Creatine is one of the most popular supplements used worldwide by bodybuilders and athletes for sports purposes. Due to its incredible and quick results, some people use too much of it. Is this a safe practice?
There are various types of creatine supplements, including creatine monohydrate. Athletes and bodybuilders use this supplement for energy production especially, during high-intensity exercise. Before you take too much of this supplement, it would help to know that factors like the intensity of exercise, meat intake, hormonal level of testosterone, and amount of your muscle mass determine how your body stores creatine. While creatine offers amazing health benefits and improved physical performance, too much of it may not be better. This article will help you see how creatine can benefit your health, side effects, and dosage.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine naturally exists in your body. It is produced by three organs, kidney, liver, and pancreas. It constitutes of three amino acids, that is, arginine, glycine, and methionine. According to the National Health Institutes, within 24 hours your body makes an average of 1-2 g of creatine, which is then stored in the skeletal muscles primarily as phosphocreatine. You can also obtain creatine from your dietary intake of foods such as chicken, beef, pork, and fish. It is estimated that about 1-2 g of creatine can be obtained from an omnivorous diet. As for the vegans who primarily depend on plant-based foods, they have lower levels of creatine stored in their skeletal muscles. Additionally, creatine can be found in supplement form and the best and most available one is creatine monohydrate.
How Can Creatine Benefit Your Health?
Frankly speaking, creatine gained its popularity due to its ability to promote, support, and improve athletic performance. That said, researchers indicate that the benefits of creatine go beyond the borders of enhancing physical performance. It may promote healthy aging and improve your brain health.
Improving Athletic Performance
Creatine is stored in your skeletal muscles in the form of energy called phosphocreatine. It is phosphocreatine that that stimulates your cells to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). When you need energy during heavy lifting, ATP which is energy in the real sense, is produced in abundance. This helps you exercise more, increasing your muscle mass, strength, and power. Studies suggest that supplementing with creatine can help increase your power and strength by up to 15 percent.
Promotes Healthy Aging
Who wouldn’t like to grow old healthily? Old age may be humiliating and debilitating. However, supplementing with creatine may help keep your bones strong and muscles healthy as you age, according to published studies. One small study indicated that people above 50 years supplementing with 10 mg/kg of creatine and 30 mg/kg of protein have a lower risk of bone breakdown more than those who don’t. If taken alongside resistance training, creatine may improve muscle mass and strength, something that helps old individuals remain healthy.
Supports Brain Health
The National Institutes of Health states that taking creatine supplements increases creatine levels by up to 10 percent in your brain, which helps support brain health. Just like any other part of your body, your brain needs a constant supply of energy, in fact, more than any other organ. Taking creatine supplements offers protection to brain cells and increases energy supply to your brain, which enhances its function and health. Fatiguability that comes with undertaking menial jobs may be reduced by supplementing with creatine. It may also increase intelligence and improve short-term memory.
How Much Creatine Can I Take?
Creatine supplement is usually available in the form of powder. Conventionally, people mix this powder with water or juice and take it pre or post-workouts. Whichever time fits you better, you can take a creatine supplement in either of the following two ways.
Creatine Loading Dose
The best and recommended way to take creatine supplements is through the standard way called creatine loading. Published studies indicate that creatine loading is all about taking about 20-25 g of creatine which is divided into 4-5 equal doses to accommodate five days. This is followed by taking 3-5 g of creatine every day (this is equivalent to 30 mg/kg) to help maintain the stored creatine in your muscles. Loading dose of creatine is meant to flood your cells with creatine as quick as possible so that you can fully benefit from its effects. To experience the benefits of creatine optimally, you, therefore, must saturate or flood the muscles with it, something that lasts for about five to seven days.
This is another alternative method of taking creatine supplements. It involves skipping the creatine loading phase and taking the maintenance dose of 3-5 g of creatine per day. While there is no great difference between this method and the loading dose, it will take you longer to experience the benefits of creatine. Typically, it will take you up to 28 days to see these benefits. However, taking creatine in the maintenance dose is cheaper as it only requires you to take one dose (30 mg/kg) per day instead of 4-5 divided doses.
Is It Bad To Take Too Much Creatine?
Definitely, yes. Too much of anything is bad. Several studies have proven supplementing with creatine safe. If taken in excess, it may result in some minor discomforts.
You will gain weight significantly during the loading phase which is as a result of increase in shifting of water into your muscles and muscle mass. While it is okay, such an increase in body weight can cause bloating. Some people don’t experience bloating even with loading dose, but it would help to skip this phase and opt for the maintenance dose.
Pumping excess creatine at one time can cause stomach upset including diarrhea and belching. Ensure that you divide your creatine into 4-5 equal doses spread throughout the day if you want to take the loading dose.
Creatine is a safe supplement that can help athletes and bodybuilders improve their performance. It can also promote healthy aging and improve brain health. However, taking too much of creatine, is not better as it can cause bloating and stomach upset.