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What does creatine do
What does creatine do?

What does creatine do?

  • Reading time: 9 min.

Creatine is probably the most popular supplement you can take and with good reason! Creatine is one of the most studied supplements in the world and the results are clear: creatine works! All the same, we are aware that there are still a lot of questions about creatine. For example, the way creatine works is not clear to a lot of athletes. That's why we are going answer the question, what does creatine do? in this XXL Nutrition blog. So that you know what creatine does to your body and the benefits it provides to strength athletes.

Creatine effect explained

We think it's important for you to know how creatine works and what exactly it is. We have previously explained in an earlier blog what creatine is. Now we are going to delve deeper into the exact way creatine supplements work.

Creatine plays a role in providing muscles with (above all short, explosive) energy for performing movement. Your body needs energy to move your muscles. This allows your muscles to contract. Your body draws energy from ATP (adenose-tri-phosphate). Additionally, your body can supplement this with the help of fatty acids, amino acids and glycogen (carbohydrates). But creatine can also be used for this in the form of creatine phosphate. Your body chooses the most efficient source of energy, depending on the duration and intensity of the movement you want to make.

Your body uses creatine phosphate for short explosive strength exercises, like strength training and sprinting. Creatine is converted to creatine phosphate in your body to replenish the stores in the creatine phosphate system. Because these stores are limited, you usually can't manage to maintain explosive movement for long. You start to notice a reduction in your muscle strength and explosiveness after about 10 to 15 seconds. There is no longer enough creatine phosphate to make more ATP.

By using creatine in supplement form you can make sure that your body stores greater reserves of creatine phosphate in your body. This plays a part in facilitating the execution of explosive strength exercises, as shown in this scientific study[1]. This has made creatine into a popular supplement among strength athletes. More creatine is stored in your muscles through consuming 5 grams of creatine daily. As a result your body can produce more creatine phosphate during explosive exercise, which makes more energy available for contracting your muscles.

What does creatine do to your body?

You've been able to read about how creatine works above. But what does creatine do to your body when you starting using it? If you take creatine in powder form, then it's absorbed in your stomach and intestines. it is then transported to your muscle cells and saved there. This causes your muscle cells to attract more water, causing them to swell. They increase in volume and this leads to a small increase in your body weight. This also makes your muscles appear larger, but this is above all visual (because the volume of the muscle cells increase) and does not represent an immediate increase in muscle mass.

Greater supplies of creatine in your body means that your body can release more energy during explosive exercise. This energy system uses creatine phosphate for short and explosive effort. Therefore creatine is particularly suitable for strength training. Read more below about the effects and benefits of creatine

Benefits of creatine

Now that you've read about how creatine works and what creatine does for your body, we are going to explore the most important benefits of this 'white gold'. Because creatine sure has benefits! What do you think about these great creatine benefits?

1. Creatine stimulates muscle growth during explosive strength exercises.

2. Creatine ensures greater strength during explosive strength exercises.

3. Creatine helps improve performance during explosive strength exercises.

4. Creatine use is safe

5. Creatine supplements do not stop its production in your body

6. Creatine monohydrate is inexpensive

1. Creatine stimulates muscle growth during explosive strength exercises

The main reason for taking creatine is because, coupled with strength training, it stimulates muscle growth. And that's what creatine does best! Hundreds of studies have shown us that taking creatine leads to better results at the gym. You may well say, that's nice for bodybuilders, but why should you take creatine if you're not a bodybuilder?

A daily intake of 3 - 5 grams of creatine stimulates muscle growth/(lean) muscle mass during explosive strength exercise. And everyone benefits from muscle growth! Greater muscle mass also helps you carry out your everyday activities with greater ease. But also if you want to get more out of other sports, or if as a woman you want to develop your butt, or if you're getting older and are therefore becoming more vulnerable to falls and so on. Greater muscle mass is also useful if you want to lose weight, because muscle mass consumes more energy that fat.

Bear in mind that creatine is not suddenly going to change you into an Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike. That's something which often scares people off when they hear about creatine, but of course, that's not going to happen just like that.

2. Creatine ensures greater strength during explosive strength exercises

As well as stimulating muscle growth, when combined with explosive strength training, creatine also ensures greater strength. This means creatine is not only a very beneficial supplement at the gym, but also outside it. Think how great it would be to have extra strength when you're on your racing bike, for example. Of when you're doing DIY at home and need to do heavy lifting. Or if you've got kids and you spend your whole day dragging a baby and their toys around. And how about if you live on the fourth floor without a lift and have to carry your heavy shopping up the stairs twice a week?.

Do you see where this is going? Sure, the strength you get from creatine comes into its own at the gym. But the strength that you build up from it applies to every area of your life.

3. Creatine helps improve performance during explosive strength exercises

Were stimulating muscle growth and greater muscle strength not enough, creatine also improves your performance upon exertion. That means that not only do you become stronger and more muscular, but also that you get more out of your training too. We've often talked about the importance of progress.

That's exactly what creatine helps you achieve. In the long term, enabling you to put in more work in less time, can make all the difference between an average and an awesome result.

4. Creatine use is safe

A frequently heard objection to creatine is that it's not safe. Luckily, we've got good news for you here too, because creatine has been very widely studied and shown to be entirely safe. Providing you take a normal dose of about 5 grams a day, there's nothing to worry about as far as your health is concerned.

You sometimes hear it claimed too that creatine is bad for your liver and kidneys. Researchers did indeed once determine as much, but with the proviso that the people who experienced issues already had reduced organ function.

Therefore, creatine is not dangerous for your liver and kidneys, unless you already have problems with them, in which case it can become an issue. In such a case, we would always advise you to consult your doctor beforehand, but that's the case with substances other than creatine too.

Another thing you sometimes hear is that creatine causes stomach complaints. This appears to be the case only when you consume it large doses, for example, during a loading phase. During a loading phase you consume 20 grams of creatine a day, split into four doses.

If you notice that this provokes stomach complaints or diarrhea, there's an easy solution: just take 5 grams a day and wait a little longer to experience creatine's full effects. You can read about the potential downsides of creatine and research into side effects here.

5. Creatine does not stop your body producing it naturally

You've probably heard that creatine is bad for you because it stops your body's natural production of it. It's been claimed that if you take creatine for a longer period of time it can be harmful, which is why it is sometimes advised to pause taking creatine for a while every eight to 12 weeks. Fortunately, this is an myth. It is good to realise that the body makes creatine from a combination of amino acids. These are substances that you simply get from your daily diet, so when you stop taking creatine as a supplement, your body will simply start making it again.

It's just that your body can never make as much as when you consume 5 grams of creatine a day, which is exactly what makes creatine so popular. This myth arose from equating creatine with hormones like testosterone. Where it is indeed the case that if your own production gets interrupted, it takes a long time before your body gets things working properly again.

It's just that hormones are completely different to nutrients like creatine. They're a lot more complex and hormone production depends on a lot more than diet alone. So don't be afraid. You're not going to put a stop to your own creatine production by taking creatine powder.

6. Creatine monohydrate is inexpensive

The last, but certainly not the least benefit of creatine is that creatine is inexpensive. Creatine monohydrate is the best known and most widely sold type. It's available from just €26.95 (for 500 grams of creatine). For clarity: if you don't do a loading phase, that's enough for at least 100 days! So you don't need to miss out on financial grounds!

Do you too want to benefit from the creatine effect?

Have you been won over by all these great creatine benefits and are you clear about how creatine works? Then you are ready to use creatine to get more out of your workouts. Now that you know what creatine does for your body and that it has a huge number of benefits, you can start by taking 5 grams of creatine daily. You always buy the best creatines for the best price at XXL Nutrition!



Marvin Grouw
This blog is written by:
Marvin Grouw
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