How Much Creatine Should You Take?

Feb 21, 2021 | Athletes' Corner, Nutrition

Written by Dr. Omair Ansar, MBBS, MSc
how much creatine should you take

You might have heard about creatine during discussion with your mates at the local Gym or at sports ground. In actual, creatine is among one of the well-known and commonly used sport supplements by athletes to boost performance and increase muscle mass.

Are you considering to start taking creatine supplements? Worrying about its side effects? Well, stay with us. This article explains everything you need to know about creatine, including but not limited to what is creatine, its functions, benefits, side effects as well as how much creatine should you take. 

WHAT IS CREATINE ?

Creatine is a natural amino acid compound in our body for energy needs. People often consider creatine as an anabolic steroid, but it’s a myth. As a matter of fact, creatine is an amino acid found in foods and in our body.

Most people get creatine through the consumption of red meat and seafood. For others like athletes, they tend to take creatine supplements to improve their sports performance as well as muscle mass.

Composition of Creatine 

Creatine is made naturally in our body with three amino acids, namely arginine, glycine and methionine. However, it is produced in small amounts only, roughly about 1% volume of the human blood.

As such, people usually source creatine in foods and supplements to further support exercise performance. Roughly speaking, a person needs between 1 and 3 grams of creatine per day. For athletes who train intensely may need around 5-10 grams of creatine a day according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Natural Creatine

Creatine is produced and found naturally in our body from amino acids. 95% of creatine is stored in the muscles in the form of phosphocreatine whereas 5% is found in kidneys, liver and the brain.

Creatine can also be obtained through incorporating diets rich in fish and meat. One pound of raw beef provides around 1-2 grams of creatine.

Synthetic Creatine

Creatine is widely available in supplements form. It is one of the most popular and common supplements found in sports nutrition supplements like sports drinks. Bodybuilders and athletes tend to take creatine to gain muscle, improve exercise performance and enhance strength.

One readily available and generally used creatine supplement is creatine monohydrate. It is affordable and is supported by various studies for its effectiveness and safety. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recently put forward that “There is no compelling scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects.

The typical dose of this supplement is 3-5 grams per day and studies have shown that the consumption of this supplement fosters strength gains by around 5-10% on average.

CREATINE SUPPLEMENTS IN THE MARKET

With a demand surge globally, more and more pharmaceutical companies have started manufacturing creatine. Below lists out various forms of creatine available in the market for consumer purchase:

1. Creatine Monohydrate: Most common and extensively studied form of creatine. It is generally considered effective and safe to consume. 

2. Creatine Ethyl Ester: Some studies do not recommend it due to its different uptake and absorption rates as compared to other forms.

3. Creatine Hydrochloride: Despite the advantage of superior solubility in water, this form of creatine still needs to be studied more to draw any conclusion.  

4. Buffered Creatine: There is limited research evidence specifying no differences between buffered creatine and creatine monohydrate in regards to the effectiveness and side effects, yet more research is needed. 

5. Liquid CreatineLittle research studies indicate that liquid forms are less effective than monohydrate powders as creatine might break down. The use of creatine supplements or in powder form is more recommended comparatively. 

6. Creatine Magnesium ChelateLimited studies shows that creatine magnesium chelate is an effective form of creatine, with similar effectiveness as creatine monohydrate. Yet, more information is still required.

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