Should I Try Creatine? This Is What You Need To Know

“Using creatine while weight training typically enhances strength gains by five to 15% in the first month, with no side effects,” says Dr. Kalman

Thinking about trying creatine? This is what you need to know: Think of creatine as muscle medicine – the extra strength formula.

When you supplement your diet with this amino acid, you spur the production of proteins your body uses to weave muscle fibres, says Dr Douglas Kalman, a sports nutritionist at Florida International University.

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“Using creatine while weight training typically enhances strength gains by five to 15% in the first month, with no side effects,” he says.

In fact, a landmark study from Belgium confirmed that daily use of creatine by healthy adults for as long as five years does not affect the kidneys. That said, people with diabetes or a kidney disorder should steer clear, since their already overworked organs may have trouble processing the extra fuel.

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You’ll see a bunch of different forms of creatine on your supplement store’s shelves. As for which type to buy, Kalman recommends sticking with classic creatine monohydrate – it’s as effective as newer formulas but less expensive. For the first month, take five grams a day, mixed into your post-workout recovery shake.

“Creatine monohydrate is the exact compound that more than 95 percent of the studies used, so why take a chance on another compound from a safety and effectiveness perspective?” says Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, professor of paediatrics and medicine and director of the neuromuscular and neurometabolic clinic at McMaster University Medical Center in Ontario.

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The first week you go on creatine, some experts recommend a “loading phase” of 20 grams a day for five to seven days. Afterward, go to 5 grams per day. On rest days, consume your five grams at any time. After the first month, drink five grams after training.

The fine print: See your doctor first if you have high blood pressure or diabetes. If you regularly take any prescription meds or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (which can tax the kidneys), if you’re over age 40 (since kidney function slowly declines after age 30), or if you have a history of kidney or liver disease.

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