Fuel for the muscles
Energy is needed for the muscle to contract. This is obtained by converting ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to ADP (adenosine diphosphate) in the muscle cells. If not enough ATP is available, fatigue occurs. Creatine supports the conversion of ADP back to ATP and is thus an important source of energy for the muscle. If the creatine stores are full, the muscles are able to perform longer and do not tire as quickly.
This can lead to an improvement in performance during short, intense exertions, such as those that occur in weight training or sprinting. The effect lasts as long as the creatine stores are elevated. By the way, most creatine is found in the fast muscle fibres.
It has been found that muscle mass increases when creatine is supplemented over a longer period of training. Even after the creatine was stopped, the newly gained muscle mass remained. This is why creatine is popular with bodybuilders. A study from 2006 showed that taking creatine led to a growth of the fast and slow muscle fibre types. At the same time, an increase in muscle strength was observed, which affected both muscle fibre types.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has now officially confirmed that creatine supplementation leads to an increase in muscle mass, muscle strength and muscle power.
Forms and intake
According to an EFSA opinion from 2004, taking 3 g of creatine per day is risk-free.
Important for endurance athletes: Creatine causes more water to be stored in the muscle cells. Taking high doses can lead to a weight gain of 1 to 3 kg.
Creatine is available in powder, tablet or capsule form. Since creatine can be contaminated with heavy metals, you should make sure it is of good quality.
Creatine monohydrate has been the best studied so far. Its effectiveness has been proven and it is well tolerated in normal doses. Insulin promotes the absorption of creatine into the muscle. It is therefore recommended to take creatine monohydrate in combination with a meal.
There are also creatine HCL, creatine malate and Kre-Alkalyn. Creatine HCL is slightly more water-soluble. Kre-Alkalyn is creatine monohydrate that has been buffered with sodium bicarbonate, which is supposed to make it more effective. In creatine malate, malic acid has been added to the creatine. Here, too, the manufacturer advertises better bioavailability.