introduction

Creatine is a non-essential organic acid that is made from three amino acids to a limited extent in the liver and kidneys. In addition, creatine can be obtained from meat and fish or pure creatine as a dietary supplement.

Creatine is elementary for the energy production of the skeletal muscles and improves the muscle metabolism with a good creatine supply, leads to an increase in performance during short-term and intensive loads and improves the build-up of strength. Therefore, creatine is the most popular dietary supplement among athletes.

You might also be interested in this: Supplements for building muscle

When should you take creatine - before, during or after exercise?

The time at which creatine is taken plays a subordinate role.
Different scientific studies make different recommendations. The fact is, however, that creatine is not consumed directly by the body, but is stored in the muscles regardless of when it is taken. Creatine is only consumed when new ATP is needed quickly as fuel for the energy.
It is therefore not important when you take the creatine, but that you take it every day without gaps. This also means that you take creatine on the days when you take a break from training. Creatine is best absorbed by the body when taken on an empty stomach - two hours before or after eating.

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Also read: Creatine for muscle building

How long should you take creatine?

Creatine is one of the harmless food supplements. This means that long-term or permanent use is possible. However, study results showed that even short-term use has been shown to improve performance.

Vegetarians in particular benefit from long-term intake. New studies are investigating whether long-term use may prevent neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease, of the Huntington's Disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis can protect. However, clear results are not yet available.

It is important that the body, in particular the kidneys, is always given a recovery phase in which no creatine is absorbed. If the creatine is taken as part of strength training, you should also take a 4-week break after two to three months so that the physical structures such as muscles, ligaments and tendons adapt to the increased strength level.

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In what form can or should creatine be taken?

The supplement (dietary supplement) creatine is available in many different forms, for example as Creatine powder, Creatine capsules or tablets. Which variant you choose does not matter for its effectiveness. What you should pay attention to, however, is the composition of the preparation.

The following applies: The purer the preparation and the fewer additives, the more effective the preparation is in terms of building muscle and increasing performance.

Experts recommend preparations that contain at least 99% pure creatine monohydrate. If other substances are added to the creatine monohydrate, this can influence the effect. There is a variety of combination preparations, such as Creatine citrate (creatine bound to citric acid) or Creatine nitrate, which should have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. However, this has not yet been scientifically proven. Experts recommend that before buying a preparation you check whether it is on the Cologne list. This only lists food supplements that have been tested for doping substances and where there is a significantly reduced risk of doping.

More information can be found here:

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  • Creatine monohydrate
  • How useful is creatine?

What's the dosage?

Creatine is naturally found in human muscles. These are average about four grams of creatine per kilogram of muscle mass. Vegetarians or vegans have significantly less creatine, because their diet means they do not consume the largest source of creatine, namely meat. According to the results of the study, the best results are achieved when about three to five grams of high-quality creatine is consumed per day.

However, you should absolutely follow the package insert and consult a pharmacist or doctor if you have any doubts. It is important to know that creatine stores are limited. The size of the memory is dependent on the existing muscle mass. Nevertheless, if more creatine is consumed than the body can use, the body excretes the excess creatine again.

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In addition, in some people too high a dose leads to:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Flatulence
  • nausea
  • Vomit

The dose should therefore always be kept as low as possible. So if you already see improvements with three grams of creatine daily, you should not increase the dose. In addition, about 20% of the population do not react to creatine intake. One speaks of Non-responders. Your creatine stores are already so full through your diet that the additional creatine intake has no effect.

Read more about this: Side effects of creatine

The creatine regimen

A creatine cure is the cyclical intake of the dietary supplement. The cure consists of three different phases.

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  • You start with the so-called loading phase of a week. During this time you take four times the normal daily dose. This corresponds approximately to an amount of 20 grams. In order to avoid intolerance such as stomach pain or nausea, you should not take the entire amount, but always 3-5 grams at intervals of three hours.
  • After this loading phase, the so-called maintenance dose follows. This should three to four weeks take a long time. During this time, the normal daily dose of 3-5 grams is consumed.
  • This is followed by a break in taking. This is important to empty the creatine stores. If you skip this break, the kidneys can no longer absorb creatine and simply excrete it again. Thus taking creatine would be ineffective during this time. How long this break should be can be found in the instructions on the package for the product. Some preparations suggest a break of one week, others recommend that the break be as long as the previous intake phase was.

The advantage of a creatine cure is that the creatine stores grow in a very short time and the maximum strength of the muscles is increased. In addition, the muscles' ability to regenerate improves, so that training is intensified.

However, the creatine diet also has disadvantages such as Bad breath, Flatulence or cramps. Experts therefore recommend using the creatine regimen only if you want to take creatine for a short time.

More information on this topic: Creatine cure

What else should you watch out for when taking it?

Taking creatine as a dietary supplement is relatively harmless - according to the current state of science, there are no clinically relevant side effects. Nevertheless, the package insert should always be read carefully and kept.
If the dosage is too high, stomach cramps, gas, nausea and vomiting can occur. Therefore the dose should be chosen as low as possible.

Basically you should take creatine with plenty of water, at least 300 ml. A lot of fluids should also be consumed throughout the day, as creatine binds them. Long-term creatine intake can lead to a magnesium deficiency and cramps. In this case, magnesium should also be taken in consultation with a doctor.
Until recently, the recommendation was still valid that one should take creatine with sugary juices, as this stimulates the release of insulin and the creatine can be better absorbed. This recommendation was rejected. The same applies to the assumption that creatine is better absorbed if it is taken with short-chain carbohydrates.

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It is also important to know that the intake of creatine leads to an inevitable increase in body weight. This is justified with the storage of water. Athletes who are divided into weight classes must take this weight gain into account. In addition, the increased water retention in the muscle cells leads to high pressure in the cells. This increases the risk of injury.

It is imperative that people with kidney disease discuss the intake of creatine with a doctor, as creatine is processed by the kidneys. If, due to an illness or disorder, they cannot convert creatine sufficiently, kidney damage can occur.

Summary

Creatine is one of the most popular nutritional supplements among athletes to improve performance and muscle building. For this, athletes should take 3-5 grams of creatine daily - the form of presentation and the time of intake are irrelevant.
Side effects usually only occur in the event of an overdose or previous illnesses and are manageable. Nevertheless, creatine should be taken in the lowest possible dose and regular breaks should be taken to empty the creatine stores and relieve the kidneys.

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