I keep reading about creatine in virtually every magazine I read – but I really have no idea what it is – and what it does.
My friend swears by it and claims it’s essential for anyone looking to develop serious muscle. Do you agree? Have you ever used it? And which brands do you recommend?
Hey Tom, how are you?
Ah, the old creatine question huh? Let me first tell you that in my opinion your friend is wrong when he says creatine use is essential for anyone that’s serious in the weight room. I wonder how serious your friend’s nutrition and training is? I bet it’s not stellar. My main issue with most supplements is that 99% of the people who take them, shouldn’t be. Why would I say that?, because in my opinion unless EVERYTHING else in your health and fitness program is on par, you’ve got no business taking supplements. It’s like people that take diet pills and eat fast food – what’s the point? There are no shortcuts. If everything in your program is great, and you’re looking for an edge then maybe you can consider some products.
Now, without getting into complicated body processes, creatine helps your muscles by providing more energy within them. Creatine is naturally occurring and is part of the body’s energy making process. It can also be found in foods in small amounts, but athletes learned that when you super saturate your muscles with creatine through supplementation a few things happen. First, your muscles get pumped up a bit because creatine will help pull more water and muscle sugar into the cells. This is really its main draw, as guys love the pump and having rounder, fuller muscles. Because of the extra muscle glycogen stores, you’ll also have more muscular energy which means you’ll lift more weight, and get a few more reps. There’s also some science that it helps in protein uptake and shortens recuperation times. In essence, creatine is an energy aid that provides additional supplies of muscular energy and some visible fullness to your muscles.
Back in my day I used creatine, EAS Phosphagen HP to be exact – and I think I may have seen some results. But it’s hard to say because usually when people take supplements it’s usually part of a program that consists of a few changes, so it’s hard to differentiate where the positive effects are coming from. EAS is obviously a recognized company and an icon in the industry. So I felt I could trust the ingredients list on all of their products. Most people don’t know this, but all dietary supplements are not government regulated, which means you don’t really know what’s in the bottles you purchase in health food stores. In my opinion that’s also why we see such conflicting reports from users of all supplements, not just creatine. From one bottle to the next the dosage and purity can vary greatly. I’m sure you’ve seen many of these companies that have been in the news lately because the ingredients found within the product wasn’t even close to what the label stated. That’s scary stuff. This is one case where big brother isn’t watching out for you.
I’ve used creatine on and off for years. But mainly I eat healthy, take a multi mineral / vitamin, and drink a few quality protein shakes. That’s it, and I feel and look the best I ever have, and truthfully I think that’s all you need. I always say nothing replaces an intelligent exercise and nutrition program. While creatine can work, I think the effects are marginal and not really worth the added expense. Save your money for lean red meat and brown rice. If you do decide to try it, stick with the big name companies like EAS, MetRx or Muscletech. Let me know how it goes.
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