Creatine is widely hailed as one the most popular sports supplements. Its popularity for mass gain is unparalleled and there are many good reasons for that. Athletes resort to Creatine for enhancing their performance. The wonder material has been recognized by the European health regulator EFSA for offering enhanced physical performance under defined circumstances.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance which turns into Creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine phosphate further helps in creating adenosine triphosphate or ATP, which offers instant energy for muscle contraction. Creatine is mainly obtained from various food items, rich in protein.
Creatine is considered safe when taken in moderate amounts. Here is how Creatine helps your body and lets you perform better.
1. Increases Muscle Strength
Various studies have shown that Creatine helps in providing bursts of strength during short-term intensive workout. A University of Queensland study showed that competitive power-lifters benefit from taking Creatine as it helps them to increase the number of reps they can perform. The average increase in the number of reps stood at about 15 percent.
Another study conducted by the University of Nebraska showed that Creatine intake helped collegiate football players on an 8 week weight training program increase their one rep bench press strength by 6 percent.
Such muscle strength is especially useful in sports which require short term energy burst such as weightlifting. Optimal use of Creatine can help athletes in giving their best performance.
2. Helps Muscle Growth
Creatine not only provides extra strength to the muscles but can also help in growing muscles. Ingestion of Creatine helps in boosting lean body weight. Depending on your body type, the increase in lean body weight may be as much as 11 pounds in a mere four weeks.
Creatine supplement is considered ideal for athletes as it does not increase organ mass or bone mass.
3. Creatine for Better Athletic Performance
Since Creatine offers bursts of energy, it is a popular sports supplement. Creatine is used by professional and amateur athletes alike. Various sports where the use of Creatine may lead to better performance are swimming, rowing, sprinting, cycling and kayaking. It is also useful for soccer and weightlifting.
4. Muscle Cell Volumization
One of the way Creatine works is to boost muscle cell volume. Since Creatine is a type of protein, it helps in drawing water from the blood and uses that water to fill up muscle cells employing the process of osmosis. Such increase in cell volume leads to stretching of cell membranes, which is conducive for muscle growth as it helps in better protein synthesis.
Creatine also helps athletes in recovering faster. It helps in increasing the number of reps as well. Increase in the number of reps leads to better muscle growth.
5. Enhances Satellite Cells
Muscles grow bigger by adding muscle satellite cells to its existing muscle fibers. Satellite cells are also known as muscle stem cells. A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen athletes undergoing a weight training program reported an almost 100 percent increase in their satellite cells in muscle fibers with the use of Creatine. This helps in higher muscle power and better muscle strength.
6. Growth Factor Insulin IGF and lower Myostatin Levels
Creatine helps in boosting muscle strength in a wide variety of ways. Apart from the ways mentioned above, Creatine also helps in increasing the quantity of insulin like growth factor-1. This is also known as IGF-I, which is important for enhancing muscle strength and muscle growth. The fact was proved by a study conducted by St. Francis Xavier University in Canada. IGF-I is an important way to increase muscle growth.
Creatine also works by lowering Myostatin levels in the body. Myostatins is a type of protein which inhibits muscle growth. According to a study conducted by Arak University in Iran, Creatine, in conjunction with weightlifting program, may help in a significant decrease in the levels of Myostatin, boosting the process of muscle growth.
[ Read: How To Eat Like a Body Builder ]
Creatine Health Benefits
Creatine is helpful for athletes. It not only helps in muscle growth but also has several other benefits as well. Apart from muscles, Creatine is known for boosting brain and nervous system performance as well. It improves cognitive function and helps stave off the onset of Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Creatine is also useful in treating depression.
Creatine also aids cardiovascular processes. This protein like substance improves the health of people suffering from congestive heart failure. It also helps in regulating the levels of cholesterol in the body. Various studies have shown the positive impact of Creatine in maintaining cholesterol level in the human body. If Creatine is taken along with a multivitamin supplement then it can help in regulating homocysteine levels. Homocysteineis an amino acid which is closely linked to the incidences of heart diseases.
While Creatine is generally beneficial to the body and its regulated intake may help athletes, but there are certain side effects associated with it as well. In some cases, Creatine may cause kidney ailments, including kidney failure. In other cases, it may lead to nausea, water retention and muscle pain. Several other side effects associated with Creatine include cramping and diarrhea.
Ingesting Creatine with stimulants such as caffeine may lead to various cardiovascular issues. Also, the long term impacts of Creatine on the human body are not fully known. Therefore, it is important to take Creatine only after proper deliberation and expert opinion.