What is Creatine?
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?...
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).
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 to 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.