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Creatine's remarkable ability to boost energy where and when it's needed has made it a hugely popular sports supplement for decades. And while it's primarily used by athletes and bodybuilders who want to improve performance, build muscle, and train harder, studies have shown that creatine can have health benefits outside of the gym too. Thinking of adding a creatine supplement to your health and fitness regime? Find out more about this muscle-fueling favorite and why Crea-8 Pure Creatine Monohydrate by EHPlabs is the best on the market.
Essentially, creatine is an amino acid — a protein-building compound — that helps our bodies produce energy rapidly and also helps our muscles get bigger and stronger. After we eat protein, our bodies produce this performance-boosting compound naturally from the amino acids glycine and arginine. Creatine is made in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. In a healthy adult, the body can produce about 1g of creatine per day, and you can boost these stores with creatine supplements (1). Approximately 95% of creatine is found in the skeletal muscles and the rest is stored in the brain. In the muscle, creatine is converted into creatine phosphate, which is used to create an organic compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is what gives our cells the energy needed to perform a variety of vital functions. In particular, it's needed to fuel short bursts of intensive exercise. Essentially, the more ATP stored in our cells, the better the workout.
Most of the creatine used by our muscle cells comes from our diet. And because our cells use it continually, our creatine stores need to be replenished daily. Most research recommends that an active person should aim to consume between 1 and 3 grams of creatine per day. Foods that naturally contain high amounts of creatine include red meat, fish, and salmon. However, if you don't eat meat or animal products, you might want to consider getting your creatine in supplement form to hit this target.
Even if you do consume creatine from food, a creatine supplement can have a number of benefits — particularly for those who want to boost sports performance, gain muscle or increase strength. In fact, studies have shown that supplementation can increase the amount of creatine in our muscles by up to 40% (2).
Used to boost athletic performance and aid recovery for over 30 years, creatine powder is one of the most popular — and well-researched — supplements in the sporting and bodybuilding world today. Creatine phosphate in particular has been shown to have excellent benefits for your anaerobic energy system — making this supplement a great way of enhancing performance across a range of high-intensity sports, from sprinting to weight lifting. Whether you want to fuel your muscles through a heavy HIIT session or quickly increase muscle mass, creatine monohydrate can help you do it all.
Studies have shown that short-term creatine supplementation can boost max power during short, intense bursts of exercise (3). The best creatine supplements boost the body's production of phosphocreatine, which is needed to create the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is what gives our cells the energy they need to perform various functions. During an intense workout, for example, the ATP in our muscle cells gets used up within the first few seconds. That's why creatine is so important for ensuring you have enough energy to keep you powered through quick bursts of exercise. Research shows that it can be helpful for boosting performance in HIIT, sprinting and weightlifting in particular(4).
Studies have shown that combining strength and resistance training with creatine supplements can help increase muscle mass in both amateur and professional athletes (5). In particular, one study found a 5% increase in strength for bench presses and other chest exercises, and an 8% increase for leg exercises such as squats, in those who took creatine supplements. (6)(7) In the short term, creatine increases mass by drawing water into the muscles. However, creatine powder has been proven to have long-term benefits for muscle growth too — studies have shown that creatine also supports the growth of muscle fiber by activating the relevant biological pathways (8).
Muscle Tissue Repair
In combination with strength training, dietary creatine monohydrate supplementation has been proven to activate our skeletal muscle satellite cells (9). These satellite cells are able to fuse to existing muscle fibers and to form new fibers — essentially helping to promote regeneration of any muscle tissue damaged by exercise. In addition, research has found that even short-term use of creatine monohydrate supplements may help to reduce protein breakdown in muscles (10).
Research has shown that after creatine loading (consuming a larger dose in the first week), supplementation can improve performance throughout high-intensity exercises by between 10 and 20 percent (11) .
In addition to the athletic and sports performance advantages mentioned above, several studies suggest that creatine monohydrate supplements may have a range of additional health benefits:
- One review concluded that creatine may be beneficial in improving short-term memory and intelligence (12).
- Research suggests that when combined with aerobic exercise, creatine supplementation supports healthy blood sugar levels (13).
- Creatine has antioxidant properties and research has shown that it can assist with minimizing age-related damage. (14)
- Creatine supplementation may also be helpful in boosting mood and in helping to combat mental fatigue. (15)
- Creatine monohydrate supplements may be beneficial in supporting one-carbon and fatty acid metabolism. (16)
- Creatine may even have anti-aging benefits when applied topically to aging skin. (17)
There are several types of creatine supplements, which may make choosing the best creatine powder on the market confusing. Here's a brief overview of the most common types available:
Creatine monohydrate is probably the most popular — and extensively researched — type of creatine supplement available today. It's made up of a creatine molecule and a water molecule and is about 90% creatine by weight. The creatine molecule is a combination of three different amino acids: methionine, arginine, and glycine.
The EHPlabs CREA-8 supplement, for example, is made of 100% pharmaceutical grade pure creatine monohydrate and delivers 5 grams per serve. Plus, this creatine powder has been formulated without fillers and is HPLC-tested for efficient absorption into the bloodstream.
When the water molecule in creatine monohydrate is removed, it becomes creatine anhydrous. Although creatine anhydrous is 100% pure creatine, research has shown that our bodies absorb creatine best when we can get it in a highly water-soluble form. (18). Consequently, creatine anhydrous is thought to be no more effective than creatine monohydrate in boosting strength and performance.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine ethyl ester is more easily absorbed than creatine monohydrate. However, research on this form of creatine is limited and one study has also shown that it isn't as effective at increasing the creatine content in the muscles as creatine monohydrate powder (19).
Other creatine supplements on the market typically mix creatine with other compounds such as citric acid, magnesium, alkaline powder, malic acid, or hydrochloride. These include creatine hydrochloride, liquid creatine, buffered creatine, and creatine magnesium chelate. Scientific testing for these newer forms of creatine supplements is minimal, however, and limited research has also been done to determine their effectiveness.
Overall, creatine monohydrate is the best creatine supplement. This form of creatine is backed by extensive research, and multiple studies support its effectiveness. Creatine monohydrate has also been safely used for over three decades by sportsmen and women across the globe. When choosing a particular brand of creatine monohydrate, try to avoid formulas that contain artificial sweeteners, additives, colors, and flavors. Some products may also have fillers and binders added that can cause digestive issues and allergies. Instead, opt for a creatine monohydrate supplement that's made from 100% pure creatine monohydrate only, such as EHPlabs’ CREA-8.
EHPlabs CREA-8 is a high-quality, German-grade creatine monohydrate powder that's trusted by millions worldwide. This 100% pure nutritional supplement has been formulated by a team of scientists who are dedicated to helping people maximize their physical performance and recovery. It combines three amino acids – glycine, arginine, and methionine — to help build anaerobic strength and increase muscle mass.
Here's what CREA-8 could do for you:
- Promote muscle hydration and lean muscle growth.
- Boost performance during high-intensity workouts.
- Help to reduce both mental and physical fatigue.
- Assist with post-workout muscle and tissue recovery.
EHPlabs CREA-8 is high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) tested too. That means the creatine has been processed through an HPLC machine in order to break down creatine monohydrate into the smallest possible molecules. The result is a pharmaceutical-grade creatine supplement that can be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly and efficiently.
Put very simply, creatine can be described as an energy source for our muscles. Our muscle cells need creatine to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is used to fuel all kinds of cellular functions. ATP gets used up fast during high-intensity exercise or heavy lifting, which is why creatine supplementation is a popular way of ensuring our muscles always have the energy to keep on going through a workout.
Creatine monohydrate supplements are typically used by athletes to increase performance, maximize strength and minimize muscle damage and risk of injury during a workout. Increasing the creatine phosphate content in your cells can help: Boost energy production and optimize your metabolism (20).
- Enhance muscle mass growth, both in the short term and long term (21), (22).
- Delay the onset of fatigue during spurts of high-intensity exercise (23).
- Improve muscle performance during high-intensity exercise (24).
- Improve musculoskeletal health (25).
- Reduce mental fatigue (26). In addition, research has also shown that increased levels of creatine may support consistency in dopamine levels and help to boost your mood (27).
Our muscles use creatine up quickly as we burn energy during intense bursts of exercise. And when our creatine stores become depleted, our bodies can't make as much of the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is an important compound that provides energy to a range of cells, including muscle cells. Consequently, when we run out of ATP, we begin to feel tired. That's why people often take creatine supplements — to help them combat fatigue or boost athletic performance and endurance when they need it most, such as during short spurts of intense exercise.
Several factors will determine how much creatine you actually need. These include your hormone levels, how frequently you exercise, the type of exercise you do, and the amount of muscle mass you have to begin with. In general, however, most active adults should aim to get between 1 and 3 grams of creatine per day.
Include as many natural sources of creatine in your diet as possible. Creatine supplements are also an excellent way of boosting your intake and have been shown to be safe in over 500 clinical studies. And even if you do consume the right foods, studies have shown that you can still benefit greatly from creatine supplements (28) .
By pulling water into your muscle cells, creatine helps to keep them hydrated and energized. That's why you should always take your creatine supplement with a glass of water and make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
For maximum effectiveness, remember to load your creatine dosage as well so that the creatine levels in your muscles reach optimal levels rapidly, and then stay there consistently. That means starting on a higher dose of creatine for the first week, then reducing your intake thereafter.
You can take your creatine supplement at any time of day. However, your body is most receptive to creatine supplementation after exercise. So to encourage lean muscle growth and boost recovery, take a creatine supplement such as EHPlabs CREA-8 immediately after your workout.
When it comes to creatine, however, consistency is more important than timing. To get the most out of your creatine supplement, take the recommended dose at regular intervals and try not to miss a day. This will ensure your muscles are continuously getting enough creatine monohydrate, which will help keep muscle hydration levels at their peak and promote cell volumization and endurance in return.
CREA-8 can be consumed on its own with just water or mixed with your post-workout protein shake (try it with the OxyWhey Lean Wellness Protein). Keep in mind that creatine powder also needs a 1-week loading phase for optimal effectiveness. We recommend starting with 10 grams of CREA-8 twice daily, both before and after your workout, for the first week. This will allow you to perform and recover at your best in the weeks that follow, even at a reduced dosage.
The amount of creatine you need will depend on your muscle mass and how much exercise you do. However, studies show that the average person should be aiming to replenish between 1-3 grams of creatine each day. Keep in mind that a loading phase of 1 week is also required for maximum effectiveness (29).
The International Society of Sports Nutrition, for example, recommends consuming 0.3g per kg body weight four times a day for the first week, followed by 3-5g/day after (30) .
No. Sometimes creatine powder is confused as an anabolic steroid because both can increase muscle mass. However, the two are in no way linked. Steroids are synthetic drugs that have been manufactured to resemble certain hormones. Anabolic steroids are man-made versions of the hormone testosterone and are commonly used to stimulate muscle tissue to grow stronger and larger. Creatine, on the other hand, is a tripeptide compound that's produced naturally in the body. It's legal and does not seek to influence or resemble hormones the way steroids do.
Creatine monohydrate is considered safe to consume by healthy individuals in the recommended doses. Our bodies make the compound naturally, and as a sports and bodybuilding supplement, it's been used and well researched for over 30 years. In fact, it's one of the most tested supplements in the world and has an excellent safety profile too (31).
A recent study conducted by the International Society of Sports Nutrition found no scientific evidence that creatine monohydrate had any harmful effects on healthy individuals who took the supplement in either the long or short-term. Moreover, a review by the Society concluded that "creatine monohydrate supplementation is not only safe but possibly beneficial in regard to preventing injury and/or management of select medical conditions when taken within recommended guidelines".
If you're pregnant or have any underlying health conditions, however, it's always best to talk to your doctor first before taking any health supplement (32).
Find out more about Creatine Supplements and our CREA-8 Creatine Monohydrate.