If you're going to take one supplement, I recommend creatine. Here's why...
What is creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid required for all the body's fast-paced, high-energy, demanding activity. It is stored in the muscles, brain and gut. It's a naturally occurring compound and after consuming protein, the liver produces less than 1g per day. Although more can be obtained through your diet via animal protein, you'd have to eat silly amounts to hit the same levels that supplements provide.
Now let's get into the sciency stuff...
Creatine is converted into phosphocreatine (PCr), which helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). When ATP is broken down, energy is released. Your body needs PCr to replenish ATP levels, but we only naturally have a small amount, which is where supplementation comes in.
What are the main benefits?
•The primary benefit of creatine is an increase in strength and power during resistance training, and an improved high-intensity exercise performance. This is due to it's role in the production of ATP.
It improves a number of factors, such as: strength, ballistic power, sprint ability, muscle endurance, resistance to fatigue, muscle mass, recovery, and brain performance.
This is the area in which it has been most heavily researched, and the effects are significant: one study found that it improves high-intensity exercise performance by up to 15%!
It's also important to note that women have naturally lower creatine stores than men, meaning that we can respond better to supplementation and will likely experience double the performance improvement than men. (It also can relieve PMS symptoms, and help you feel your best during pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause).
•It's also been shown that, when taken alongside weight training, it can increase lean muscle mass. This is down to the fact that it can alter a number of cellular pathways that lead to new muscle growth, such as an increase in the formation of proteins that create new muscle fibres.
Note that at first it can also increase the water content of the muscles (cell volumization) which makes them appear bigger.
In a study of a 6 week training programme, the group of participants who used creatine put on, on average, 4.4lbs (2kg) more muscle mass than the control group.
•Creatine plays an important role in brain health and function. Research has shown that your brain requires a significant amount of ATP when performing challenging tasks. Creatine may also increase dopamine levels and mitochondrial function, improving brain function.
As vegetarians often have lower natural levels of creatine, a study showed that after supplementation, they had a 20-50% improvement in some memory and intelligence test scores.
In older adults, 2 weeks creatine supplementation significantly improved memory and recall ability. It has also been shown to protect against neurological diseases, and reduce age-related loss of muscle and strength.
•Last but not least, creatine can also reduce tiredness and fatigue and increase cognitive performance, by providing your brain with more energy and increasing dopamine levels.
One study showed that creatine supplementation led to reduced fatigue and increased energy levels during sleep deprivation.
Creatine is one of the safest and cheapest supplements available. It has been researched for over 200 years, and studies support it's safety for long term use.
For best results, take 3-5g of creatine monohydrate powder daily. You'll soon notice the difference. 💪