If you are interested in getting in shape and getting the most out of your workout, you need to learn about creatine and the best creatine supplement to choose. This is a substance that is often considered an amino acid, but it is actually a tripeptide, which is a combination of three amino acids:
Your body naturally creates it and it’s found in dietary sources such as red meat, seafood, and poultry. However, the amount found in dietary sources is low and most of that is lost in the cooking process. You can also find it in supplements on the shelf at your local health food stores, grocery stores, and even online. These supplements are found in powders, liquids, and capsules. There are many people that use creatine as part of their training regimen.
According to the experts, approximately 95% of the creatine in your body is stored in your muscles as phosphocreatine. The other 5% is stored in your liver, kidneys, and brain. In order to maintain ideal levels of creatine, you should be taking in 3 to 5 grams daily, based on your muscle mass.
As mentioned, creatine is a tripeptide, made up of 3 amino acids. It is naturally created in your body and stored as phosphocreatine in your muscles. You can also obtain it through dietary sources- but you would need to consume a lot because the levels are low to begin with and most of it is lost in the cooking process. Your body requires creatine to maintain muscle mass- which is the primary reason you need to use a supplement.
The creatine in your body is stored in your muscles as creatine phosphate. It is used to create adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP. This is a high energy molecule that your body uses to help you power through even the most intense workouts. In fact, it’s often referred to as the fuel source for the body. You become capable of fast and powerful movements when you are supplementing with creatine.
There are several different factors that can have an effect on the level of creatine within your body. They are as follows:
As mentioned, most of the creatine in your body is found in your muscles. There is a small percentage that is found in your kidneys, brain, and liver. When you use a creatine supplement, you increase creatine in your body- which increases phosphocreatine levels, which means you are able to produce more ATP.
The higher your ATP levels, the greater intensity you can work out at. Additionally, creatine has an effect on several cellular processes, resulting in increased muscle mass, improved recovery, and enhanced strength for weightlifters, bodybuilders, and athletes. Even the average person can benefit from creatine supplementation. Some studies indicate that creatine can benefit athletes who are involved in sprinting and lifting activities.
How Does Creatine Work?
Typically, the ATP levels in your body are just enough to last for about 10 seconds. You can increase the phosphocreatine stores in your body to improve the production of ATP in your body. According to research, higher phosphocreatine levels equal improved athletic performance.
The higher your ATP levels, the better your athletic performance. Research has proven that creatine can also enhance strength training results and shorten recovery times. It can boost performance and gains down to the cellular level. Below are a few of the specific ways that creatine improves overall athletic performance:
Increases the volume you can train at, which is required for long-term muscle mass growth
Improves satellite signaling within the cells, which results in faster muscle repair, recovery, and ultimately- growth
Increases hormone levels
Brings hydration into muscles, resulting in growth
Decreases myostatin levels (which inhibit muscle growth) to increase the potential for muscle growth
Increases phosphocreatine in the brain, improving overall brain health, and reducing the risk of neurological conditions such as ALS, Parkinson’s Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s
5 Basic Types of Creatine
When you start to shop for a creatine supplement, you will be faced with a plethora of options. There are so many different brands and formulations, it can be next to impossible to figure out what’s best if you don’t know what you’re looking for. That being said, the very first thing you need to know is that there are five basic types of creatine- the most common is creatine monohydrate. Most of the creatine products on the market will contain one type of creatine- but there are a few that contain a blend of two or more. Some research indicates that the ones with a blend of creatine types may be better than those that just contain one form.
Below, I will explore the five most common types of creatine you’ll find on the market today:
The most common form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. This is also the most affordable and the one that has been used in much of the research that has been done. It is most known for its enhancing properties.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
Some of the research shows that the bioavailability of creatine ethyl ester is higher than that of creatine monohydrate. The term bioavailability describes how easily your body can absorb and use it. However, there is also some research that indicates there’s no difference between these two forms of creatine.
Creatine Hydrochloride (HCl)
The third type of creatine on the market is creatine hydrochloride, also known as creatine HCl. In this form of creatine, a creatine molecule is attached to a hydrochloride molecule in an effort to increase water solubility. It is believed that a the higher the water solubility, the easier it is for your body to absorb it. Some studies indicate that this form of creatine may be better than others- but other studies still support creatine monohydrate as best.
The pH level of buffered creatine is higher than that of creatine monohydrate. Some of the research indicates that because of the higher pH, this version is the most effective- but most of the information shows no major difference. The two most well-known brands on the market are Crea-Trona and Kre-Alkalyn.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate
The fifth and final type of creatine we’ll look at is creatine magnesium chelate. This is a form of creatine where a magnesium molecule is attached to a creatine molecule. There is some belief that this form of creatine is easier for the body to quickly absorb, but there is no scientific evidence to back this up.
Honestly, when it comes to creatine supplementation, they all basically have the same effect. It is stored in muscles as phosphocreatine and converted into ATP- which ultimately improves athletic performance.
Top 5 Best Creatine Reviews
So far in this article, we’ve learned about what creatine is and what it does. We’ve explored the five primary types of creatine available. We’ve also looked at some of the potential benefits and side effects/risks associated with creatine use. Now, we’re going to look at the reviews of what I feel are the top 5 creatine supplements on the market today. If you are considering creatine use, this will give you a great place to start:
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Crazy Nutrition CRN-5
XWERKS Lift – Editor’s Choice
(Photo : XWERKS Lift)
XWERKS is a well-established, well-respected member of the dietary supplement industry. They are known for creating high quality CBD and performance products. You can trust whatever they release to the market.
Lift is their creatine formula. This is absolutely everything you could hope for in a creatine supplement and so much more. Each package contains 80 doses of high-quality creatine monohydrate. XWERKS has done their homework. They know that creatine monohydrate is the superior form- so they stuck with it. They did not try to re-invent the wheel and come up with something new and different. After all, there’s no reason to go against science.
Each dose is 5 grams, which is one of the highest dosages you will find. Plus, it’s unflavored, so you can add it to anything you want without having an effect on the flavor. This is one of the most budget-friendly items, with a cost of $49 for 80 servings, making it one of the most cost-effective in the industry.
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
(Photo : Transparent Labs Creatine HMB)
Transparent Labs is a fitness supplement company from Utah. As you can tell from their name, their focus is being 100% transparent with all of their products. They do not believe in proprietary blends, as they want you to know what you are getting and how much in each dose from their products.
They also provide analysis certifications on their website so that you can see. They never add anything artificial in their products. If you want a creatine supplement that will help you build muscle, Transparent Labs Creatine HMB may be a great option for you.
Creatine HMB from Transparent Labs offers 5 grams of pure creatine monohydrate per serving, along with a dose of hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB).
Crazy Nutrition CRN-5
Crazy Nutrition is a subsidiary of Wolfson Brands Ltd, based in the UK. They are known for bringing high quality supplements produced in FDA approved facilities for a variety of reasons, including weight gain, weight loss, and bulking up. CRN-5 is their creatine supplement and is one of their most popular and well-known supplements. Each container offers 30 servings and will cost you $34.99. The website claims that CRN-5 improves overall strength, along with HIIT results and muscle pump.
As we mentioned, most of the creatine supplements on the market contain creatine monohydrate. CRN-5 is a bit different, as it contains 5 different types of creatine. The company claims that the addition of 4 other creatine types improves the efficiency of their product. The creatine found in CRN-5 includes:
Crazy Nutrition has also added electrolytes to their creatine formula to assist with replenishment and hydration. These electrolytes include:
Of course, it’s critical to keep in mind that experts indicate you should be consuming a lot of water when working out- especially if you are using a creatine supplement.
Onnit Creatine Monohydrate
Coming in at number four on our list is Onnit’s creatine formula. According to popular opinion, they are one of the top weightlifting supplements at this time. Therefore, it just makes sense to include them in a list of the top 5 creatine formulas. This creatine monohydrate formula promises to improve muscle mass and increase strength, which ultimately improves your overall athletic performance.
At this time Onnit Creatine Monohydrate costs $14.99 for 30 scoops. Like the other products on our list so far, Onnit offers 5 grams of micronized creatine monohydrate per serving. Also, it is unflavored, so you can add it to anything you like without affecting the taste.
Cellucor Cor-Performance Creatine
Cellucor was launched in GNC stores in 2009- so they have been around for quite a while and have become quite popular in that time. This is usually the first company that comes to mind when people think about fitness supplements. Their creatine formula, Cor-Performance Creatine, supports their reputation. Plus, it’s only $24.99 per container of 72 doses, making it very budget friendly. However, the budget price on this product does not mean that it’s not good quality.
What are the Benefits Gained from Creatine Supplementation?
As we have mentioned, when it comes to athletic supplements, creatine is one of the most common and most widely studied. At this point, you’ve learned more about what creatine is and what it does, as well as the most common forms. We’ve briefly mentioned a few of the most common benefits- but we’ll explore them a little more deeply below. This should help you get a better idea of why you should be using this supplement in your daily routine.
Bodybuilding is Improved
In 2003, a group of scientists at Baylor University looked at the efficiency of creatine and found that it is the perfect supplement for athletes that are interested in maximizing their strength and sprint speed. In their study, sprint times were decreased, and the amount of weight lifted was increased after supplementation. In addition, creatine increased muscle mass. On the other hand, it was proven that creatine is not effective for activities such as long-distance endurance or aerobic training.
Muscle Growth Increased
Researchers gathered the information from more than 300 studies and found that creatine supplementation and muscle growth are strongly connected. Most of these studies indicated that elements such as short-term efficiency, power, sprint efficiency, and strength were increased by 5 to 15% following creatine supplementation.
Workouts are Improved
In 2017, researchers discovered and praised some of the secondary benefits that have been found to be associated with creatine supplementation. They came up with several “potential” health benefits. Additionally, studies indicated that there are very few risks associated with creatine supplementation- even with long-term use.
Muscle Mass & Strength are Increased
When it comes to bodybuilders and supplements, they often stack- especially protein and creatine. In 2001, researchers investigated how this stack affected a variety of participants over the course of 6 weeks. They divided the participants into 3 groups. One was given only protein, one was given the stack, and the final one was given a placebo. All three were given the same resistance training program to complete. Over the course of 6 weeks, the group that was given the stack had more increase in their muscle mass. In addition, this was the group that saw the most improvement in their optimum bench press scores and strength.
Injury Recovery is Improved
Many people believe that creatine is just for bulking. However, this isn’t true- it can also help improve injury recovery. Belgian researchers explored this by placing 22 healthy individuals in a cast for 2 weeks. Some participants were given creatine, and some were given a placebo. Both groups were put through an exercise routine. The group that was given creatine improved their strength at a much quicker rate than the group that was given a placebo.
Joint Health is Supported
Some research has shown that creatine may help support joint health- especially in older individuals. Some physicians have even started prescribing creatine to their patients who are at an increased risk of injury or death from a fall. In 2016, researchers gave older adults a creatine supplement and hand them complete a resistance training program for a period of 12 weeks. At the end of this period, results were analyzed and it was shown that those who had taken creatine experienced an increase in overall strength and muscle mass.
Cardiovascular Health is Supported
There has also been some research into the link between creatine supplementation and cardiovascular health. In one study, patients were given a creatine supplement along with traditional therapy. These individuals showed more improvement than those who were given the placebo. This has led to some physicians prescribing creatine to patients to reduce cardiovascular disease risk and improve overall cardiovascular health.
Diabetes is Easier to Manage
Some research has shown that creatine can help keep blood glucose stable after eating a meal. This correlation is so strong that many diabetics are using creatine to maintain normal blood sugar levels. In one study, participants were divided into two groups. Both were given a high carb meal and then sent to work out. One group was given creatine and one was not. The group that was given the creatine were able to keep their blood glucose under control.
Cognitive Functioning is Improved
Many studies have found a link between cognitive functioning and creatine supplementation. In 2017, one study looked at patients with moderate concussions. They were given a creatine supplement due to its proven ability to maintain cellular energy and decrease neuronal damage. These patients were able to recover quickly.
Research has also been shown to improve cognitive functioning during challenging situations, such as lack of quality sleep, higher elevations, and more. If you add creatine to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to think clearly more often.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms are Reduced
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that affects your central nervous system and is due to nerve cell damage. This damage causes dopamine levels to decrease. It is a progressive disorder that gets worse over time. However, creatine may help.
Some studies have indicated creatine provides neuroprotective effects that can help improve symptoms of neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s diseases. In one study, patients with Parkinson’s were given a creatine supplement and asked to complete a resistance training program. The creatine improved their results.
As we have mentioned, creatine supplementation increases phosphocreatine levels, which reduces ATP depletion. This creates neuroprotective results. Some research indicates that pairing CoQ10 with creatine can help with the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Other Neurological Conditions are Improved
Experts have indicated that one of the major contributors to neurological issues is reduced phosphocreatine levels in the body. Due to the fact that creatine has been proven to boost these levels, it is believed that it may help delay progression of neurological issues including:
There is also some research indicating that patients with ALS could benefit from using creatine. While it’s true that we need more research- there is some indication that creatine is helpful for treating a variety of neurological conditions when used in conjunction with traditional medicine.
Depressive Symptoms Reduced
Statistics show that over 250 million people across the world are affected by depression, which is a mood disorder. Some research indicates that creatine may be able to relieve some of the symptoms associated with depression.
One study involved females prescribed methamphetamine to treat depression. These females also had decreased phosphocreatine levels. They were given creatine along with their prescribed medications and, within 2 weeks after beginning creatine supplementation, symptoms were improved.
Another study involved patients with unipolar depression and creatine supplementation effectively improved those symptoms as well. That being said, for patients with bipolar depression, creatine was shown to trigger mania episodes.
As you can tell from this list, there are lots of other health benefits associated with creatine- and this is not an exhaustive list. Research is ongoing and more benefits are being discovered all the time. With all of these potential benefits and more, it just makes sense to add creatine to your routine.
What are the Potential Side Effects Related to Creatine Supplementation?
When you are investigating a supplement to consider adding it to your routine, you can’t just look at the benefits. While it’s true that the benefits are great, we must also consider the potential side effects/risks associated with creatine.
Research does indicate that, for healthy adults, creatine is safe and effective- even for long term use. There have not been any significant side effects reported by research participants.
The primary side effect is increased lean body mass. This does typically mean that you’ll see the numbers on the scale go up. However, it is critical that you understand muscle weighs more than fat, so though the scale is creeping up, it’s really not a major issue.
We do have a major caveat though: individuals who have been diagnosed with liver and/or kidney disease or those who have been diagnosed with hypertension may notice some negative effects. Additionally, the elderly could be at an increased risk of damaging their kidneys when using creatine. Additionally, if you’re on any prescription medications, you’ll want to discuss creatine use with your physician.
Foods/Nutrients to Pair with Creatine Supplementation
Research indicates that some foods and nutrients have the ability to boost the effectiveness of creatine. Below, we’ll explore some of the nutrients that experts recommend using when you are supplementing with creatine.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Research shows that alpha lipoic acid, also referred to as ALA, pairs well with creatine and improves the absorption of creatine. This is an antioxidant that is naturally produced in your body and is also found in certain foods. Your body uses this to break down carbs and make energy.
When beta-alanine is used along with creatine, strength and endurance are both improved significantly. In fact, competitive athletes refer to beta-alanine as the “creatine of the endurance world”. When you take both of these together, you can improve creatine loading response by up to 4 weeks.
This one is actually a bit tricky. The relationship between creatine and caffeine is complicated. They don’t mix well, so they should not be taken together- this can actually have a negative effect on your muscles. If you want to maximize the effect of both creatine and caffeine, you’ll want to limit how much caffeine you ingest and to use them at different times during your workout. For example, creatine should be taken two to two-and-a-half hours prior to a workout. Caffeine should be consumed about 15 minutes prior to your workout.
If you are following the loading/maintenance phases of creatine consumption, you will want to make sure that you add protein and carbs to the list during the loading phase. This way, you can be sure that both carbs and creatine are being consistently used during the nutrient window following a workout. Following strength training, you need to make sure that you are consuming carbs and protein.
Experts say that if you want to build muscle and/or improve overall athletic performance, you need to be adding leucine to your routine. When you are in the best position to improve muscle mass, your mTOR pathways sends out a signal to the rest of your body. This means that you need to have a diet that is packed with protein and energy. When your body has what it needs, it can communicate so much better.
If you want to get the most from your workouts, you need creatine. This is a chemical that is produced in your body and also obtained through dietary sources, including through supplementation. Hopefully in this article you’ve learned more about creatine- what it is and what it does- along with benefits and risks. I hope this this review of the the top 5 best creatine products on the market today helps your buying decision.
ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.