Creatine is a very popular supplement, used by athletes and bodybuilders. A supplementation that includes creatine allows more muscle contractions, more repetitions, endurance and a more intense workout with more strength and muscle gains. It can also increase strength and improve your performance, as well as helping to build lean muscle mass. Read more about the benefits of using creatine for BJJ.
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Creatine for BJJ – Why should you take this supplement?
What is Creatine?
This substance is found naturally in our muscle cells, produced in the liver and kidneys. It’s not a vitamin nor a mineral, nor a steroid. It can be found in foods such as meat, eggs and fish. Creatine is transported through the blood to places with high energy needs, such as the skeletal muscle and the brain.
By increasing the muscle’s ability to form ATP (a molecule that’s considered the energy unit in our body), it allows us to produce energy quickly and to support cell function and muscle contraction for a longer period of time.
What are the benefits of Creatine?
The use of creatine as a supplement has been recognized by the scientific community as a key factor in increasing energy production and lean mass in athletes. There are more than 200 studies about creatine and its effectiveness is more than proven. Its use is extremely safe for most people and it offers a variety of health benefits, such as the following ones.
When transported to the muscles, creatine is used to provide muscle fibers with immediate energy. A supplementation that includes creatine allows more muscle contractions, more repetitions, endurance and a more intense workout with more strength and muscle gains. Studies show a 12%-20% strength increase and a 12%-26% power increase.
Studies show that individuals who take creatine supplementation have an increase in lean mass by about 2.2% and, consequently, an increase of total body mass and body volume, as well as a decrease of 3.2% in body fat. A study in women found up a 60% increase in lean mass as compared to a group without supplementation.
After a resistance training, which can be excessively tiring, creatine helps to reduce muscle cell damage and inflammation, promoting a complete recovery.
Although almost all studies suggest that adequate creatine supplementation increases body weight by approximately 1-2 kg, we cannot forget that the muscle is 73% water and, with creatine supplementation, there will be an increase in water retention within the cells, especially at an early stage.
It has been found that creatine works as a neuroprotective substance, protecting and enhancing the survival of nerve cells. Studies show that creatine is essential to brain function, helping to increase the ability to survive the metabolic and physical trauma associated with these conditions, and to improve brain function, specifically in short-term memory and mental fatigue.
The effect of creatine in the neurological system is currently being studied as a possible therapeutic option for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer, epilepsy, amongst others.
In people that suffer from heart failure, creatine levels will be lower and therefore the muscular metabolic response to exercise will also be lower. This causes a big limitation in the day-to-day life of people with chronic heart failure, causing them to have less resistance and muscle strength and easily fatigue. With a supplementation with creatine, there is a slight increase of performance and anaerobic capacity.
It is proven that creatine may increase levels of the growth hormone, similar to the response that occurs when you exercise intensively. While it is true that creatine has anabolic properties in muscle, its influence on the growth hormone still needs to be better studied.
Types of creatine
Like any other supplement, there are many different forms of creatine available in the market, each one with different composition, solubility and effectiveness. Therefore, choosing the best type of creatine for your purpose may be essential. Even though the result and benefits are similar to all, the most popular and well-researched type is the creatine monohydrate.
How to take of creatine
As you may know, creatine is a supplement that has a “load” period (aka creatine loading), followed by a “maintenance” period and finally a “washout”. Therefore, there are different timings and ways to take creatine. During the loading phase, there will be a faster absorption and saturation of creatine in the muscles, which can have psychological benefits and be more motivating, since your strength levels will suddenly increase. However, there will be an increase in your body weight, which occurs mainly because of water retention caused by the creatine intake.
Although the doses recommended in older studies are quite high, recent studies show that lower doses of creatine are equally effective in order to rapidly increase muscle. People with lower creatine levels might benefit from a higher dose of 5-10 grams per day. In healthy individuals, 2-3 grams per day are usually enough.
As for the right timing for taking creatine, a recent study with 19 male bodybuilders indicates that post-workout supplementation on training days is the one with the greatest benefits. On rest days, timing is less important, and the taking can be done when it is more convenient for the person.
Several studies suggest that ingesting salt may be important for the transport of creatine. In fact, there are athletes that take creatine along with salt after their workout (since sodium levels are often lower after practice).
When taking creatine along with caffeine, the effect doesn’t seem to be significant in the absorption of creatine by the muscles, performance nor resistance, in comparison with the intake of creatine by itself. Reducing or even cutting your caffeine intake during the loading phase can be a good strategy to maintain hydration.
Adverse effects of using creatine
For several years, using creatine as a supplement was considered harmful. Fortunately, the multiple studies develop in the past few years have helped to discredit these claims. However, like any other substance, there are adverse effects that can happen when taking creatine in large quantities. For example, fluid retention seems to happen after taking creatine. Also, when taken without water, it’s likely to cause gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea, colic and diarrhea. Therefore, it’s advisable to take creatine with a glass of water and to stay well hydrated. Taking creatine along with a meal can also minimize these effects.
Creatine was a revolution for the world of sports. Over time, science has proven that creatine met all the requirements in order to be considered safe and an extremely important supplement if taken properly. Nowadays in one of the most used supplements, used by many athletes that want to maximize their muscle mass and performance potential.
The more creatine we have stored in our muscle cells, the easier it is for our body to produce ATP, which helps increase physical performance. Creatine helps athletes do more repetition, get faster sprints, and engage more energetically in any type of intense workout they do.
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