Post-workout recovery is one of the most important ingredients in achieving superior strength and performance.
Creatine is one of those supplements that many pro athletes have been using for decades. It has been known for some incredible anabolic and performance-enhancing effects. But can you improve the post-workout recovery with creatine? We will find out, but let’s get to know the few basics first.
What is creatine and how it works?
Creatine is a substance found naturally in the muscle cells, its main function is to generate more ATP.
It was first discovered in 1832 by Michel Eugene Chevreulm, he extracted the compound from meat. Since then, it is one of the most researched sports supplements in the market.
Creatine supplementation didn’t become popular until the 1990s when two Olympic gold-medallists athletes credited creatine for their success. By 1996, an estimated 80% of athletes at the Atlanta Olympics were using creatine too.
How does creatine works?
Creatine improves performance and body composition in a multidimensional way. About 95% of the body’s creatine is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine.
The creatine stored in muscle tissues is used to produce ATP. ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is a life energy currency of life and plays a primary role in providing the required energy to muscle tissues for heavy lifts and high-intensity exercises (3, 4). I know you are not interested in the biochemistry, let’s get straight to its effects on performance:
- Through increased ATP production, creatine helps in boosting workout performance and superior gains (5).
- Supplementing with creating leads to the production of anabolic hormones and studies (6, 7) confirms the muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults.
- Creating is also known (8) to increase the cell hydration, muscle cell’s capability to hold more water leads to achieving better hypertrophy.
Can creatine improve muscle recovery?
A study (9) conducted at the Department of Exercise Science and Athletics, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania 17815, USA, on the effects of creatine on post-workout recovery and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
Researchers stated “oral creatine supplementation does not reduce skeletal muscle damage or enhance recovery following a hypoxic resistance exercise challenge”
It’s clear, creatine can be effectively used to improve ATP production and deliver superior performance but it can not be trusted to accelerate the recovery time.
Then how to heck creatine help in fast muscle recovery? Some other factors can not be neglected; Creatine can potentially assist in accelerating muscle recovery in indirect ways.
5 ways creatine may assist post-workout recovery.
Everyone wants to talk about the direct benefits, creating supports superior performance in many different ways. Let’s see how it benefits your recovery process.
#1 Improved satellite cell mitotic activity
Creatine influences the muscles on cellular levels. Higher satellite cell mitotic activity contributes new nuclei to growing myofibers at a higher pace.
A study (21) conducted to know the effects of dietary creatine monohydrate supplementation on satellite cell mitotic activity observed positive changes. Researches found “creatine supplementation in combination with increased functional load results in increased satellite cell mitotic activity “.
This means, creatine supplementation assisted in the development of new muscle cells at a faster pace which results in accelerated recovery.
#2 Production of Anabolic Hormones
What is the role of anabolic hormones in the recovery process? Anabolic hormones like testosterone are proven to accelerate the recovery process. Scientific researches have proven, Anabolic hormones play a crucial role in the body’s response to metabolism, repair, and adaptive capabilities.
That’s the reason professional athletes pay soo much emphasis on the levels of testosterone and other growth hormones.
#3 Cell Hydration:
The body develops stronger muscle through the combination of resistance training and protein synthesis. Resistance training leads to muscle breakdown and then the rebuilding process happens with the help of protein synthesis.
Cell hydration plays an important role in the speed of the recovery process, lack of hydration may lead to slow recovery.
We know, creating improves the cell hydration (8) which in-turn supports accelerated muscle tissue recovery.
#4 Restricting protein Breakdown
We talked about the importance of improved protein synthesis for muscle growth, but restricting the muscle protein breakdown can have supplementary benefits on improves strength and hypertrophy.
Another study (22) conducted at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada concluded some fascinating facts. Researchers stated, “CrM reduced leucine oxidation (-19.6%) and plasma leucine rate of appearance (-7.5%, P < 0.05) in men, but not in women. “.
Research clearly observed, that supplementing with creatine monohydrate prevented muscle breakdown in men.
# 5 Decreases fatigue and muscle tenderness
Do you experience fatigue after a hard training session? Try adding creatine for 15-days to see the changes.
It is found to improve energy levels and decrease fatigue after an extensive cycling session (18).
Should you take creatine for post-workout recovery?
Relying completely on creatine for post-workout recovery should not be a part of th
No doubt, creating is one of the best supplements for muscle and strength building but it should be combined with a high-protein diet for accelerated recovery.
Does creatine help recovery from injury
While some studies found negligible effects on post-workout recovery but it is found to improve recovery time and reduces muscle damage.
A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition examined the effects of Cr supplementation on muscle proteins and force recovery after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals. The research found significant improvement in the rate of recovery following injury by enhancing the “muscle force” in damaged/injured tissues.
Now, let’s get to know some other things about creatine.
Other Creatine Monohydrate Benefits
Like to go through some of the practical benefits of creatine? Won’t make it a long description, will cover them all in short.
Better pump with creatine
Whether you are a pro bodybuilder or a newbie, everyone is chasing for a better pump. Did you checked the video when Arnold talks about the pump, he explains “the greatest feeling you can have in the gym, the pump!”
Creatine supplements enhance performance
I have been blabbering about this from the first line of this article.
Creatine supplements enhance performance by increasing energy production on the cellular level (14).
This ATP helps in delivering the short burst of energy which assists in lifting heavier and achieving more repetitions.
Creatine to gain muscle
Creatine = More ATP = Higher Reps = Muscle gain.
Creatine is good for fat loss too
Yes, that’s right. Creatine can help you in achieving a lower fat percentage. How creatine helps in achieving faster fat loss?
- Better metabolism: By increased ATP, creatine helps in burning more energy.
- Better performance: Superior performance + more calorie burning.
- Muscle mass development: More muscle requires more calorie expenditure, which indirectly leads to a faster metabolism.
Creatine vs protein for recovery
If you are serious about improved performance then you should not be ignoring any of the two.
Creatine is helping in delivering greater ATP which leads to superior energy output and greater performance.
Proteins are the building block of muscle and you cant recovery effectively without a complete amino profile.
If you are low on budget and could not afford supplementation then you should target to fulfill the body’s protein need through whole food (beans, dairy, meat, eggs, fishes, etc) and should buy some creatine supplement (which is dirt cheap)
Creatine vs creatine monohydrate
creatine supplement is not confined to a single form, it is available in different forms, there are multiple forms of creatine available in the supplement industry. Some of the most common types are:
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Creatine Ethyl Ester
- Creatine Hydrochloride
- Buffered Creatine
- Liquid Creatine
- Creatine Magnesium Chelate
Confused with the different available forms? Creatine monohydrate is one of the most well-researched forms of creatine. Based on the number of scientific researches and evidence, I would suggest creatine monohydrate.
Creatine monohydrate worked well for me and my students, but there is nothing wrong in giving other variations a try. I guess my second favorite would be Creatine hydrochloride. 😉
Are creatine supplements safe
I said this before and saying this again, creating is one of the most well-researched sports supplements in the market.
International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. More than 1000 studies on the creatine found it to be the most effective sports supplements.
Can creatine make you bloated
Creating often cause bloating in the loading phase. Its the first 7 days of beginning with creatine when you take 10-15 grams of creatine to create a saturation between muscle tissues and creatine.
The loading phase can lead to a significant increase in body weight (due to water retention). However, people get rid of bloating after the completion of the loading phase (19).
Can creatine help lose weight
Initially, creating can lead to an increase in body weight because of water retention. Your body will eventually lose the gained water weight.
Creatine can surely help in losing excess weight and reducing the fat percentage by improving metabolic rate and improving workout performance.
When creatine should be taken
Creating does not have any immediate effects on the body, it takes its time.
It doesn’t really matter if you take it morning, evening or as a pre-workout, it will do its work as long you take it daily.
After a loading period, the best creatine maintenance range is between 3-5 grams.
Will creatine break a fast
Creatine contains a negligible or almost no calories which do not break your intermittent fast.
But its not really suggested supplementing with creatine while fasting. Best time to consume it with a meal (high in protein or carbs). Your body definitly needs insulin to push creating into those muscle tissues.