What Is Creatine and What Are the Benefits: Uses History and Creatine Types
Creatine has been around for several decades, I remember the first time I heard about creatine, I had my doubts about its effectiveness, now 30 years later, it is still probably one of the best selling supplements amongst the bodybuilding community, creatine comes in several different presentations and prices, making affordable for everyone.
Creatine can be very effective for increasing strength, adding muscle mass and increase short bursts of energy which is important for high-intensity training. In this article, I will discuss the following:
- What creatine is
- How creatine works
- Types of creatine
- Who should take creatine
The History of Creatine supplements
In 1912 A couple of Harvard Researchers Willey Glover Denis and Otto Folin discovered that taking creatine could increase muscle mass, later in 1920 more research showed that intramuscular storage of creatine could easily be increased when ingesting in higher than average amounts, further research found that creatine phosphate played an important role in the metabolization of the skeletal muscles.
In spite of creatine being discovered in the 1920's, the supplement did not really become popular until 1992 when it was found that some Olympic athletes had used creatine prior to competing in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. One of the athletes was Linford Christie who won a gold medal in the 100 meters. Sally Gunnell also won gold in the 400-meter hurdles, both athletes used creatine several weeks before competing in the Olympic's.
In the early 90's low potency creatine supplements were available, however, creatine supplements made to increase strength were not commercially available until 1993. The company that developed the first creatine supplement was EAS (Experimental Applied Sciences, the product released by them was sold under the name “Phosphagen”.
In order to benefit the most from creatine, it is recommended that users consume a high level of glycemic carbohydrates along with taking creatine, what this does is increase creatine stores in the muscles. In 2003, MuscleTech released the first creatine-carbohydrate-alpha lipoic acid supplement to further improve creatine absorption in the muscles.
How creatine works
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs in our body, it helps supply energy to all the cells in the body but primarily to the muscles, it does this is by increasing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the muscles, creatine helps increase short burst of energy during any kind of intense physical activity or training. Creatine works by quickly replenishing your reserves of ATP which supply the power to muscular contractions.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is an ergogenic “muscle building” amino acid found in animal flesh, numerous scientific studies have proven that extra creatine is ergogenic because it can help increase power during intense training, creatine has also been proven to increase performance and add more lean muscle mass.
If creatine is used over an extended period of time it can increase strength gains which equal more muscle.
Think of ATP as gasoline for our body, creatine binds to phosphate in our body to make phosphocreatine.
Types of Creatine
Creatine is like any other supplement, it will vary in solubility and effectiveness, certain creatine dissolve easier than others, which obviously the more soluble the creatine is the easier it is for the muscles to absorb it. Regardless of the type of creatine they all do the same thing:
- Increase strength and ATP levels which translates into more energy which is very effective for short bursts of energy which may be required for intense strength training and sprinting.
- Increase muscle volume which means increased muscle mass
Creatine monohydrate is probably the oldest and most well-known form of creatine available, in fact, most studies that have been performed on Creatine both past and present have involved the use of creatine monohydrate making it the most popular and least expensive form of creatine.
Micronized creatine is basically the same thing as monohydrate with the exception that it has been micronized, this means the molecules in the creatine have been made smaller, making it easier to be absorbed by the muscle, the advantage of micronized creatine is that most people don’t experience effects of bloating or stomach discomfort which can be caused by monohydrate creatine.
Effervescent creatine is one that has been mixed with sugar and sodium to make it fizzle like Alka-Seltzer some say it improves absorption and that it tastes better.
Is probably one of the most controversial types of creatine available, some users claim it is the best creatine on the market while others say it offers no results whatsoever, basically creatine serum is regular creatine which has been dissolved in water, users who did say their results were good using creatine serum said that the results from monohydrate were much better.
The above are some of the more popular creatine, but there are many other varieties that include creatine Orate and Creatine cocktails “usually mixed with amino acids”.
Who should use creatine?
Anyone who is looking to gain muscle, increase strength and improve training intensity creatine is a must have, as far as what kind of creatine, for the average person monohydrate is probably the best, it’s the cheapest and is just as effective as the others, the only downside is that it can cause bloating and water retention.
If you are currently in a bulking cycle this should not be an issue, however for those who are going through a cutting cycle you may want to consider a micronized creatine because it will cause less bloating and water retention.
Creatine is something that has and will be around for many years it has been scientifically proven to work and is available in abundance, it's just a matter of choosing what you think will work best for you, what we do know is that several studies have proven that it is safe for prolonged use and does have an impact on increasing strength and muscle size.