What Is Creatine?
What Does It Do?
How Does It Work?
Author’s note: When I began my journey to learn about creatine I began the same way that most of you did, with Google. The next thing I did was visit a local gym. I asked around and several people suggested that I speak with Ben Anderson. Ben is an amature bodybuilder and a source of all kinds of fitness information. These are my notes from my first interview with Ben where I ask, “what is creatine,” and, “how does it work.” I later interviewed him about how to use it, and I will post that interview in the near future. -- Bobby
Update: My second interview with Bobby is now posted.
Bobby: Thanks for meeting with me. I have been looking forward to learning from you about Creatine.
Ben: Hey, it’s nice to meet you man, glad I can help.
Bobby: So I am just getting started. To begin with, what is creatine?
Ben: Creatine is a nutrient naturally produced within the human body. It makes up about 1% of human blood and is essential to supplying energy to the muscles.
Bobby: So, it’s like a vitamin?
Ben: Kindof. Creatine can be found in certain foods, especially meats. However, your body produces as much as you need as long as you are healthy and not athletic. That is different from most vitamins, which aren’t made in the body.
Bobby: So, if my body make creatine, then why do I need to take it?
Ben: Well, most people don’t need to take creatine for exactly that reason, but once you start working out things change a little.
Bobby: So, how does creatine work if I am working out?
Ben: Some of your body's creatine is stored in your muscle cells. When you work out, the creatine in the cells gets used up. When that happens your muscle hits a limit and it just can’t perform as well. Taking creatine as a supplement can help your cells stay supplied and give you an extra burst of strength or speed. It also helps your cells recover more quickly after the workout.
Bobby: Is creatine a scam? I have read a few articles that suggest creatine doesn’t work at all.
Ben: There are a lot of exaggerated claims out there about the supposed miracles of creatine. It isn’t a steroid and it won’t make your muscles grow in the long term just by taking it. As a result, some people have rejected creatine entirely. However, creatine isn’t a scam. It is a real chemical that is necessary for your muscles to work properly.
Bobby: So, what does creatine do for me, in the long term?
Ben: Creatine can help you push your muscles harder than you would be able to without it. And that extra workout will make your muscles grow more, along with the increased metabolism and fat reduction that come from increased muscle mass. But remember, it's the workout that will build your muscles, not the creatine itself.
Bobby: The creatine will just help me do the workout?
Bobby: Great, I understand that there are different types of creatine. Can you tell me about that?
Ben: Sure, There are several different chemical versions of creatine. The most common are creatine monohydrate, creatine hydrochloride, creatine ethyl ester, and kre-alkalyn creatine. Each of these reacts a little differently with your body. They absorb at different rates and are more or less likely to cause stomach irritation. But, they all pretty much do the same thing.
Bobby: What forms of creatine are there? Is it a pill?
Ben: Most commonly it is taken as a powder that you mix with water or juice. It can also be in a pill. Rarely I have seen people with a liquid serum, but that is expensive and so it isn’t very common.
Bobby: So what is the best form of creatine?
Ben: That is purely a matter of choice, I personally use a powder, because it is the least expensive.
Bobby: Sorry, I meant to ask what is the best type of creatine?
Ben: I take creatine monohydrate, but really what is best varies from person to person. You should try different types or even blends and use what works best.
Bobby: Thanks Ben, I need to absorb all of this information. Can I come back if I have more questions later?
Ben: You bet, and let me know how it goes.