Creatine is an amino acid-derived molecule primarily found in skeletal muscles like your biceps. It’s used as a supplement to enhance physical performance. It also increases lean body mass without promoting fat gain. That’s right.
So, how do you use it?
A loading protocol of 20 grams per day for a week is recommended for new users, while a maintenance dose of 5 grams per day suffices for regular users. This can produce significant increases in strength. Powerlifters like me use it to increase max effort lifts by 2-3% which can be the difference between winning and losing when I’m competing.
Creatine may also protect the brain of those with traumatic brain injuries, which I deal with frequently in my neurosurgical practice.
Now I want to talk briefly about some of the myths surrounding creatine. And I’m just going to debunk them, one by one. First: Creatine is bad for your kidneys. That’s wrong. There are no data supporting this. And I otherwise would have been dead thirty years ago. Number two: Newer creatine supplements with fancy names are better than creatine monohydrate. Myth. This is a sales tactic. Next: Creatine NEEDS to be loaded for weeks before seeing an effect. Nope. And while it may take several weeks of daily creatine use to saturate muscle stores and get maximal benefit, the effects will be apparent after several small doses of 5g daily, if you choose not to do the loading protocol which simply saturates the muscle stores quicker. Lastly, creatine is dangerous. Absolutely not. Creatine is one of the most widely used and studied supplements. Its safety profile is excellent if you’re sticking with standard doses of 5g. As always, speak with your doctor prior to using any supplements. And remember, whether in or out of the gym, safety comes first.