Creatine has become an extremely popular supplement for athletes as an effective way to enhance performance. Because of its promise and popularity, creatine monohydrate has also become one of the most studied performance enhancing supplements available. The general recommendation is that athletes take 5-10g of creatine a day, spacing it as 5g prior to working out and 5g after working out.
So what is creatine?
Creatine is a non-essential (meaning naturally produced in the body) compound that is found mostly in skeletal muscle. While discovered in the 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the Soviets reported a link between supplementation and athletic performance. When discovered in the 1800s, it was as a component of meat. Creatine is found naturally in an omnivore’s diet but can also be enhanced via supplementation. Furthermore, thankfully for the vegetarians among us, creatine is made by the body via L-arginine, glycine and L-methionine.
What does creatine do?
Via the phosphocreatine system in your body’s biology, creatine helps to synthesize ATP to meet the increased energy demands of working out. ATP is basically the energy source muscles use during work-outs. Taking creatine supplements increases the creatine phosphate level needed to replenish the ATP used while exercising. Numerous studies have shown the positive benefits of using creatine supplements in building muscle, endurance, etc. It is one of the more researched supplements simply because it is so popular.
How to choose which creatine to use
Creatine monohydrate is by far the most popular and well studied type of creatine. Other types exist (creatine ethyl ester, creatine HCL, etc) and most creatine supplements are a blend, though you can buy the pure form if you end up preferring one over the other. I have a few favorites that I bounce between depending on my economic status at the time as well as what might be promoted:
My recommendation would be to check out the above items’ ingredients, along with prices and supplements you may be taking already for overlap, etc. Review your choice with your physician for any “watch outs” as they could also tell if there might be any issues with medication you might be taking, etc. and go from there.
For more information about studies including creatine monohydrate, click here.