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What Does Creatine Do?

Chances are, you’ve heard about creatine.

Maybe you’ve overheard weightlifters at the gym talking about creatine, or maybe your favorite fitness influencer made a post talking about creatine’s role in his or her routine. There’s no denying creatine is one of the most popular (or perhaps the most popular) supplement for athletes looking for a performance boost.

But what exactly does creatine do?

What is creatine?

Creatine is an important amino acid that helps support muscle strength, short energy bursts, the power output of muscle, recovery and increases in lean body mass. It is best known for its muscle-building and energy-promoting benefits. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine supplements increase the body’s intramuscular creatine concentrations, leading to observed improvements in high-intensity exercise.

Creatine is made in the body primarily in the kidneys by three amino acids: glycine, arginine and methionine. Although the body produces creatine naturally, it is excreted daily. While you can find creatine in many foods — including beef, chicken, milk and cheese — the dose in these foods is very small. Due to the consistent excretion and the lack of creatine in most foods, many people choose to supplement creatine.

Most creatine supplements are created from sarcosine and cyanamide, which are combined with other catalyst compounds to form creatine crystals. The creatine crystals are vacuum-dried and milled into an extremely fine powder that can be easily dissolved. People mix this fine creatine powder with their protein powder to create a drink that gives their muscles a boost and supports effective muscle recovery. Gainful offers an easy-to-mix, easy-to-digest Creatine Performance Boost that allows users to reap the full performance benefits of creatine.

What does creatine do? The benefits of taking creatine

Typically, the people who choose to supplement creatine are people who are looking to build muscle. They want greater gains in lean body mass, muscle strength and power for their resistance, interval and strength training workouts.

Per the “International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine” published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2017, creatine leads to athletic and exercise improvement. In addition to a performance boost, the review notes that other benefits of creatine include:

So how exactly does creatine do all of this? The TL;DR: The most basic form of energy in cells is adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is what your cells use to perform their various functions. ATP depletes fast during exercise, but creatine helps replenish ATP. The more creatine you have for your body to use, the more energy your muscle cells have for exercise and recovery.

Because creatine helps replenish ATP, it’s able to help athletes of all levels achieve a variety of fitness goals. A creatine-saturated muscle enhances sports performance — key for activities involving repeated high-intensity exercise. (Think boxing, basketball, soccer, ski racing, football, etc.) Supplementing with creatine increases the water content of the muscles, which allows the muscle to quickly increase in size and speed up the time it takes to increase lean body weight. It also reduces fatigue and gives the body energy for sprints or surges in endurance events where an athlete wants to break away from the pack.

In addition to its performance-related benefits, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition review notes that creatine also provides a boost in brain health protection, cognitive processing and improved mood. It also states that there have been a number of studies that show creatine has a possible role in the prevention or reduced risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease), osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, aging, brain and heart ischemia and adolescent depression. Because creatine may also help stabilize blood sugar levels after meals, it may be beneficial for those with diabetes.

Finally, creatine supplementation helps people who don’t eat foods that contain creatine, such as vegetarians and vegans, round out their diets and increase their body’s creatine stores. People following vegetarian or vegan diets (or even those in a caloric deficit for weight loss) typically don’t consume enough creatine and are at-risk for low creatine levels in the muscle.

What does creatine monohydrate do? The difference between creatine monohydrate and creatine HCL

There are two popular forms of creatine: Creatine hydrochloride (HCL), and creatine monohydrate. The differences between creatine HCL supplements and creatine monohydrate supplements are not something you can easily spot — the differences between these two types exist at a molecular level. While physically, creatine HCL supplements and creatine monohydrate supplements look basically the same, they differ when it comes to how the body absorbs and utilizes them.

Creatine monohydrate is typically made with a creatine molecule and a water molecule. This combination brings more water into the muscle, allowing it to quickly increase in size. Creatine monohydrate works best when a person does “creatine loading” or a loading phase, which involves taking 20–25 grams of creatine monohydrate every day, split into 4–5 equal doses for 5 days to a full week. The purpose of loading is to saturate your muscle cells with creatine quicker so that you can experience its benefits sooner. To experience the effects of creatine, your muscles must be fully saturated with it, which does typically take 5–7 days of loading.

Creatine HCL, on the other hand, is made up of a creatine molecule with hydrochloride attached. The hydrochloride significantly enhances water solubility and absorption. Because creatine HCL has greater solubility, you can take a smaller dose of creatine HCL than you would have to take with creatine monohydrate to see the same results. The attached HCL also makes the creatine molecule more stable. With increased stability, creatine loading isn’t as crucial.

Although creatine HCL works faster and requires smaller doses for big results, there are many benefits to supplementing with creatine monohydrate over creatine HCL. Creatine monohydrate is a creatine that’s made for many different types of athletes — it’s not just for bodybuilders. Research shows creatine monohydrate supplementation is beneficial for many different fitness goals, as the versatile boost in energy from creatine monohydrate supports the high-intensity training and energy production needed to help beginner and advanced athletes alike reach their next personal best. Creatine monohydrate has also been extensively studied for much longer. While taking small doses of creatine HCL is widely considered safe, it hasn’t been studied as thoroughly as creatine monohydrate.

Gainful’s Creatine Performance Boost is a creatine monohydrate. The science-backed, mono nutrient formula isn’t just for bodybuilders; it’s engineered by Gainful’s team of experts and scientists to be used by all types of athletes.

Who should take creatine?

You know by now that the short answer to “Who should take creatine?” is “all types of athletes.” More specifically, people who could benefit from creatine supplementation include:

According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition review, researchers have identified a number of potentially beneficial clinical uses of creatine supplementation for a wide range of people. These studies show that short and long-term supplementation up to 30 grams per day for 5 years is well-tolerated in healthy individuals/patient populations ranging from infants to the elderly, all of whom use creatine for a number of different reasons.

Does creatine make you gain weight?

Sometimes, the benefits of creatine get overshadowed by rumors or myths about creatine’s side effects. It’s true that creatine does have a few possible side effects, the most common side effects of creatine supplements being bloating, cramps and stomach discomfort. People who use creatine but don’t engage in regular or intense physical activity may find creatine leads to weight gain or a bloated appearance; however, this can be avoided.

The ingredients used in your creatine formula can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding these common side effects. Gainful’s Creatine Performance Boost is sifted through a very fine sieve, which means that the particles will dissolve and absorb easier than most creatine supplements and makes it easier on the stomach. The Creatine Performance Boost’s supreme absorbency along with its vegan, keto, paleo, non-GMO, cGMP, gluten-free, no sugar added, HPLC-tested, micronized formula is what allows Gainful users to avoid the bloat and other unwanted side effects.

Is it safe to take creatine? What does creatine do for women?

Both the International Society of Sports Nutrition and the International Olympic Committee regard creatine as extremely safe, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) does not have any bans on creatine. According to a 2011 study titled “The effects of the recommended dose of creatine monohydrate on kidney function” published in the journal NDT Plus, extensive research since the early 2000s has shown that oral creatine supplementation appears to be safe when used by healthy adults at a recommended loading dose of 20 grams per day for 5 days and maintenance doses of less than 3 grams per day. Researchers found that adverse side effects were largely devoid in people following these doses, even when taking high doses of creatine or taking maintenance doses for long periods of time.

Additionally, the International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that both short and long-term supplementation of up to 30 grams per day for 5 years is safe in healthy individuals. (In fact, significant health benefits may be provided by ensuring habitual low dietary creatine ingestion, such as 3 grams per day, throughout the lifespan.) These studies include use by women. Creatine supplementation is proven to be safe for women, and it won’t necessarily make them “bulk up.” Creatine is for any woman looking for increased lean muscle mass and reduced fat mass — it’s not just for major muscle gains.

A creatine supplement for all types of athletes

Now that you know what creatine does, are you ready to take in all of creatine’s benefits?

If yes, start by taking Gainful’s quiz. Gainful’s team of experts will review your answers and can help determine creatine’s place in your wellness journey.

Based on your quiz answers, you can create your complete sports nutrition system, which includes Personalized Protein Powder, Pre-Workout and Hydration. Every product is made with ingredients that are added specifically for your fitness needs, diet and lifestyle. We take every dietary restriction and aspect of your daily routine into consideration because there’s a nutrition system — and more specifically, a creatine formula — for every type of athlete, and your nutrition system should reflect you and your body. Your Gainful products are created for you and no one else.

Head over to Gainful’s quiz and experience all that creatine does first-hand.

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