Why Everyone Should Be Using Creatine, Even If You're Not An Athlete
Yep, it may come as a surprise but creatine is possibly the supplement that everyone should be taking. Many of you may already know about creatine for its benefits with regard to building mass with your workouts, but in truth the benefits of creatine are more than that. You see, creatine is something we already get in some amounts from food, and our body’s already contain. It is more like a fourth food group than a supplement, there being fats, protein, carbs, and creatine. You see, each of these groups serve purposes and they all are potential energy sources.
Protein can be converted into sugar, but ideally is used as a building block for tissues. Carbs are pure fuel, and replenish our glycogen stores. Fats are used for fuel and also for absorption and transportation of other materials in the body, and can be stored for fuel in case a famine occurs. Creatine, is directly tied to our base energy systems. The end process of creating energy in the body is the conversion of fuel into ATP (adenosine triphosphate,) which is then burned. ATP is the final form of fuel, created in the mitochondria from sugar or fats. Well, there is also CP, or creatine phosphate, which is stored in the muscle and skeletal cells for immediate use. Creatine phosphate is basically a reserve of fast acting fuel for high intensity energy output, though it is used in all forms of exertion. During exercise, you run out of creatine phosphate relatively quickly, but creatine supplementation will keep your creatine phosphate levels optimal.
The above paragraph is really just a glimpse into how creatine is involved with exercise, but it is not why I say everyone should be taking creatine. Creatine is one of the most well researched supplements on the market, having been studied for decades and consistently showing effectiveness and safety. It is very difficult to hurt yourself by taking creatine. I know you’ve probably heard the horror stories of dehyrdrated athletes with creatine to blame.
Here’s the problem: you only need 5g of creatine a day to keep your body saturated. There is virtually no benefit consuming more than 5g daily. However, many body builders and other athletes have consumed 50g of creatine or more daily. This is problematic for the same reason anything can be problematic. You can drink too much water and die from it, and creatine related injury is a similar phenomena.
Where creatine really shines is that it supports our mitochondria, which are the energy power house of the cells in our body. Supporting the mitochondria truly is supporting health, and anything that has direct benefits for the mitochondria means direct benefits to a host of body systems. Finally, creatine is cheap. Notice I recommended taking 5g a day earlier. Technically, after a loading phase, a 180lbs male would only need 2.5g a day. However, creatine is so cheap and effective, that you can really just take 5g daily, and not think about it. This way you know you are taking enough for maximum benefit.
To put it simply, creatine is safe, it is effective, it is cheap, it is easy to use, and for most people it just works. It’s one of those supplements where you will probably notice a benefit, and it is incredibly rare to experience anything negative.
Now, when it comes to buying creatine, it is inexpensive so even lower quality brands may have good quality creatine. However, as I always recommend, get your supplements from reputable brands that are of a quality that doctors and functional medicine practitioners would use. Creatine is so affordable that you can do this and still get a 3 month supply for $30 from the highest quality brands around. I recommend Thorne whenever possible, as I know they are a quality company. Their creatine is 480g for $29 on their website, which is roughly 100 days of creatine at 5g a day.
When taking creatine, the most common method of supplementation is to do a loading phase by taking 20g a day, split into 4 doses of 5g, for the first week. Then you lower your intake to at-most 5g a day. It is somewhat debated whether this loading phase is necessary, but due to the inexpensiveness of creatine, I do recommend it to get faster benefits. Make sure to increase your water intake during this time. You can also cycle off of creatine for 2 to 3 weeks every 3 months. There is no disadvantage or negative effect from continued creatine supplementation, but your body's creatine levels will remain saturated for some time after you cease supplementation. Basically, cycling off of creatine is just a way to save some money.
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