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Creatine is a natural substance found in the body, therefore, is not classified as a drug. It is legal to use in the US and most other countries as it is considered a food supplement. Many athletes who want to remain legal and yet gain muscle bulk and energy, use creatine instead of steroids.
Creatine is made up of three different amino acids – Arginine, Glycine and Methionine. These are produced in the kidneys and pancreas. The liver takes these three and combines them into creatine. A person can also utilize more creatine by adding certain foods to their diet such as fish and beef. However, one could never eat enough of these alone to make a noticeable difference in the body.
Creatine is used by most athletes today because it does basically three things. First of all, it pulls fluid into the muscles, thus hydrating the muscles. The more you workout, the more you sweat, the more dehydrated your muscles become. Simply put, creatine keeps the muscles wet and working. Secondly, creatine enhances actual muscle growth, making muscle fibers bigger and stronger. Thirdly, creatine helps reserve and increase muscle energy by regenerating the muscles’ ultimate energy source, ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The result is that you can workout longer, with greater energy output and quicker reflexes.
In double blind placebo studies, creatine has been proven to increase energy levels, resulting in increased strength, endurance levels, and recovery rates. Another benefit of creatine was discovered as well: creatine accelerates fat loss, while building lean body mass! Muscle mass can be significantly increased in as little as two weeks.
Strenuous athletic workouts dehydrate the body, tire the muscles and quickly deplete energy levels. Creatine overcomes all of these hindrances to fitness and bodybuilding by keep the muscles hydrated, building muscle size and giving that extra energy needed for a longer workout or a demanding athletic event. The result is a longer more energetic workout resulting in a bigger, stronger body with greater stamina and endurance. Now you know why athletes use this on a regular basis.
At this time, clinical studies have not revealed any side effects of using a creatine supplement. The muscles naturally contain 3.5 to 4 grams of creatine per kilogram of muscle. The muscles can hold up to 5 grams of creatine. Thus, you can increase your available creatine 25 – 30% by taking an additive. By taking 5 grams of creatine daily you are giving your body the maximum amount it can store and actually utilize. Any more than this will be excreted as waste.
Most supplement companies recommend a procedure called loading where you take in about 20 – 30 grams per day for the first week of so. This is supposed to saturate your muscles with creatine. Although this may allow you to see results a little more quickly, it is not absolutely necessary. Another good idea is to cycle the creatine, that is, to take the creatine for a month and then quit for a week and repeat. The theory behind this is that if you are taking in sufficient amounts of creatine, then the body might decide to quit making it naturally. This is a good idea to implement with all supplements as your body can either quit making the natural product or become immune to its effects. Since creatine has not really been on the market long enough to know it long use effect, it is better to stay on the safe side.