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Should all bodybuilders take a Creatine supplement?

Creatine is an amino acid which is naturally present in the body’s muscles as well as the brain. As it is an important component in building muscle and for enhancing energy levels many bodybuilders take a creatine supplement in order to build muscle and to improve workout performance.

Let’s take a further look at creatine to find out more about this amino acid.

First up, what are amino acids?

Amino acids are the molecules present in protein so are considered the building blocks of life for everything living on the planet. In humans, some amino acids are only obtainable by diet and are called essential amino acids. Other amino acids are manufactured by the body as well as obtainable by eating foods which are high in protein. All amino acids perform different functions in the body so a good diet with plenty of protein is essential for general health.

Creatine is manufactured by your kidneys, liver and pancreas where it makes around 1 g of creatine a day. It is also obtainable by diet from foods including fish, milk and red meat. We obtain 95% of the creatine we need via a normal omnivorous diet but if you are vegetarian you should probably consider taking a supplement.

Creatine is stored in the muscles as phosphocreatine where it is there to provide energy when you need it. A healthy mixed diet is important for health and this way your body can obtain the amino acids from the protein you eat. However if you are trying to build muscle and to boost athletic performance a creatine supplement can help.

What does creatine do?

Creatine is a natural source of energy for muscle contractions. It is stored in the skeletal muscle until you need to use it during physical activity. It helps deliver a constant supply of energy to your working muscles by increasing the body’s production as you need it.

Taking a creatine supplement can help with providing energy when you need it such as for a quick burst of speed or going the extra mile on gym machinery. Because creatine provides you with additional strength and short bursts of energy it helps improve performance. That said it will not improve endurance. Improving your aerobic endurance comes from improving general levels of fitness so it is important to see Creatine as a useful tool rather than a fix all solution.

Creatine is important for numerous purposes in the body. Taking a creatine supplement may help improve bone density caused by aging. It is sometimes used as a brain supplement to delay mental decline and boost cognition. It can help prevent injury due to muscle cramps and injuries to nerve endings.

Why is a creatine supplement so effective for bodybuilding?

When you are trying to build muscle, a creatine supplement can increase your levels of creatine which would be unobtainable by diet alone.

Taking a creatine supplement will enable an athlete to work out harder and for longer leading to greater gains and increased muscle mass.

Creatine helps improve recovery levels.

Creatine is also helpful in improving recovery levels. It helps prevent against muscle cramps and strains to the nerve endings. In addition, it can help reduce the severity of any injuries you may suffer during training.

If you are undertaking an intensive body-building regime, a creatine supplement may help you tolerate a punishing workload which will help you achieve your muscle gains more effectively.

Is Creatine a banned substance?

Creatine is perfectly legal to take. Many athletes use it and it will not cause any issues around drug testing. This substance is allowed by all the regulatory sports authorities around the world.

How much creatine should you take?

Many bodybuilders advise taking 20g of creatine daily for the first five days of use in order to rapidly accelerate the creatine stores in your muscles. Taking creatine at this level should increase muscle creatine content by between 30% – 45%. This loading phase should be enough to get you started.

After this you should reduce this to a lower maintenance dose of around 2g to 5g daily.

An alternative way of taking creatine is to miss out on the loading stage and go straight to taking 3 g every day. This slowly builds up your muscle’s creatine supply in around three weeks.

Omitting the loading stage is easier on the body. It minimizes the risk of side effects such as nausea and diarrhea and comes with less risk of dehydration.

If you are loading with creatine, spreading the dose out to four times a day is probably easier than taking the daily dose of creatine in one serving.

In conclusion…

Creatine is an important amino acid that is produced by the body and is also obtainable by diet in the form of red meat, fish and milk. It is an essential component of the body’s muscle building and energy levels and if you are a nonathlete with a mixed diet, you don’t really need to consider it.

However, if you want to build muscle and maintain your fitness levels, creatine boosts performance and eases recovery. Safe and well tolerated, creatine should definitely be on the shopping list for any athlete or bodybuilder trying to achieve the best results.

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