Creatine Supplements FAQ
Go To: Top 10 Creatine Supplements
What Is Creatine & Where Does it Come From?
Creatine is perhaps one of the most extensively researched and proven sports supplements currently available on the market.
Often coming in the form of creatine monohydrate, this highly effective supplement is based on a nitrogenous organic acid which occurs naturally in the body and plays an instrumental role in providing energy to cells throughout the body, particularly muscle.
Creatine is synthesized in the body from the amino acids L-arginine, L-methionine, and Glycine, so while it technically is a non-essential nutrient, it can provide significant benefits to those of us engaged in hard bodybuilding or athletic training.
Production of Creatine
These substances are then heated under pressure in a reactor which results in the crystallization of creatine. From here the crystals are vacuum dried and then ground into the fine powder you typically find in your tubs of creatine supplements.
There are some slight variations in the manufacture of different types of creatine, but the overall concept remains the same.
What Types of Creatine Are There?
There are several types of creatine currently available, including:
- Creatine Monohydrate or Micronized Creatine; (Most Popular)
- Creatine Ethyl Ester;
- Buffered Creatine or Kre-Alkalyn;
- Creatine Malate;
- Creatine Magnesium Chelate;
- Creatine Hydrochloride;
- Creatine Gluconate; and
- Creatine Nitrate
These forms of creatine are marketed as providing their own range of slightly different benefits, usually in the realm of bioavailability, but creatine monohydrate and ethyl ester appear to be the most popular variations to date. You realistically don’t need anything other than creatine monohydrate. Save your money, because the other types are usually more expensive.
Creatine hydrochloride is of particular interest because it is claimed to be significantly more soluble in water than creatine monohydrate, making it the primary ingredient in CON-CRET by ProMera Health.
How Does Creatine Work and What are the Benefits?
Creatine is used by bodybuilders and athletes around the world as a means of enhancing power output as well as overall performance in anaerobic activities such as resistance training and sprinting.
Increases in performance of anything from 5 – 15% have been demonstrated in studies.
Other research has shown that creatine actually stimulates the activity of satellite cells, thereby providing the body with a greater impetus for muscle hypertrophy.
What this means in layman’s terms is that supplementing with creatine can increase your performance in the gym both in terms of maximal strength and your ability to recover from one set to the next, as well as actually enhancing your body’s ability to grow new muscle tissue.
The implications for training recovery and overall progress should be readily apparent from this!
 Hespel, P; Eijnde, BO; Derave, W; Richter, EA (2001). “Creatine supplementation: Exploring the role of the creatine kinase/phosphocreatine system in human muscle”.Canadian journal of applied physiology
Who Can Benefit from Using Creatine Supplements?
Aside from whey protein powder, creatine is arguably the most fundamental sports supplement there is, so any aspiring bodybuilder, powerlifter, athlete, or sportsman of any kind could potentially stand to benefit from using a creatine supplement.
There is also some preliminary research which suggests that the “[creatine] supplementation, in combination with other established clinical interventions, may be a very valuable adjunct therapy for patients at an early stage of the [Alzheimer’s] disease progression. “
Coupling these neuroprotectant properties of creatine with its ability to stimulate satellite cell activity makes supplemental creatine a highly worthwhile consideration for elderly individuals and those who are suffering from degenerative diseases later in life.
Do Any Foods or Drinks Contain Creatine?
Creatine is readily available to varying degrees in meat, mostly red meat.
There is some data to suggest that non-vegetarians will not see an increase in serum levels of creatine from the use of a supplemental creatine source; however, this is in direct conflict with the studies we have referenced above.
Furthermore, the vegetarians amongst you who aren’t currently reaping the training-related benefits of dietary meat consumption will most certainly see an increase in your endogenous creatine levels.
Increasing the amount of creatine in your system is a surefire way of improving your performance in the gym, or out on the track or field.
Is Creatine Dangerous?
No, but is should be treated with respect just like any other supplement or substance that you put into your body.
This means always adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines and ensuring that you are drinking a substantial amount of water through the day.
The point of hydration really can’t be emphasized strongly enough, so if you’re in doubt then simply drink more water!
As with any other product featured on this site, we do not recommend taking it before speaking with your doctor.
Does Creatine Have any Side Effects?
The main precaution to take when using creatine in supplemental form is to ensure you are drinking plenty of water along with it, and this means that you should be adequately hydrated throughout the day and not just when you take your doses of creatine.
Reports of digestive upset and muscle cramps have been commonly reported by users of creatine, but this is more often than not linked to a loss of fluids caused by sweating due to exercise coupled with a lack of proper fluid intake.
Speaking anecdotally, it is also a good idea to ensure that you do not leave your creatine suspended in water for too long prior to drinking it because it will begin to convert to creatinine which can result in bloating and general gastrointestinal discomfort.
Several hours is generally not a problem; however, this may vary from one individual to another.
Note: We recommend speaking to a doctor before taking any supplements.
How and When Should I use Creatine?
A daily dose of 5g is typically considered to be advantageous, and while some people advocate a preliminary loading phase this is not absolutely necessary as your endogenous creatine levels will rapidly become topped off anyway, especially if you are already eating plenty of meat.
Generally you should always follow the recommendations of whichever brand of creatine supplement you are using.
Nevertheless, creatine makes a great addition to your pre-workout or even intra-workout protocol if you have one, so taking your creatine with plenty of water approximately 30 minutes prior to training should produce some great results.
What’s more, if you are training with particularly high volume and intensity then you may also benefit from taking a second dose of creatine later in the day with your post-workout meal, ensuring you are thoroughly hydrated.
A standard dose of 5g of creatine should be more than sufficient for your non-training days, and this can be taken whenever is most convenient for you.
Related: Top 10 Pre Workout Supplements
Is Creatine a Drug / Steroid?
No, creatine is an organic acid that occurs naturally in the body, and there are strict governmental regulations surrounding the ingredients which go into sports supplements.
This ensures that no narcotic substances are found in commercially available creatine products.
Although we have discussed the fact that creatine is both effective and scientifically proven in its efficacy, it should be noted that this is by no means intended to come across as hype of any kind.
Creatine does not provide drug-like effects of any kind, but even if it helps to add a few percentage points to your overall progress from one month to the next then it will definitely be money well spent.
Do I Need Creatine to Make Progress in the Gym?
Technically speaking you don’t need to use any supplements of any kind to make progress in the gym, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they won’t help you considerably.
As we have mentioned, creatine has been proven time and time again, and has been researched for decades as a highly effective and safe sports supplement that has application in everything from hardcore bodybuilding to cycling and CrossFit.
If you are already using a basic whey protein powder then creatine is definitely the most sensible choice for your next bodybuilding-related supplement.
So while you don’t absolutely need it to make progress, you can bet that you will see some degree of improved gains by incorporating it into your supplement regimen.
How To Pick a Good Creatine Supplement
If you are concerned about fitting creatine into your budget then your most likely choice will be creatine monohydrate or micronized creatine as this tends to be the most economical option when purchased in bulk form.
Having said that, there are a lot of different creatine formulas available, with many pre-workout supplements featuring one or more types of creatine.
With this in mind, you might want to stretch your budget a little further by opting for a pre-workout that includes creatine in the formula rather than having to buy the two supplements separately.
Other than that, creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester appear to be the most popular and most thoroughly researched forms to date, so if you are simply looking for something that is sure to give you the results you need then either of these should provide you with what you’re after.
Please note: This FAQ has not been written or reviewed by a doctor or medical professional and is therefore not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Nor should it be used as medical reference.