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Many bodybuilders use supplements to assist in replenishing depleted vitamins and minerals. Creatine supplements are used by athletes to increase overall performance in the area of strength and recovery. Creatine forces muscles to retain water, which allows for greater expansion and growth of the muscle area.
Creatine is one of the most popular bodybuilding supplements available today. It is an active ingredient in many of the popular weight-gainer supplements. Creatine is found naturally in the body as a chemical produced by amino acids that aid the body in creating skeletal muscle. It was first identified in 1830s by the French chemist Michel Eugene Chevreul.
This supplement works by replenishing glycogen stores, which aid in muscle growth. Typically athletes use a practice known as carb-loading to saturate their muscles with energy carbs. This glycogen requires water to enter the muscle cell, which produces larger, fuller muscles. Creatine helps the body retain this water for energy creation.
Many foods naturally contain creatine. These typically include fish and red meat. The best natural foods for creatine are tuna, salmon, cod, pork, and red meats. Most bodybuilders choose to use creatine supplements in addition to natural food. This is because red meats are high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
The side effects of creatine supplements include water retention, stomach problems, and mild headaches. Some more serious issues include nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, headaches, and muscle cramps. As with any supplement, users should monitor their body conditions closely during the first few weeks of consumption.
Creatine causes the body to retain water for the muscles. While using creatine it is important to monitor and consume an adequate amount of water. Most bodybuilders consume at least 64 ounces (about 1.89 liters) of water per day. Additional water may be necessary while using creatine. Proper water consumption may limit the side effects of headaches while using creatine.
It is not recommended to use this supplement for extended periods of time. The body will quickly adapt to this supplement, which requires a cycling approach. A typically creatine cycle phase will last between four to six weeks.
The best cycle approach consists of two phases, which are loading and maintenance phases. The first two weeks is considered the loading phase. During this phase the athlete should take additional creatine supplements twice a day. The total cycle should only last for six weeks with a five-week off cycle phase.