Creatine is one of the world’s bestselling sports nutritional supplements. It’s natural, been extensively studied, and has been around for 30 plus years. In supplement terms, it’s this last fact that’s the icing on the cake because if it didn’t work, it would have soon disappeared from supplement store’s shelves.

Despite early concerns over creatine safety, more than 500 studies have reported that creatine is safe to use. It’s not a steroid and nor does it cause neurosis, so you won’t develop “‘roid rage” or of the other side effects suggested by the media.

Creatine is actually something your body produces all by itself and is present in meat. It plays a vital role in energy production and the more creatine you have, the harder and longer you’ll be able to exercise, and the faster you’ll recover between sets and workouts.


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Creatine benefits

Many users experience numerous benefits from regular creatine use including:

  • - Increased strength

  • - Increased endurance – more reps performed

  • - Less fatigue

  • - Increased bodyweight

  • - Increased muscle size

  • - Reduced body fat

  • - Increased work capacity

  • - Decreased joint pain

Creatine is of greatest benefit to the anaerobic energy system which powers short, powerful activities such as sprinting, jumping, and lifting weights. It is less useful for endurance activities such as distance running and cycling.

Types of creatine

In an attempt to make creatine more profitable, many manufacturers produce a variety of supplements that contain creatine. The aim of each type of creatine supplement is the same but, through chemical engineering, each one works slightly differently. Types of creatine include:

  • - Creatine nitrate

  • - Creatine magnesium chelate

  • - Creatine phosphate

  • - Creatine anhydrous 

  • - Di-Creatine and Tri-Creatine Malate

  • - Creatine citrate

  • - Creatine oroate

  • - Effervescent Creatine

  • - Buffered creatine

  • - Creatine hydrochloride

  • - Creatine Ethyl Ester

  • - Liquid creatine

  • - Creatine monohydrate

Of all these compounds, creatine monohydrate is the most common and the least expensive. The others offer small benefits e.g. lower water retention or faster delivery, but in terms of cost and effectiveness, monohydrate is the winner by a mile. Powder or capsule form, creatine monohydrate is your best choice.

Using creatine

There are two main ways to use creatine – the loading method and the gradual build-up method.

In the loading method, you take five grams of creatine four to five times per day for seven days. This saturates your cells and produces a rapid onset of creatine-related benefits. Once loading is completed, you then drop down to five grams per day after that for maintenance.

In the gradual build-up method, you take five grams per day from the outset. Levels increase over several weeks. This is more cost effective but does mean you’ll have to wait up to a month before you experience any meaningful benefits.

For some people, loading causes mild digestive distress and water retention so the gradual build-up method may be better for them. For everyone else, the loading method is probably the best way to go. Creatine is quite cost effective so even if you load, it’s not going to cost as much as some other supplements.

Once you are “on” creatine, there is no need to cycle off. There are no known adverse side effects, and you’ll gradually lose any benefits if you stop taking it.

Other benefits of creatine

While creatine is primarily of interest to exercisers, it seems that regular use of creatine offers additional benefits. These include:

1) Reduced age-related sarcopenia – muscles get smaller with age. Creatine appears to slow age-related muscle loss which can preserve function and independence. Good news if you want to age gracefully.

2) Improved glucose tolerance – creatine use can lower blood glucose and increase the conversion of blood glucose to liver and muscle glycogen. This may reduce weight gain and lower the risk of developing diabetes.

3) Enhanced brain function – creatine is an extremely important neuroprotectant, an agent that increases the survival of nerve cells to environmental injury. This can protect your brain against the ravages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and other neurodegenerative disorders. Creatine also appears to enhance memory.

4) Reduced risk of depression – current studies suggests that creatine treatment may be a promising therapeutic approach for people with depression.

5) Increased bone healing – in people with fractures, creatine appears to speed up bone repair. Good news if you are laid up with a broken bone and are in a rush to get back on your feet.

If you aren’t using creatine, maybe you should be. Unlike so many other supplements that are 99% hype, creatine has been exhaustively studied and is the real deal. It’s certainly cheap enough to try for three-months to see if it works for you.