For those who are interested in bulking up and seeing significant results in regard to strength and lean muscle mass, creatine has long been a staple. This supplement has been extensively researched for it’s benefits for both professional and recreational athletes and- while those who want to bulk up are comfortable with using it, there are many individuals that are seeking improved performance are skeptical, even with the various forms of creatine on the market.
While it’s true that creatine is known to increase muscle growth, there are many other benefits that go beyond bulking for muscle mass or muscle building. Since creatine is extremely effective, there are many serious lifters and body builders that love it and those who want to improve their performance on short, powerful workouts, such as sprinting.
When you use creatine, you can restore what you typically lose in an intense workout and support a longer, stronger workout. In this article, we’re going to explore some of the other benefits associated with this supplement.
What is Creatine?
Before we can explain the benefits of creatine supplementation, we need to first explain what creatine is. Creatine is a tripeptide that is naturally produced in your body. It is called a tripeptide because it is comprised of three amino acids: methionine, glycine, and arginine. You can also obtain creatine through dietary sources, such as meat. As a result, vegans and vegetarians have lower levels of creatine in their bodies than those that do eat meat.
Even for non-vegetarians, a creatine supplement can improve creatine concentration in the muscles by up to 40%. Researchers have spent many years studying the efficacy and safety of creatine as a dietary supplement, and it’s consumed around the world.
Some of the effects include improved athletic performance and musculoskeletal health, and even potentially benefits brain health. We’ll get more into the benefits of creatine supplementation below. First though, we’re going to list the major types of creatine on the market.
12 Basic Types of Creatine on the Market
Below, we’re going to list the 12 basic types of creatine on the market today.
- Creatine monohydrate
- Creatine anhydrous (created by removing the water molecule)
- Micronized creatine monohydrate (mechanically processed to improve absorbability)
- Creatine HCL
- Creatine Ethyl Ester
- Creatine Ethyl Ester Malate
- Creatine gluconate
- Buffered Creatine Monohydrate
- Liquid Creatine
- Creatine Magnesium Chelate
- Creatine Citrate
- Creatine Nitrate
Benefits of Creatine for Athletes
As we mentioned, creatine is a natural substance that is used to improve athletic performance in the gym and on the field. According to research, when it comes to building muscle and strength, this supplement is safe and effective, as well as being one of the most popular supplements in the world. Below, we’re going to look at 10 benefits of creatine supplementation for athletes.
Creatine facilitates the production of energy
Creatine supplementation boosts the phosphocreatine stores in your body. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is formed by phosphocreatine and is the molecule used by cells for energy and basic life functions. During exercise, the ATP is broken down to give you energy. The resynthesis of ATP limits your ability to perform at maximum intensity because you use it faster than you use it.
Creatine supplementation increases phosphocreatine stores, which means you can produce more ATP to fuel your muscles during HIIT workouts.
Creatine supports other muscle functioning
Creatine is known for increasing muscle mass by altering cellular pathways that result in new muscle growth. For example, studies have shown that it increases formation of proteins that build new muscle fibers. It may also increase IGF-1, that is insulin-like growth factor 1, which is a hormone that promotes muscle mass increases. Creatine supplements also pull water into your muscles, making them look bigger. This is known as cell volumization. Finally, some research stipulates that creatine may decrease myostatin levels. Myostatin is known for stunting growth of muscles.
Creatine improves HIIT workout performance
Since creatine has a direct impact on the production of ATP, it can significantly improve your HIIT workout performance. Following are some of the factors that may be affected:
- Sprint ability
- Fatigue resistance
- Ballistic power
- Muscle endurance
- Brain performance
- Muscle mass
While many supplements only benefit advanced athletes, creatine can provide benefits for all fitness levels. In fact, one study indicated that HIIT performance was improved by 15%.
Creatine speeds up growth of muscles
When it comes to increasing muscle mass, creatine is the most effective supplement in the world. In fact, many people see muscle growth in as little as 5 to 7 days, especially if they are practicing cycling and are in the loading phase. Of course, the initial increase is due to water being pulled into your muscles- but over time, growth of muscle fibers is stimulated.
Creatine may help with neurodegenerative conditions
Some research has indicated that creatine may be useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions. This includes conditions such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.
At the center of Parkinson’s is a reduction in dopamine levels. Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter in your brain. This dopamine reduction results in death of brain cells and a few serious symptoms, including speech impairment, tremors, and loss of muscle function.
In rodent studies, creatine has been shown to prevent 90% of the typical dopamine reduction. That being said, at this time there are no human studies, so it’s unclear if it will work in humans.
Some patients with Parkinson’s often engage in weight training to prevent loss of strength and muscle function. Since creatine can help with muscle gain and strength increases, using creatine with weight training results in an increase in daily functioning.
One of the primary factors in Huntington’s disease is a reduction in phosphocreatine levels in your brain. Since creatine is known to boost these levels, it’s believed that it could slow the progression of the condition. By restoring phosphocreatine levels, you can maintain daily function and reduce cell death by approximately 25%.
According to animal studies, creatine may also treat other neurological conditions including:
- Brain/spinal cord injuries
- Ischemic stroke
There is also some indication that creatine may also offer benefits against ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a condition that destroys the motor neurons needed for movement. Creatine improves motor function, reduces loss of muscles, and improves survival rate by 17%.
Though more research is needed, some studies have indicated creatine supplementation can defend against these neurological conditions (and others) when used in conjunction with conventional medications.
Creatine may decrease blood sugar levels & fight diabetes
According to some research, creatine supplementation may decrease blood sugar levels by increasing the function of a molecule that carries blood sugar to your muscles known as glucose transporter type 4, or GLUT-4.
One study looked at the effects of creatine on blood sugar levels following a high carb meal over a period of 12 weeks. Individuals who combined creatine with working out showed better control of blood sugar levels than those who were only working out.
One of the major markers of diabetes is short-term blood sugar response to a meal. The faster your body can process the sugar out of your system, the better off you are.
Creatine may improve overall brain function
Did you know that creatine plays a critical role in brain health and function? Research has indicated that your brain requires ATP when performing tasks that are difficult. As you know, your body needs phosphocreatine to create ATP and phosphocreatine levels can be boosted via creatine supplementation. Additionally, research indicates that creatine also increases dopamine and mitochondrial functioning in the brain, which improves brain functioning.
Your body naturally produces creatine, and you can get it through dietary sources, such as meat. This means that vegetarians are often lacking in creatine. However, with creatine supplementation, vegetarians experience a 20 to 50% improvement in intelligence and memory test scores.
Creatine supplementation in older individuals for a period of two weeks resulted in improved memory and recall. Studies indicate that creatine boosts brain function, reduces loss of muscle and strength due to aging, and protects against a variety of neurological conditions. Despite these findings, we need more research in the young, healthy population that regularly consume meat and/or fish.
Creatine may reduce tiredness and fatigue
There is some research that indicates creatine supplementation can reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue.
One study looked at patients with traumatic brain injury over a period of 6 months. Those who experienced dizziness saw a 50% reduction in that symptom compared to those who were not using creatine. Additionally, only 10% of patients who were taking creatine as a supplement experienced fatigue. In the control group, the ones not taking creatine, 80% experienced fatigue. Therefore, it seems like creatine can make you feel more alert.
Another study indicated that creatine could improve energy levels and decrease fatigue during periods of insomnia or sleep deprivation. Finally, creatine has been shown to reduce feelings of fatigue when working out in high heat.
Creatine is safe and easy to use
Finally, along with the other benefits we’ve mentioned above, creatine has been proven safe and effective- plus it’s inexpensive and easy to find. More than 200 years of research has been dedicated to this supplement, and many studies do indicate that it is safe for long-term use. Some of the clinical trials have lasted up to 5 years and saw no adverse effect in healthy individuals.
Creatine is easy to take. It comes in powder and capsule forms. You can either take the capsules with a glass of water or combine the powder into water to create your own drink or you can add it to your smoothie, shake, or anything else that you consume prior to your workout.
Top 6 Best Creatine for Athletes Reviews
Now that you know what creatine is, as well as some of the benefits associated with creatine supplementation, we’re going to look at what we believe are the top 6 best creatine for athletes. Hopefully we can help you decide which one you’d like to use for yourself because, as you can see, there are lots of great benefits- whether you are an elite athlete or just working out in the local gym.
XWERKS is a well-known company in the fitness supplement industry. Their creatine product, Lift, is a high quality, micronized creatine monohydrate. After all, research has proven time and time again that creatine monohydrate is the best, so XWERKS decided that they wouldn’t try to “fix” what wasn’t broken. They saw no reason to bring something new to the table.
Each serving of XWERKS Lift offers a high dose (5 grams) of pure creatine monohydrate and since it is unflavored, you can combine it with whatever you like while working out. Many people choose to combine it with their protein shake, and some consume it before working out, while others consume it after. Then, there are some who believe they get the most benefit by doing both. The great thing is, it’s all about what you feel like doing.
Each package of XWERKS Lift contains 80 servings and costs $49. XWERKS does offer a subscription plan that allows you to save 5% each month, bringing the cost down to $46.55 and you can choose how often you want to have it delivered. This is one of the best deals on our list.
Onnit Creatine Monohydrate
Next on our list is Onnit Creatine Monohydrate. Onnit is considered one of the best fitness supplement companies on the market- so you shouldn’t be shocked that their creatine supplement made the list. According to Onnit, their creatine has been proven to build muscle and increase strength- which improves overall effectiveness in workouts.
Onnit costs $14.99 for 30 servings, containing 5 grams of micronized creatine each. Onnit offers a subscription program that allows you to save 15%, which means it will cost you $12.74 per delivery. Since most people take it once a day, once a month should work out just fine on the delivery schedule.
It is unflavored, so you can add it to whatever you like and enjoy all of the wonderful benefits it has to offer. Onnit Creatine Monohydrate promises an increase in power and reps when weight lifting, as well as guaranteed gains in strength and lean muscle mass.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
Micronized Creatine Powder from Optimum Nutrition is one of the most popular creatine supplements on the market. This formula provides 5 grams of micronized creatine monohydrate per serving to improve ATP recycling, explosive strength, muscle growth, stamina, and efficiency.
In addition to the high dose of creatine, Optimum Nutrition Creatine has 0 carbs and 0 calories- making it quite similar to the other supplements on our list. You can also be sure that it’s pure, there are no additives or unnecessary fillers added to this powder.
One of the primary reasons Micronized Creatine Powder from Optimum Nutrition is so popular is because they offer a variety of sizes:
- 30 servings ($10.99)
- 240 servings ($44.99)
- 400 servings ($64.99)
At this time, it does not appear that Optimum Nutrition offers a subscribe and save program- but the price is still budget-friendly. You can be sure that you’re not going to wreck your budget with this one.
CRN-5 by Crazy Nutrition
Crazy Nutrition is a well-known name in the fitness supplement arena. They, like the others on our list, offer a variety of options: weight loss, weight gain, muscle gain, and more. Their creatine formula, CRN-5, is one of the most well-known products. It has been around for some time.
This creatine comes in an orange-mango flavor, and it mixes well with water. Each container offers 30 servings and costs $29.99. They do offer a subscribe and save option that will save you a little, bringing the cost down to $23.99 per container. You schedule how often you wish to have it delivered.
Each serving of CRN-5 contains 10.2 grams of creatine and promises to improve HIIT workout performance and increase both strength and muscle pump.
So far, all of the creatine supplements on our list have been creatine monohydrate- but CRN-5 by Crazy Nutrition actually has 5 different kinds of creatine:
- Creatine monohydrate
- Creatine citrate pyruvate
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Creatine HCL
- Tri-creatine malate
According to the website, this combination provides maximum efficiency when working out. This supplement also contains electrolytes to assist with replenishment and hydration- sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Any time you are working out, especially if you are using creatine supplementation, you need to make sure that you are drinking plenty of water as well.
SPORT Maintain by Performance Lab
SPORT Maintain by Performance Lab works in the same way as the rest of the creatine supplements on our list. It facilitates muscle growth and provides your muscles with the nutrients required for growth. Individuals who take this supplement hare reported an increase in power, persistence, and strength.
The difference is, SPORT Maintain is not a powdered creatine supplement- it comes in capsule form. According to the directions, in order to see results, you need to take 6 to 10 capsules per day, depending on your needs, goals, and health. You’ll get approximately 3,000 milligrams of creatine per 6-capsule dose. Yes, this is lower than the dosage offered by the other supplements on our list. However, they make up for it by adding 1,600 milligrams of beta-alanine in each dose.
If you are looking for a high-quality, efficient, encapsulated creatine, SPORT Maintain is your best option. That being said, each package only contains 60 capsules, which is up to 10 days’ worth.
Cellucor Creatine Monohydrate
Finally, we have Cellucor Creatine Monohydrate. Cellucor is another popular fitness supplement brand. Their creatine monohydrate formula definitely delivers on the quality you would expect from this company. This is definitely the most budget-friendly option on our list, costing $24.99 for 72 servings. Cellucor does offer a subscribe and save program that allows you to save 30%. This brings the total down to $17.49 per container.
Research has proven time and time again that creatine helps build muscle and Cellucor improved on that by micronizing their creatine monohydrate. This allows your body to digest and absorb it easier.
There has been decades of research dedicated to creatine. Researchers have learned that creatine monohydrate is the best- though there are lots of different options on the market today. As you can see, there are lots of amazing benefits that come with creatine supplementation- for athletes of all levels. Plus, we’ve outlined for you what we feel are the top 6 best creatine for athletes on the market today.
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