily for maximum benefit. Unflavored creatine is tasteless and can be added to anything.

Effective

Creatine is strongly supported by scientific research.. No other supplement has as much evidence for efficacy.
Research supports that creatine supplementation may increase strength & increase ATP. More ATP means more power.
Research supports that creatine supplementation may optimize recovery. Creatine reduces muscle damage, inflammation and soreness
Research supports that creatine supplementation may reduce injury risk. Creatine reduces musculoskeletal injuries, and helps athletes bounce back quicker from injuries.
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To load or not to load?

With creatine, you’ll often hear about the “loading phase”—a week-long phase during which you consume larger-than-normal amounts of creatine to increase muscle creatine levels faster. 

A loading phase is designed to bring our muscle levels up to their physiological maximum as rapidly as possible. It’s more than we need to maintain those increased levels, even considering the increased rate of breakdown, so we don’t need to continue taking such a high dose for more than a week (the amount of time it takes to reach maximum saturation). A loading dose is usually 300 mg/kg, or about 140 mg of creatine for every pound of bodyweight.

 

So, for a 150 pound individual, 300mg/kg is about 20.5g/day. 

The only real downside to the loading phase is cost—and it’s a minor downside considering how cheap creatine is and that you only need to do it once. Some people have made the argument that you can avoid putting on excess water weight (one of the side effects of creatine) by doing a “slow load”, but this is physiologically nonsensical: when in the muscle, creatine phosphate will always associate with water, and thus anytime creatine “works” it will cause a small amount of water weight gain. You can’t dodge it.

 

That being said, the only advantage to loading is three weeks of saved time. In the scheme of things, three weeks isn’t a lot, and it might not even be relevant depending on what your training currently looks like. So, make your own choice—there’s no wrong one.

how to supplement with gnarly creatine (Maintenance doses)

The maintenance dose is designed to keep levels at max while compensating for the increased rate of breakdown. Since the maintenance dose is still greater than our normal intake of creatine, we can skip the loading phase and use it to increase muscle creatine levels to max, but it takes much longer—usually about a month. A typical maintenance dose is 5 grams per day.

Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements with robust evidence for a plethora of benefits for athletes young and old. Despite this, there are many misconceptions about creatine.

 

But most of the concerns regarding creatine supplementation are not supported by robust scientific literature. Anyone looking to improve their high-intensity capacity and lean body mass, or vegetarian and vegan athletes, should consider taking a creatine supplement.