Creatine monohydrate is the most popular and the most preferred bodybuilding supplement.
It has been a subject of a hundreds of research and scientific studies and has proven to be the best at:
- Increasingstrength and performance. (1)
- Building muscles- gaining lean muscle mass. (2)
- Improving endurance (Anaerobic endurance). (3)
- Increases muscle recovery.
Additionally, creatine monohydrate is completely natural and safe to use, which makes it even more effective.
Consuming creatine monohydrate helps to improve body composition and enhance workout performance. It has several other health benefits that make it a recommended supplement not only for bodybuilding but also for overall health.
We are here going to focus on how Creatine Monohydrate helps in bodybuilding. Tighten up your seat belt!!! This is going to be an awesome journey.
What is Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine monohydrate is a compound formed of creatine and one molecule of water.
Note: Creatine is a natural organic acid produced in the body; it consists of three essential amino acids i.e. L-Arginine, L-Methionine and Glycine.
A human body produces creatine in a brief amount naturally i.e. 1-2gms, but we also absorb creatine from food sources, an average of 2-3gms. Protein based food sources like meat, chicken, eggs and fish are the best sources for creatine.
What does creatine monohydrate do?
Basically, creatine monohydrate helps to increase the creatine content in the body, but there is more to it-
The basic unit of energy in cell is ATP or the Adenosine Tri-phosphate. The ATP synthesizes itself in the body to produce energy. This means the more ATP is stored in the body; the more energy is produced, which enables the body to do more work. This is what we also learned in our School Days!!
Creatine here becomes a very essential ingredient for the formation of ATPs. (4)This is the reason, why creatine supplementation is used to increase muscle performance.
Studies show creatine, enhances the regeneration process in the cells.(5) It combines with the ADP or Adenosine Di-phosphate (by-product from ATP synthesis) to form more ATPs, which further increases muscle performance.
Our body is limited with the amount of creatine it can store in the cells, naturally.(6) Thus, once the creatine content in the cells is used up, the body turns towards glucose and fatty acids to produce more ATPs. This can burn muscle protein and lead to loss in lean muscle mass.
Research shows that creatine monohydrate supplements can increase the creatine storing capacity of the muscle cells by 10-20%.(7) This increases the energy available in the muscle cells, allowing it to do more work, which further enhances the anaerobic capacity, increases strength and endurance.
This is just where the benefits of Creatine Monohydrate begin…
5 Essential Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate for bodybuilding
Creatine monohydrate has become very popular among both athletes and bodybuilders. There are several benefits that it offers, one of which is increasing physical activity and performance.
Molecules present in creatine, significantly increase the rep-training performance by increasing the number of reps,till you feel the muscle fatigue. There are studies that prove the effectiveness of creatine monohydrate towards increasing endurance as well.
There are additional health benefits that make creatine monohydrate the most valuable supplement. Let’s take a look at 5 benefits of CrM towards bodybuilding-
1. Muscle Growth:
According to a study, it is found that creatine supplementation along with weight lifting is very effective for muscle growth. (7)
The study included 30 men divided into three groups, the first group was given creatine, second group was given placebo and the third group was given creatine and asked to do heavy weight lifting exercise. The result showed that the group that did heavy weight lifting and consumed creatine monohydrate supplement was able to lift comparatively heavier weights.
Another benefit of creatine is it increases the water retention capacity of the muscle cells. This results in cell “swelling” and helps in getting big muscles. Additionally, it helps in maintaining the nitrogen balance and stimulate large-scale gene expression that causes muscle hypertrophy. (8)
Two ways CrM benefits muscle growth:
- It increases the weight lifting performance, allowing you to lift heavier weights and do more reps. It directly plays a major role in building muscles.
- It increases the water retention capacity of the muscle cells, which benefits muscle growth in different ways.
2. Builds Strength:
Creatine monohydrate supplementation along with resistance training enhances muscle strength effectively. It helps in improving the results from resistance training or heavy weight lifting workouts.
There are multiple studies performed for the average increase in muscle strength for 1 rep-max.(9) The studies suggested that creatine monohydrate supplementation along with resistance workouts increased the muscle strength by 8%, as compared to other supplements.
It also suggested that people consuming creatine monohydrate, were able to lift 20% more of their one rep max. Where the one rep max for bench press was increased to 45%, the weight lifting performance was increased by 43%.
This makes creatine monohydrate the best supplement for building strength and getting stronger.
3. Increases Power:
Strength and power are two different features of bodybuilding. Where the strength is the amount of weight you can move or pick-up, power denotes your speed and how quickly you are able to move a given weight.
Creatine monohydrate increases the muscle contraction ability of the body. According to a study, creatine supplementation increases the power of weight lifters, when consumed for a long period of time. (10) Additionally, it increased the anaerobic performance of sprinters and swimmers, allowing them to put more power. (11)
Individuals that do not eat animal-based proteins (vegetarians) are more likely to see significant results from consuming creatine monohydrate supplements. They shall experience the highest benefits from CrM supplements. (12)
The most important food sources for creatine are meats, fish, chicken and eggs. Plant based diet, lacks the nutrient and hence, vegetarians have low creatine levels. Thus, the vegetarians benefit more from creatine monohydrate supplements.
4. Improves Endurance:
Apart from building strength and power, creatine monohydrate also helps in enhancing muscular endurance.
We have already mentioned studies in regards to how creatine supplementation increases the one rep max capacity.(13) It additionally, increases the number of reps performed with heavy weight lifting by 26%.
CrM supplementation reduces muscle fatigue; you are able to exercise more even during endurance training.
An extensive research shows that creatine supplementation reduced the effort put behind intense exercises. This increases the workout performance, as you are able to increase the intensity.
However, there are a very small section of people that are not able to experience the benefits. If the creatine content in your body is already high, you are less likely to notice any visible changes.
5. Muscle Recovery:
Creatine Monohydrate helps in enhancing the muscle recovery factors in the body. Although, there are no direct studies performed on this, there are alternative studies that prove the fact.
Research suggests that creatine reduces the muscle protein breakdown in the body during high intense training.(14) This reduces the time taken for muscle recovery.
Another study suggested that CrM supplementation reduced muscle damage and inflammation as well, which assists muscle recovery. (15)
How to consume Creatine Monohydrate for best results?
Here are the most preferred methods of CrM supplementation-
The Loading Protocol
Even after you learn the benefits of Creatine Monohydrate; it becomes very important to understand how to consume it.
“Loading protocol” is the most common form of creatine monohydrate supplementation. It involves a 5-7 days of loading period, where you consume 20-25gms of creatine per day, in 4-5 doses of 5gms per dose.
The loading method is very effective, as it increases the muscle creatine storing capacity to its max i.e. 160mmol/kg in a very short period of time.(16) It further increases the ATP production and the Phosphocreatine synthesis in the muscle cells.
After a week of loading phase, it has to be followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5gm creatine per day. This is essential to sustain the stored creatine in the muscles.
Creatine supplementation does increase body weight, as it increases the water retaining capacity of the muscle cells. However, there are certain researches that suggest muscle cell “swelling” caused due to fluid retention helps to maintain muscle mass. Thus, it is not recommended for athletes, for whom weight can be an issue.
Remember, increasing the CrM intake by more than 20-25gms per day is not going to offer you any additional benefits. According to an extensive research, increased intake gave no better results as compared to the traditional loading dosage.
Overloading might increase unnecessary urination and is a waste of money!!!
The Steady Approach
Following a steady approach somewhat gives the same results as the loading protocol.
However, even though the loading protocol is the best method to follow, the steady approach beats it in some areas.
The steady phase involves following a steadier approach of 5gm creatine per day for around 28days. This shall maximize the muscle creatine storing capacity to 160mmol/kg. The result with steady approach is similar to that of loading protocol, but it needs proper planning and execution.
There are researchesthat shows steady approach is comparatively better than the loading protocol.(17) People dealing with loading phase sometimes suffer from gastrointestinal stress, might benefit from the steady approach.
Another great benefit about following the steady approach is that it helps you to prevent unnecessary weight gains.
FAQs on Creatine Monohydrate Supplement
Can Creatine monohydrate be consumed for weight loss?
Creatine is not a fat burning supplement, but studies suggest it helps you to sustain muscles and gain strength while being in a calorie deficit diet. Thus, it does become a good weight loss supplement, except, it helps you to preserves muscles instead of burning fats.
Note: Calorie deficit diet is what you are recommended to follow, when you look to lose weight, with proper workout.
The perfect weight loss trick is to lose fats by keeping muscles intact. This means measuring your body composition and working accordingly. It shall help you to make out the best of your weight loss efforts.
Can women take the creatine monohydrate supplement?
Creatine monohydrate is found to be effective for both the genders.
Women looking to put some muscles, get leaner and have the perfect curvy body can benefit from creatine monohydrate.Women often fear of getting bulked up as men, after consuming such supplements. But, you must understand there are hormones that play an important role in muscle building.
The most essential muscle building hormone is Testosterone. Women have a very low amount of testosterone as compared to men. Be assured, it is going to take a whole lot of time for women to get bulked up simply by taking CrM and working out with heavy weights.
Is it beneficial to take caffeine and Creatine monohydrate together?
There are different studies performed regarding this, but they are still not conclusive enough to be effective.
A research was conducted with 12 active men to check their high-intensity sprinting performance. It was determined after caffeine and creatine monohydrate consumption, high intensity sprinting performance increased significantly.
Another study for the same determined that consuming creatine and caffeine might improve strength and sprinting performance, but caffeine does reduce the ergogenic effects (performance enhancing effects) of creatine. There are more studies needed on its combined effect.
Keeping this in mind, it is recommended to consume creatine and caffeine separately to get the benefits from both.
How long do you need to consume Creatine Monohydrate?
We have discussed about the loading period for creatine supplement in this article. It takes around a week for the creatine stores in the muscle cells to build up, once you start the supplementation. And even when you stop, it takes some time to get back to the normal levels.
A research suggest, stopping the creatine supplementation had no major effect in the muscle strength, endurance or muscle mass, even after 12 weeks of not taking the supplements.
However, on an average, if you are going for regular supplementation, it is recommended to have 5gms of creatine per day. It shall help you to increase the creatine levels in your body and even sustain it for a longer period.
Does every one see the same benefits from Creatine Monohydrate supplements?
There are certain sections of people that do not benefit from the creatine monohydrate supplementation. The only reason behind this is because maybe they are already getting enough of it from their diet.
If you are not experiencing significant changes in your body, it might be because either your body is not absorbing the creatine or you are not working out enough.
You are less likely to see the benefits from the supplements, if you have just begun taking it, SO Wait for it!!!
There are other factors that influence the effects of creatine such as improper sleep, etc. In order to see the benefits of creatine, it is going to take at least 28days, before seeing significant results.
Additionally, if your body has already reached the ultimate level of muscle growth, genetically possible, you are less likely to see major changes from creatine supplementation.
Creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and the most effective creatine supplement available in the market. It is also the most researched supplement of creatine, readily available and is truly the best option. It is especially recommended for individuals doing weightlifting and athletes to increase performance.
There are other versions of creatine supplements available in the market trying to compete with creatine monohydrate.
Several manufacturers have tried to make modifications to increase the benefits of creatine monohydrate in different ways. Although, these were not able to show superior benefits comparatively, they still have become popular.
Check out other popular creatine supplements that you can buy…