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Creatine: the VERY basics

23 Sep

The creatine molecule

So I’ve been going to the gym for years now and taking protein shakes. I’ve seen creatine on the shelves of health shops like Holland & Barratt and GNC, but never really looked into what it does, or what it is used for.

So after a little research, here is what I know.

Creatine is an amino acid which helps build muscle and is used to power high intensity muscle contractions. It’s widely taken as a supplement in the form of powders and capsules, but it is also present in red meats and produced by the body’s major organs.

In practical terms creatine helps you push heavier weights and complete more reps, thus building muscle mass. It also helps you complete intense aerobic exercises, such as sprinting, rowing and cycling.

Depending on the brand and type of creatine you take, dosages will vary. However it’s important not to go over the RDA, as creatine can put stress on the kidneys and as such people with medical conditions that could be effected by this should consult their doctor before using the creatine.

Once you’ve decided to take creatine it’s important to look at any other sports nutrition supplements you take, to ensure they don’t contain any creatine as this will count toward your RDA.

There are a few different types of creatine, with the most common being creatine monohydrate.  For more information on the different types of creatine and their benefits visit Best Creatine Supplement Review.

For now I’m going to continue to discuss creatine monohydrate as this is the most commonly available and seems to be the entry level form of creatine supplement from my review of supplement forums. There are two phases to taking creatine monohydrate, the loading phase, which is followed by the maintainance phase. The first phase consists of taking creatine up to four times a day to saturate your muscles. In the second phase you simply top up your creatine levels with 1 -2 scoops a day. Though you should always read the directions on the label as different products will vary. has more information on creatine loading by body weight.

Always remember to stay hydrated as creatine will direct water away from major organs and into muscles. If taken without water, creatine use can lead to stomach cramps. A good rule of thumb is to drink a pint of water with each dose.

Hope this helps,

Good luck and good health,

Ni, the Supplementer