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Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that helps supply energy to the cells throughout the body, particularly muscle cells. People may choose to take creatine supplements to boost their athletic performance and help build muscle.
The human body naturally produces creatine, and it is also available in meat. However, some people may take supplements to try to improve their athletic performance. Creatine supplements are available in many different forms.
This article will look at creatine and its various forms in more detail and provide a list of products that people may consider trying.
Creatine is a natural compound that occurs abundantly in red meat, poultry, and fish. In the body, creatine helps supply the cells with energy. This includes providing the muscle cells with energy.
Creatine is a combination of three amino acids: glycine, L-arginine, and L-methionine. Most of the body’s creatine is in the muscles, though the brain also stores some.
There are a few different types of creatine supplement available. Some of the more popular types include:
- Creatine monohydrate: This is the most common form of creatine. It comprises one creatine molecule and one water molecule.
- Buffered creatine: Also known as Kre-Alkalyn, this form contains an alkaline buffer.
- Creatine HCL: This creatine is bonded with a hydrochloride salt, which may help enhance absorption.
Some research suggests that the average person may require roughly 1–3 grams (g) of creatine each day. However, a few different factors can affect how much may be beneficial for a person to consume.
For example, athletes who go through hard or more intense physical training may benefit from a higher creatine intake.
Creatine is a popular supplement among athletes and people looking to build or repair muscles. It may be best for people who regularly engage in moderate to high intensity training.
Others may take it to supplement their diet. As dietary creatine comes mainly from red meat and fish, vegans and vegetarians may take creatine supplements to help ensure that they get enough each day.
Some people with conditions that affect how their body makes or uses amino acids may also need regular creatine supplementation.
Some research suggests that creatine supplementation may also be beneficial for immune system regulation and for people with muscle wasting diseases or neurological conditions. However, more research is necessary to support these claims.
Creatine is one of the most popular supplements among athletes and people who regularly train their bodies, as it may help support ideal muscle energy.
One 2017 review notes that, as well as helping improve athletic performance, creatine may also help with a number of other factors.
- enhancing recovery after workouts
- regulating temperature
- preventing injury
- rehabilitating the muscles
- protecting the spinal cord
- recovering from concussion
Creatine may also play a role in a number of other conditions, including:
More research needs to explore these results before scientists can make any broad claims.
Creatine is a natural supplement, and the risk of experiencing side effects from the supplement itself is minimal.
However, some people may experience the following side effects from taking creatine:
- stomach pain
- muscle cramping
In higher dosages over long periods of time, supplementation with creatine may affect the liver or kidneys. However, research does not currently support this concern.
High dosages of creatine may affect various bodily functions, and some people may need to use creatine with caution. Anyone who is uncertain if they can safely use creatine should talk to their doctor.
It is important to take creatine as the packaging suggests. Do not take more creatine in hopes of more benefit, as the body can only use so much at one time.
Some people may decide to do a creatine loading phase. This involves taking multiple doses of creatine for a week to increase muscle stores rapidly, then decreasing daily intake to maintain high levels. However, taking lower regular doses over a long period of time may have the same effect.
Avoid taking very high dosages, and look out for any other ingredients in the product that may affect the body.
For example, some sports mixes will contain other ingredients, such as caffeine. People who are sensitive to caffeine may experience negative effects when consuming these drinks.
Many creatine supplements are available to buy. Below are five products that people may wish to try.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All product information is purely research-based.
BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate Powder (Micronized)
This product is a micronized creatine monohydrate powder. The micronizing process creates rapidly dissolving powder, which mixes into most drinks quickly. This may be best for people who do not enjoy different textures in their drink and need the mix to dissolve completely.
It contains 5 g of micronized creatine monohydrate powder per serving, and the powder contains no other ingredients.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder
This product is a micronized creatine monohydrate powder for quick absorption and use. Each serving delivers 5 g of pure creatine monohydrate. The product contains no other ingredients.
The manufacturers suggest mixing the creatine with water, fruit juice, or a protein shake.
Naked Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate Powder
This product is a certified vegan creatine option. It offers 5 g of micronized creatine monohydrate per serving, with no added ingredients.
It also delivers a larger serving size than many, with around 200 servings per bottle.
MuscleTech Cell Tech Creatine Monohydrate and Creatine HCL
This product is a post-workout recovery powder that contains creatine and many other supportive ingredients to help the body recover.
It contains a mixture of both creatine monohydrate and creatine HCL. It also provides branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and other helpful amino acids, such as taurine.
NOW Sports Kre-Alkalyn Creatine Capsules
Instead of a powder, this product comes in the form of convenient capsules. It contains Kre-Alkalyn, which proponents suggest may enhance creatine uptake in the muscles and lead to fewer side effects than creatine monohydrate.
However, research does not support the claims that Kre-Alkalyn has fewer side effects than creatine monohydrate.
Creatine is a natural substance, but some people may not enjoy taking it as a supplement. There are other ways to get creatine, such as by eating lean meat and fish.
Additionally, other compounds may help build and repair muscle. For example, high quality proteins rich in BCAAs may also be beneficial.
Creatine is a popular natural supplement that may help build and repair muscles and enhance performance. It is generally safe and one of the most extensively studied supplements.
As with any supplement, it is best to opt for moderate use and discuss it first with a doctor.
People may also be able to increase their creatine intake through their diet.