- Creatine is a well-researched supplement for muscle growth, brain health, and athletic performance.
- Most people can benefit from its use, combined with good exercise and nutrition habits, experts say.
- To maximize benefits and avoid side effects, use the right dose and type of creatine.
According to experts, adding creatine supplements to your routine is an inexpensive and safe way to increase strength and muscle gains from a sustained gym routine.
Creatine is inexpensive and has a richness of benefits for improving athletic performancemuscle growth and even brain health, the evidence suggests.
It’s not a steroid, despite persistent misconceptions, and there’s good evidence that it’s safe for most people, according to Dr. Scott Forbes, a sports nutritionist and professor at Brandon University.
“I think a lot more people could benefit from taking creatine. Most people should think about it,” he told Insider.
Extensive research suggests that creatine is safe and helps increase strength and muscle gains
Creatine is an amino acid produced naturally in the human body and stored primarily in muscle tissue to provide energy. It is also found in small amounts in foods like meat and fish.
It plays a crucial role in the chemical reactions that help fuel cells, sports nutritionist Eli Mizelman says Insider.
“The more phosphocreatine you have in your muscles, the better your body can perform in short, high-intensity anaerobic exercise, which leads to increased muscle mass and improved anaerobic fitness,” he said. declared.
It’s also one of the safest supplements available, according to Mizelman, although you should consult a doctor before using it, as it may pose health risks for people with existing kidney problems. Research suggests most people can use it long term with little risk.
Use creatine with weight training to build muscle
You don’t have to be an athlete to use creatine, but it’s best for building muscle when combined with exercise, according to Forbes.
“There are muscle performance benefits even without exercise, but they’re not as robust,” he said.
Whether you train twice a week or most days, creatine can help enhance the benefits of strength training to help you make gains faster, Forbes says.
And focusing on other healthy habits like nutrition and sleep can help you get the most out of supplements, he and other experts say.
Consistency and the right dose are key
Creatine supplementation works by increasing overall levels of creatine in muscle tissue. For it to work, you need to use it regularly, according to Forbes, although it doesn’t matter if you take creatine before, during, or after a workout.
There are two strategies for starting creatine supplementation, he said. One option is to take the recommended daily dose of five grams and expect to see benefits in about a month.
For faster results, you can take a higher dose each day – 20 grams total, divided into five-gram portions – for five to seven days. Known as creatine loading, this strategy can speed up the absorption of the supplement by the body, after which you can take the recommended daily dose. However, it may have a greater risk of side effects like digestive upset, according to Mizelman.
Buy the right kind of creatine
According to experts, not all creatine is created equal – to get the most bang for your buck, they say the best creatine to buy is a specific form called creatine monohydrate.
“It’s the most researched, the least expensive, and the available evidence suggests it’s very safe and effective,” Forbes said.
While some brands claim that other forms of creatine are better absorbed, there isn’t enough evidence to show their effectiveness over creatine monohydrate, according to research.
And some forms of creatine might have a higher likelihood of side effects, including digestive issues, according to Mizelman.