Creatine is an amino acid-like substance (technically a nitrogenous organic acid) that has earned a reputation over the past 3 decades as a powerful physical performance enhancer. Indeed, over 8 MILLION pounds of creatine are consumed by Americans each year. So why the popularity?...
Health Benefits: Creatine is somewhat of a fuel source for ATP- the energy system used for short bursts of power (creatine actually helps the body recycle ATP). Creatine also acts as a pH buffer in cells and tissues. As such, creatine is a potent cell volumizer that promotes muscle growth and strength, and also aids in recovery. Because of its features, creatine regularly shows up in pre-workout formulas (along with free form aminos like beta alanine and citrulline malate).
Negatives/Cautions: While most people tolerate creatine well, some do report gastric upset (bloating, gas, etc.) as well as water retention.
What to Look For: Like glutamine, creatine is most often consumed in powder form (although capsules are available). Look for a high grade, pure creatine monohydrate powder with no additives or fillers. You might also keep an eye out for Crea-Pure™, which is a highly purified, micronized form of creatine.
How to Take: Many creatine users incorporate a “loading phase” for the first 5-7 days- normally taking between 15-25g a day for the first week, and then tapering off to 3-10g a day for maintenance. Dosage amounts may be dictated by factors such as body weight (or lean mass), creatine tolerance, fitness goals, etc.