What Is Creatine?

If you're in the world of fitness and wellness, you know that almost every month brings about a new miracle supplement guaranteed to produce results fast. But one well-researched and highly-effective supplement often flies under the radar, despite the fact that studies have shown over and over that it's capable of increasing muscle mass and improving exercise performance. Here's what you need to know about creatine.

Creatine, which is also found naturally in your muscles, helps your body produce energy during exercise, which is why it is most often used by athletes and bodybuilders. Creatine improves your work capacity so you can push harder in workouts, while at the same time boosting your ability to recover faster, and keeping your cells hydrated. In a three-month study done on weightlifters, creatine supplementation increased muscle fiber growth between 200 and 300 percent compared to training alone (via Healthline). 

Creatine can even potentially improve brain health, from memory improvement to decreasing risk for neurological diseases.

How do I get more creatine?

The body produces creatine naturally, and you can boost production by lifting weights and building more muscle or by eating more protein, primarily meat (via Medical News Today). Alternatively, you can consider supplementing with creatine, which is often available in powder form and can be easily blended into a pre- or post-workout smoothie. 

The most common option is creatine monohydrate, which is the supplement used in the studied that showed creatine increases muscle performance in short-duration, high-intensity resistance exercise (via the Cleveland Clinic). Taking between three and five grams daily has been shown to be the most effective dosage (via Healthline). 

Like any supplement on the shelf,, it's important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration doesn't control the safety and effectiveness of supplements before they are marketed (via the Food and Drug Administration). When selecting a creatine supplement, make sure you're choosing one from a trusted source, to ensure that you're supplementing with a quality product. A third-party seal of approval from a company like NSF that tests supplements to ensure they actually contain the ingredients they claim to, is a good way to ensure a better-quality supplement (via NSF).