Creatine is a molecule comprised of three amino acids; glycine, methionine and arginine. It is produced in the body and used to produce energy, ATP – Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, to support cellular function.
Creatine is naturally produced in the body and is also found in high protein foods such as red meat, poultry, eggs and fish. It is a natural compound, not a lab synthesized compound!
When creatine enters or is produced by the body, it binds with a phosphate molecule to form creatine phosphate. ATP is the body’s energy source and it is responsible for almost every process that occurs within the body. When a phosphate group is hydrolyzed, energy in the form of heat is given off and this is used to perform whatever process is required, for example a muscle contracting. A phosphate has been lost and ATP is now ADP – Adenosine Di-Phosphate. ADP is pretty much useless to the body; this is where creatine comes in. Creatine replenishes the lost phosphate to reform ADP to ATP. By performing this function, creatine allows you to train harder for a sustained period of time.
One of creatine’s anabolic properties is that it hydrates muscle cells. When a muscle cell is hydrated, there is an increase in protein synthesis. If you’re looking to optimize your gains, then optimizing your muscle protein synthesis is vital and this is where creatine can provide an added benefit.
Creatine is one of, if not, the most researched supplement on the market. So far, there has been no reputable study showing that creatine has any dangerous side effects.
My recommendation for supplementing creatine would be to use a loading phase of 5 days at around 20g p/day in the form of creatine monohydrate. After the loading phase, use 3-5g daily as a maintenance dosage for the remainder. To get the full benefit, your muscle cells will need to be saturated with it, hence the loading phase. This ‘saturation’ can take up to 30 days depending on the individual if the small dosage (3-5g) is used; the loading phase is not essential but will just speed the saturation process up.