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Creatine – which one to choose for a beginner?

One of the most recognised and best-researched dietary supplements among athletes is creatine. It is also popular with bodybuilders. This is because creatine helps to build physical form. However, before you decide to buy it, it is worth finding out more about it, especially for beginners.

What exactly is creatine?

It is an organic compound (more precisely: beta-methyl guanidino acetic acid) produced naturally by the human body. Its task is to supply energy to all body cells, especially muscle cells. Its structure resembles that of proteins, as it combines three amino acids, i.e., arginine, methionine and glycine. Creatine can also be obtained from food (meat, fish). However, the diet alone is not sufficient to increase the body’s performance. The solution is to supplement creatine because it allows you to generate the necessary energy quickly. This makes it possible to perform more intensive training. Creatine is stored in muscles (98%). When its amount is too low, the human body cannot cope with increasing the difficulty of workouts.

How does creatine work?

The effects and also the advantages of creatine for people actively participating in sport are numerous and measurable. Firstly, the chemical compound described here strengthens muscles and influences the ability of muscle fibres to regenerate (and even to heal wounds). During the intensive physical effort, muscle fibres break down. It is creatine that is the factor that effectively supports their repair process. Secondly, creatine is essential in the fight against oxidative stress and tissue oxidation.

Therefore, it is necessary for people with increased physical effort in sports, where proper regeneration is critical for achieving the set goals. Creatine is not only a supplement for professionals. It may support every organism in the post-workout period and in building muscle mass. Thirdly, creatine has anabolic effects. This means that it increases lean body mass through muscle protein synthesis. So you can see that creatine has many benefits for improving physical fitness. Interestingly, creatine (which has been well researched so far) is also used to treat diseases such as muscular dystrophies, heart failure or even Parkinson’s disease.

Types of creatine:

There are many types of creatine on the market today, but the most commonly used ones include three. These are:

1. creatine monohydrate. This type is suitable for beginners as monohydrate is the primary form of creatine and has the least ability to convert to its active format, phosphocreatine. In addition, monohydrate is prone to water retention (it binds water molecules in cells). It, therefore, causes more significant weight gain than other types of creatine. At the end of the cycle, however, everything returns to normal. 

2. creatine malate. Here there is no water binding in cells; malate also shows a much greater predisposition to conversion into phosphocreatine. It, therefore, causes more significant strength gains than monohydrate, without any noticeable water retention. Nevertheless, it will still work well for beginners.

3. creatine citrate. It is very well absorbed by cells and shows a twice as slow breakdown to inactive creatinine. It retains almost no water in the body. It is suitable for people who want to increase muscle mass and those who train endurance sports. It increases exercise capacity.

Other types of creatine available are:

  • creatine-alkaline (a kind adapted to smaller doses),
  • creatine magnesium chelate (characterised by high bioavailability),
  • creatine nitrate (combining it with nitrogen molecules increases the volume of blood vessels),
  • creatine hydrochloride (does not change into inactive creatine excreted in urine),
  • creatine orotate.

The latter is considered the most potent form of creatine.

When is the best time to take creatine?

This chemical compound used as a dietary supplement comes as both creatine powder and creatine tablets. It does not matter which form you take. Both are absorbed relatively quickly by the body. As mentioned earlier, the best creatine for beginners is monohydrate. When it comes to taking creatine, everyone agrees that it should not be taken before training. This is because it has a potential tendency to impair the effect of sugars. However, there are differences in the approach to the use of creatine. Some advocate using it systematically in a fixed-dose. Others (supporters of the saturation phase) rely on the so-called “loading”.

This consists in taking as much as 30 g of creatine a day (divided into doses) for 7-15 days. This is aimed at quickly increasing the amount of this chemical compound in muscles. After this period, there is a maintenance phase, when an appropriately reduced dose of creatine (usually about 5g) is taken only after training. Creatine is born with a meal. It can be mixed with carbohydrates and protein supplements to increase the effectiveness of the supplement.

To sum up, creatine is a supplement recommended for athletes. It increases muscle mass and endurance and contributes to better regeneration. When used in the proper doses, it has no side effects and is safe for the body.


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