What You Should Know About Creatine Supplements

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in many foods, especially seafood and red meat. In the body, it’s stored as phosphocreatine in your muscles to provide you with energy when you exercise. It’s also used to treat certain brain disorders, neuromuscular conditions and congestive heart failure.

Supplements containing creatine are widely available over-the-counter at vitamin, drug and grocery stores and online. They are usually taken orally to increase athletic performance and muscle mass.

The most common form of creatine is creatine monohydrate, and research shows it can benefit athletes who are training for short-duration, high-intensity resistance exercises such as weightlifting and cycling. Other forms of the supplement have not shown a similar effect.

How to Use Creatine:

The typical loading dose of oral creatine is 5 g of supplemental creatine monohydrate four times daily for 2 to 5 days. After that, the dosage is generally 2 g of supplemental creatine monohydrate per day.

Taking more than the recommended amount of best creatine supplements monohydrate may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, take the supplement only under the supervision of a medical professional.

Doses of creatine supplements are safe for most people. However, if you have kidney disease or are taking medication that affects your kidneys, it’s best to avoid these substances and talk with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements.

Creatine can interact with some medications and cause side effects. For example, it’s not advised to take it with cyclosporine or probenecid, which both can increase the risk of developing kidney damage. You should also avoid taking creatine with any nephrotoxic drug, such as a diuretic or antacid.

What to Avoid:

Some people who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid taking supplemental creatine because it can harm an unborn baby. You should also avoid taking supplemental creatine if you have any type of a mental illness, such as bipolar disorder.

What to Eat:

It’s important to consume a variety of foods when taking supplemental creatine. Fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods can help boost the absorption of this supplement. It’s a good idea to drink plenty of water during and after supplementation to prevent dehydration.

The most effective way to take a creatine supplement is to add it to your normal diet. You’ll get the most benefits from consuming the supplement with a meal or a snack.

You should avoid taking supplemental creatine with any type of food that has caffeine in it. Coffee, tea and soda can interfere with the absorption of this nutrient.

Adding creatine to your diet can reduce blood levels of homocysteine, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Oral creatine may be helpful in reducing plasma homocysteine levels in patients with certain types of kidney disease, such as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.

Increasing the amount of creatine in your diet can also improve your ability to work out and train harder. It’s a great addition to your fitness routine when you want to build more lean muscle mass.