Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements (2017).

Creatine is a compound that is stored in your muscles and supplies them with energy. Your body produces some creatine (about 1 gram a day), and you get some creatine from eating animal-based foods, such as beef and salmon (about 500 milligrams in a 4-ounce serving). But it is only when you take much larger amounts of creatine from dietary supplements that it might improve certain types of performance.

DOES IT WORK? Creatine supplements can increase strength, power, and the ability to contract muscles for maximum effort. But the extent of performance improvements from creatine supplements differs among individuals.

Use of creatine supplements for several weeks or months can help with training. Overall, creatine enhances performance during repeated short bursts of intense, intermittent activity (lasting up to about 2.5 minutes at a time), such as sprinting and weight lifting. Creatine seems to have little value for endurance activities, such as distance running, cycling, or swimming.
IS IT SAFE? Creatine is safe for healthy adults to take for several weeks or months. It also seems safe for long-term use over several years. Creatine usually causes some weight gain because it increases water retention. Rare individual reactions to creatine include some muscle stiffness and cramps as well as GI distress.
BOTTOM LINE Sports-medicine experts agree that creatine supplements can improve performance in activities that involve intense effort followed by short recovery periods. It can also be valuable in training for certain athletic competitions. In studies, people often took a loading dose of about 20 grams per day of creatine (in four equal portions) for 5 to 7 days and then 3 to 5 grams a day. Creatine monohydrate is the most widely used and studied form of creatine in supplements.
REMARK Many performance supplements in the marketplace contain more than one ingredient, and ingredients can work differently when they’re combined. Because most ingredient combinations have not been studied, it is not known how effective or safe they are in improving performance.

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