Creatine is an endogenous (made by the body) substance that is present in every human cell. It functions as an energy storehouse.
Creatine is best known for supplying energy for muscles during short, intense bursts of exercise, as are necessary for most (speed and power) sports. Since creatine may improve muscle mass, rather than muscle efficiency, it’s usually not taken by most endurance athletes. There are various theories about the use of an initial “loading period” (up to 20 grams per day for several days), but most experts agree on a smaller, daily maintenance dose, usually 2 to 5 grams per day.
Creatine is one of only two (caffeine) supplements documented to improve athletic performance. Several studies support that creatine improves performance of single or repetitive bouts of short-duration, high-intensity activity and/or exercise. Therefore, it may be most beneficial for athletes engaging in speed and power sports. There are a few studies that suggest that elite athletes may not benefit from creatine supplementation as much as lesser-trained individuals do.
When used in accordance with appropriate dosage guidelines, creatine appears to be safe and effective for most people. Individuals with existing kidney disease should not use creatine. The most commonly reported side effects of creatine are diarrhea and muscle cramping, which seem more likely to occur with higher levels of supplementation.
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