Creatine

There are many CrossFit supplements in the market, but which ones are worth your investment?

Creatine began as a supplement for muscle gain and over the years it has been learned that its benefits go beyond that.

In this article we are going to learn all the benefits and risks of creatine supplementation and the best way to take it.

What is creatine?

Creatine is a natural compound that can be ingested especially in meat foods (meat and fish) and can also be produced in our body (kidney and liver) from the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine.

What foods have the most creatine?

Herring is the food with the highest % of creatine. However, its total amount is still low if we want to reach the same levels of creatine that are recommended to be taken as a supplement.

Another aspect that makes it difficult to obtain the recommended doses through food is that cooking food degrades the amount of creatine, further reducing the amount obtained.

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How does creatine work?

The body is able to synthesize a small amount of creatine per day, about 1 g, and the rest must be provided through diet such as meat and fish, in addition to supplementation.

Creatine is transported through our bloodstream and stored mainly in the muscles (up to 90%). It is stored in the form of phosphocreatine which is the main substrate that is used to the greatest extent in the first seconds of intense physical activity, such as sprinting or weight lifting.

By increasing these reserves, we can extend the intense activity a little longer.

Benefits of creatine supplementation

Muscle gain

The studies yield an average of 1.5-3 kg of muscle gain in men over a 3 month period. The figure will never be exact, since it depends on variables such as the type of sport, the genetics of each person...

Women's earnings were reduced by half.

Fluid retention

Helps to see the muscle larger and promotes protein synthesis. 

May result in a 1-2kg increase in body weight in the first few weeks of creatine supplementation.

Improved performance

Increases strength between 5-15% (study).

Promotes post-workout muscle recovery

This can be useful in endurance sports, as explained in (this analysis).

Other benefits

  • It is a very effective supplement for slowing down the effect of muscle loss among senior citizens (study).
  • Helps to maintain the bone density.
  • Since the brain also contains a store of creatine, improvements in creatine cognitive response. Creatine has a neuroprotective role and can mitigate the symptoms of depression. 
  • At the metabolic level, it helps glucose regulation and fatty liver condition.

In general, the benefits are even greater in people whose creatine starting point was low, such as vegans.

Why take creatine?

With all the benefits demonstrated by a large body of scientific evidencecreatine is also safe, as it has no associated risks, and accessible because it is inexpensive.

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Creatine for women

Creatine has a bad reputation especially in the female sector mainly because of the fluid retention that is reported. Something that can be seen as negative especially in the female sector.

Men and women have much more in common than what differentiates them when it comes to training and eating (and of course supplements as well).

Despite the potential weight gain, creatine is still a very effective supplement with great benefits and is recommended for both men and women..

Risks of creatine supplement consumption

Kidney damage

The creatine released when creating energy is expelled as creatinine and is not reused. This causes blood levels to rise and is what originally led to the belief that it could damage the kidneys.

Subsequent studies have tested much higher doses than recommended and no renal damage has been observed.

Produces baldness

This is another of the most frequent doubts. In fact, baldness has a very important genetic component and it is a little can be affected by creatine intake or any other external element.

Cross-contamination

The main risk is that the supplement has been contaminated with other substances. To ensure the quality of the product there is the seal creapure that endorses its quality. It is worth paying a little more for creatine with this label.

How to take creatine?

Creatine works by accumulation so that it does not matter what time of the day you choose to take it. Some people add it in their post-workout shake along with whey protein.

  • Creatine saturation is achieved in 3-4 weeks.
  • It is recommended to consume about 5 g per dayor, to be more precise, multiply your weight in kg times 0.08.
  • On rest days you can reduce the dose or skip the dose.

Is a loading phase recommended?

The loading phase includes an intake of 20-25 g per day in several doses for one week. After this week, the maintenance dosage is changed to the maintenance dose.

Some people recommend a first initial phase of accumulation to get to see the benefits earlier, but it is likely that with higher doses gastrointestinal discomfort is experienced. 

Unless it is urgent to improve creatine levels, initial loading is discouraged to avoid these intestinal discomforts.

When to rest?

Like all supplements it is okay to stop taking them. every six months for a few days.

An easier way to do this is to rest during the summer and Christmas vacations.

Which creatine to take?

Creatine monohydrate is the one that shows the best absorption and the most economical, so it is not worth paying more for supposedly improved versions.

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If you choose the unflavored version you will avoid flavorings and sweeteners. It has no unpleasant taste, with a little water it is easy to drink.

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