What is creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain foods and produced by the body itself, mainly in the liver, kidneys and pancreas. It is an important source of energy at the cellular level, especially for high-intensity, short-duration activities such as powerlifting, running, and jumping.
Mechanism of action of creatine:

Creatine works mainly at the level of muscle cells. At the cellular level, creatine works as follows:

Rebuilding ATP: Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the body's primary source of energy. During intense physical exertion, ATP breaks down quickly, releasing energy. Creatine helps regenerate ATP by donating a phosphate group to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), converting it back into ATP. This rapid regeneration of ATP is crucial for short bursts of energy such as weight lifting or sprinting.

Increasing phosphocreatine levels: Creatine is stored in muscle cells in the form of phosphocreatine. When you take a creatine supplement, it increases the levels of phosphocreatine in the muscle cells. This stored creatine acts as a rapidly available store for the rapid production of ATP during high-intensity activities.

Better hydration of muscle cells: Creatine can absorb more water into muscle cells, promoting cell hydration. This swelling effect can promote muscle growth and improve protein synthesis.

Lactic acid buffering: Creatine may help buffer the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles, delaying the onset of muscle fatigue during intense physical exertion.

Muscle Protein Synthesis: Some studies suggest that creatine can improve muscle protein synthesis, which is important for muscle growth and recovery.
Benefits of using creatine

Increasing muscle strength and power, especially during short intense workouts.
Improved training performance and endurance, allowing for more repetitions or faster sprints.
Enhanced muscle recovery after intense training.
Possible increase in muscle mass, due to the increased amount of water in the muscles and improved protein synthesis.
Benefits in various sports such as weightlifting, running and high intensity interval training.
Dosage and safety:

A typical dosage for a creatine supplement is 3-5 grams per day, often in the form of creatine monohydrate. It's generally safe for most people, but if you have underlying medical conditions, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new nutritional supplement program.
Should I stop using creatine?

Taking creatine on a break is debatable but generally not necessary. Here are some things to note about creatine breaks:
Why take a break?

In some cases, people may want to take a break from using creatine to maintain its effectiveness. In theory, the body can adapt to the continuous intake of creatine, which may reduce its effect over time.
How long breaks and how often

If you decide to take a break from creatine, the recommended time period may vary. Some recommend taking a break every 4-8 weeks or so, while others may take a break more often.
The length of the break can also vary. Some may only take a break for a few days or weeks, while others may want a longer break, even several months.
It is important to note that the effects of creatine can vary from person to person. Some may feel that taking breaks helps maintain the effectiveness of the creatine, while others may not notice much of a difference.
Practical recommendations

The need for creatine breaks varies from individual to individual, and there is no one right way to use creatine.
If you decide to take a break, it is recommended to monitor your own reaction and feelings during and after training.
Taking short breaks, e.g. when the powder jar is finished, is certainly not harmful, but its continuous use is also generally safe and effective.

Creatine can protect DNA

The idea that creatine protects DNA is an emerging area of research and is not yet fully understood. Although creatine is primarily known for its role in energy metabolism and muscle function, there is evidence to suggest that creatine may have potential DNA-protective effects. Here are some of the mechanisms through which creatine may be involved in DNA protection:

Antioxidant properties: Creatine is known to act as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals that can damage DNA. By reducing oxidative stress and protecting against free radical damage, creatine can indirectly support DNA integrity.

Mitochondrial function: Creatine is involved in maintaining the function of mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles of cells. Healthy mitochondria are important for energy metabolism and reducing the production of DNA-damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS).

DNA repair: Some preliminary research suggests that creatine may play a role in DNA repair mechanisms. DNA repair is essential for fixing damaged DNA strands and maintaining genetic stability.

Cellular energy: Creatine is involved in maintaining the energy balance of the cells. Adequate energy levels are essential for cellular processes, including DNA maintenance and repair.

It is important to note that although there are plausible mechanisms through which creatine may have protective effects on DNA, research in this area is still ongoing and not yet conclusive. Most research on creatine has focused on its effects on muscle and physical performance rather than DNA protection.
Should I take creatine before or after training?

The optimal timing of creatine depends on your goals and preferences. Taking both before and after a workout has its benefits, and many people choose based on what works best with their exercise routines and diet. Here is information on taking creatine both before and after training:
Before training

Energy and Performance: Taking creatine before exercise can help increase available ATP and phosphocreatine, which can improve short-term performance during high-intensity exercise. This can be especially useful for weight lifting and strength training.

Hydration: Creatine can help muscle cells draw in more water, which can promote cellular hydration. This can lead to a feeling of muscle fullness and swelling, which can be pleasant before a workout.
After training

Efficient Utilization: While taking creatine before a workout can increase available energy, it can also utilize creatine more efficiently after a workout when the muscles are more receptive to nutrients.

Simplicity: Taking creatine post-workout allows you to incorporate it into your daily routine and can be easier if you have a busy schedule.

Pairing with other nutrients: Some people prefer to take creatine post-workout because they can pair it with a protein drink or carbohydrates, which can aid in recovery.

In the end, the decision to take creatine before or after training depends on your own preferences and training goals. Many people feel that the timing of creatine is not as significant as its regular intake in the daily diet. The main thing is to make sure you are taking the recommended daily amount of creatine no matter when you take it.

In summary, it can be stated that creatine is a scientifically well-supported supplement that enhances energy production at the cellular level. It is widely used to improve exercise performance, especially in high-intensity, short-duration activities, making it a popular choice among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. In addition, creatine can have other benefits that extend beyond sports, such as slowing down the aging of the skin and brain.