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Creatine FAQ

Q. What is it?

A. Creatine is an organic acid found naturally in the skeletal muscle of humans and plays an important role in the production of energy within the body. It also exists in several foods we eat including fish and beef.

Creatine is produced in the kidneys and liver and is made from a combination of non-essential amino acids: l-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine, this means we DON’T have to consume creatine to have it in our bodies.

The body converts creatine into something called phosphocreatine (also known as creatine phosphate), which is a form of stored energy within the muscle.

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Q. How does it work?

A. Creatine works by increasing the stores of creatine phosphate within our muscles. When traditional sources of energy are depleted, creatine phosphate can give up (donate) its phosphate molecule to provide immediate energy.

As your traditional energy sources become increasingly depleted during physical activity, performance will suffer and your muscles will fatigue. With higher levels of creatine phosphate, you can overcome this type of fatigue. In this way creatine can help improve performance (and has also been shown to increase strength and power).

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Q. How safe is creatine?

A. Since creatine as a supplement is (relatively) new, it is hard to determine whether or not there will be long term (think 40 years down the road) health effects from associated with using creatine.

However, at this point there hasn’t been one credible study documenting any dangerous or unhealthy side effects associated with regular creatine use.

After almost 20 years with no notable negative effects, we can start to accept creatine as a safe health supplement.

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Q. Can women take creatine?

A. Absolutely! Creatine is by no means a male-only product.

One concern with women is that they don’t want to “bulk up” with muscle. It’s easy to understand where this misconception comes from, many women see their male counterparts taking creatine to add muscle mass and are fearful that it will do the same to them.

The truth is, “bulking up” is a result of heavy weight lifting, massive amounts of food, and aided by the male sex hormone, testosterone. Three things the majority of women can’t relate to.

Creatine is fantastic for any women looking to increase endurance, help with moderate strength gains, and increase lean muscle.

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Q. How can I get creatine naturally?

A. Creatine can be obtained directly from some of the foods we eat like beef and fish (roughly 50% of most people’s stores of creatine comes from food). Through digestion, the creatine contained within these meats is released directly into the blood stream and further transported to the body’s skeletal muscle.

*A note on vegetarians: Anyone either completely vegetarian or with less than average intake of meat and fish will show below normal creatine levels. Same goes for lacto-vegetarians. If you find yourself in one of these categories, then creatine supplementation might interest you beyond just its performance-enhancing effects.

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Q. Is it necessary to load on creatine?

A. The short answer here is no, it’s not NECESSARY to load creatine, but it may help you see results faster.

The purpose of a load is to saturate your muscle cells with creatine as quickly as possible. If you were to only take a standard amount from the start, you may not reach full muscle saturation for weeks. Loading for 4-6 days can drastically cut this time down.

The downside of this is that it might not be in your budget to use that much creatine for the first week, and it also has the potential to cause gastrointestinal discomfort (gas and bloating).

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Q. Is it necessary to cycle creatine?

A. Same as the question above, the operative word here is ‘necessary’ and no, it’s not necessary to cycle creatine.

The body can become tolerant or accustomed to several widely used health supplements on the market today, leading users to “cycle” them or take the product for a given amount of time followed by a set time without use.

Creatine doesn’t create dependency in users nor does the body become tolerant to it. So though it’s not necessary to cycle creatine, it’s still never a bad idea to allow your body to function on its own every now and again, if only to reestablish equilibrium. For creatine 2-4 weeks off is more than sufficient.

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Q. What is the best time to take creatine?

A. For the majority of people it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s taken consistently every day.

Now some of you out there may be consuming some sort of fast acting carbohydrate right after your workout. If this is the case then you can take advantage of the spike in insulin your body has at that time to help absorb the creatine.

The temporary spike in insulin won’t necessarily convert the creatine into creatine phosphate any quicker, but it will aid the body’s process of absorption.

For everyone else, put it by your makeup or toothbrush so you won’t forget to take it every day.

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Q. Will taking creatine before a workout give me more energy?

A. No, it won’t. Theoretically it should, and many early users of creatine thought it would. Unfortunately the process of absorbing and converting creatine to creatine phosphate takes time.

The key is already having your muscles saturated with creatine hours before you touch a weight or hop on a treadmill. To accomplish this, it’s essential that you consistently maintain the muscle’s saturation level by never missing a daily serving of creatine.

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Q. What is the best type of creatine?

A. For most people this is a simple answer, and its good old creatine monohydrate. This form of creatine still delivers consistently and is backed by hundreds of studies.

It’s still recommended to buy from a reputable manufacturer; the purity of the creatine monohydrate is really the most important thing.

If you feel like splurging, there are several forms of creatine that aren’t as backed by research but are advertised to be better at being absorbed by the body and delivered to the muscles. This can eliminate much, if not all of the stomach discomfort in users prone to these side effects.

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Q. Can Creatine help me lose weight?

A. There’s no conclusive data to suggest creatine can directly affect weight lose. In fact, creatine fills up the muscles with water (an important component for muscle growth) and can appear to actually put weight on.

A very important distinction with this question is that it relates to weight loss, not fat loss. Let me explain.

Though creatine may add additional weight (from water within the muscle cells), the strength and lean muscle gains will actually increase the body’s metabolism and aid in FAT loss!

You heard it right; creatine can help the body burn fat.

So don’t worry about what the scale says, it may go up in number but you’ll soon notice your pants fitting looser and your body looking better.

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For more information on creatine, check out our Professional Guide!

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