You have probably heard of creatine and its relationship with physical exercise and hard training in sports. Indeed, in recent years this compound has become one of the most popular dietary supplements, especially among those who want to increase their physical performance and build muscle mass. But what is creatine and what are its functions.
What is creatine and what is it for?
Creatine is a natural chemical compound that our body is capable of metabolizing through the joint action of certain amino acids, being responsible for synthesizing it by vital organs such as the liver, pancreas and kidneys. Our own body generates a minimal amount of creatine, which is stored mainly in the muscle and brain tissues. That amount is insufficient for the development of our vital functions, so we obtain what we lack through the intake of foods that can provide it, which are mainly meat and fish.
In addition, creatine can also be taken in supplements or food supplements that can be of great help in certain circumstances, such as deficiency states derived from some pathology, and in cases in which extra doses may be necessary, especially when performing an activity. intense sports.
In general, the benefits of creatine in relation to physical exercise are sufficiently contrasted, especially in sports activities that involve explosive or high-intensity exercises that require great effort in a short period of time and, therefore, generate a high demand for Energy. In this sense, creatine supplements provide benefits in sports, but, in addition to sports, creatine can provide other benefits, many of them still pending studies to confirm them.
Benefits of creatine for exercise
- Increased physical performance.
- Increased strength and resistance to exercise.
- Greater development of muscle fibers and, therefore, of the whole muscle mass.
- Less recovery time after training.
Health benefits of creatine
- Improves brain function in those cases where there are dysfunctions that prevent the formation of creatine at the correct levels. It could be an effective aid in curbing cognitive decline and associated diseases.
- Prevents and improves sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass associated with aging).
- Reduces fatigue and helps in recovery from muscle injuries.
- It could help in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
When and how to take creatine
As we have indicated, the intake of food in a varied and balanced diet provides the creatine that the body needs naturally. When taking creatine supplements, it is always advisable to consult a doctor or nutritionist in advance, to establish its suitability and the appropriate doses.
In general, creatine may be advisable when doing hard training or demanding physical tests. The ideal is to divide your intake into at least 2 shots a day . A good guideline would be, for example, a drink at breakfast (to have extra energy) and another after training, to favor an optimal recovery after the effort, although it must be insisted that each athlete (and each person) will have some specific needs that will make creatine intake advisable at a specific time. The important thing to remember is that this supplement should be taken with plenty of fluids ; water, juices, infusions, energy drinks… so that it really promotes muscle development, avoiding dehydration.
Regarding the recommended dose, it will also depend on the characteristics, the physical form and the activity that each person develops, although the general guideline is between 2 – 3 grams/day for a healthy adult who begins taking this supplement . It is important to remember that continuous intake of creatine should not last more than a month. After this time, the body needs a more or less prolonged ‘rest' before taking it again.
In these other articles you can learn more details about How and when to take creatine and How to take creatine to increase muscle mass .
Creatine side effects
With the necessary prior medical advice and taken in the correct doses, creatine does not have to cause severe negative effects in people who do not have pathologies that should be taken into account. Even so, in certain cases its intake could trigger or aggravate digestive problems, muscle discomfort , such as cramps, or trigger weight gain , mainly if it is not ingested with sufficient amounts of liquids.
In addition, in certain circumstances, such as in the case of pregnant women or if there are diseases such as kidney disease or diabetes, prior medical consultation is essential to avoid possible adverse effects.