Creatine is an organic compound that naturally occurs in the body, produced by the body, and also ingested through food. Contrary to the opinion of many mothers, it is NOT a steroid. However many people are confused by what it is, how it works, and whether they need to supplement with it. So here is our very simple, easy-to-understand guide on all things Creatine.
What is it?
In one word: Energy. It is a chemical found mostly in the muscles. It provides the muscles with energy to work, especially during maximum intensity exercise for extremely short amounts of time, only a few seconds. Lower than maximum intensity exercise switches energy systems to carbohydrates and fats.
How does it work?
Creatine is used to supply energy to the muscles in high energy demand situations, for a few seconds. The body also uses a chemical called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) as energy to contract the muscles, creatine is also to recycle used ATP, known as ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate) back into ATP.
The graph below shows how the body uses different energy systems as the exercise duration increases, and intensity decreases.
Why you need it?
It is essential for a functioning body, found in all humans as it is biosynthesized (created in the body). It is also contained in the muscle fibers of animals, so if you eat meat you will also be ingesting some.
Supplementing with Creatine – The Facts
Creatine is the most widely scientifically researched supplement on the market.
There is no evidence that it harms the liver or kidneys in healthy people taking regular doses.
Science shows that vegetarians and vegans will respond much better to creatine supplementation than meat-eaters. This is because they ingest little creatine in their diet, as it is only really found in meat.
It is proven to significantly increase strength, improve recovery, and generally be extremely beneficial for performance.
Do you need to supplement with it?
It depends. If you are a carnivore, eating meat with every meal – then you can still realise performance benefits supplementing with it. However it may not be as significant as you thought, and sometimes it can be expensive so the cost-benefit analysis may not make it worth it.
If you are a vegetarian/vegan seeking to improve performance and recovery – then supplementing your diet with creatine can be an extremely effective way to increase your strength and assist recovery.