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An increasingly popular supplement among athletes, creatine can be a great way to support your fitness goals naturally.
Creatine comes in various forms. Here we explore it in its powder form.
What is creatine powder and what does creatine powder do?
Creatine is an organic compound that we produce naturally in the kidneys and liver. It is mostly stored in our bones.
Creatine is formed from a combination of three amino acids (proteins): glycine, methionine and arginine.
Consuming large amounts of meat and fish can support our natural creatine levels.
There are several forms of Creatine, including creatine ethyl ester, kre-alkalyn and other buffered creatines.
However, by far the most common and popular is creatine monohydrate
Creatine increases physical performance in successive bursts of short-term, high intensity exercise. This beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 3g of creatine. Exactly how it does that gets very complex very quickly. When creatine combines with the chemical Adenosine Di-phosphate (ADP) it makes Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which provides quick and explosive energy once it starts breaking down.
For more about the science behind creatine, check out our article on the Health Hub: What creatine is and why you should use it.
Creatine powder is just one way to supplement the creatine in your diet.
Others include capsules, chews and more general pre-workout formulas.
Creatine powder gives you the flexibility to take it as a drink or a shot, or to add extra creatine into smoothies, yoghurts, shakes, soups and more.
There are specialist formulations for vegetarians and vegans, who can find it hard to otherwise to bolster creatine supplies.
Creatine is not for everyone, but it is perfect for anyone doing high-intensity training, as well as for activities such as weight lifting and sprinting.
In short, it is great for anyone wanting to improve their performance.
How to take creatine powder depends on a number of factors.
While it is best to go with the recommendations of the manufacturer of the product you choose, a general rule is to take 2-5g with your post-workout shake or your first meal of the day.
If you are thinking about how to use creatine powder on a long-term basis, it is considered a good idea to take a four-week break from consuming creatine once every three months.
There are various different creatine powders available.
Creatine monohydrate is the most researched supplement on the market. This should give peace of mind if you go for a creatine monohydrate powder supplement, such as Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder, one of the most popular creatine supplements on the market.
This Optimum Nutrition creatine powder is very fine, which means it mixes easily with juice or water to give 3g of creatine at a time with no grittiness.
For a flavoured powder, it is worth trying USN Creatine Anabolic Powder, which comes in a tropical flavour.
For vegans, go for Reflex XFT Creatine, which is 100% suitable for those on a plant-based diet.
As with all nutrition and exercise programmes, it is best to first consult your doctor before embarking on anything involving long-term supplement use.
This is especially true if you have any health conditions.
Creatine powder should not be used by anyone under the age of 18, or if you are pregnant or lactating.
Creatine powder increases the amount of water your cells hold on to, so you should drink plenty of water: at least eight large glasses per day.