Elite athletes may have more natural talent than the average person, but their innate attributes are really just half the story in terms of how they can achieve the physical feats that they do.
The rest comes down to a mixture of training and diet, with world-class individuals often having entire teams dedicated to getting their routines right.
In addition to having a nutritionally balanced eating schedule, all top athletes take supplements to ensure that they are not at a disadvantage, and creatine is one of the most common compounds to be included in this context. So what is creatine, and why do athletes across lots of disciplines take it?
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What makes creatine special?
Creatine is an important compound that exists in the cells of our bodies and has an especially important part to play in our muscle tissue.
Our bodies can synthesize creatine, but it can also be acquired through what we eat, and of course, supplements mean that athletes can take a proactive approach to ensure that they have plenty of this compound onboard.
There are different types of creatine supplements available, with creatine monohydrate being the most established of the bunch. Meanwhile, newcomers like creatine nitrate are shaking things up at the moment because one of the main creatine nitrate benefits is that it is more soluble and thus easier to absorb.
What role does creatine play in enhancing athletic performance?
One of the things that creatine does is make muscle tissue more efficient when it comes to using oxygen so that more energy can be created in cells and, in turn, more explosive power can be provided to those that take creatine supplements.
In scientific studies, researchers have found that the maximum amount of power an athlete can generate may rise by anywhere between 5 and 15 percent with the help of an additional dose of creatine taken shortly before exertion.
Interestingly enough, creatine is not actually capable of boosting the endurance or stamina levels of athletes. Still, its efficacy in the more intense types of aerobic exercise means that it is well suited to anyone aiming to hit a higher performance peak, if only for brief periods.
What events are creatine suited to?
Supplementing with creatine is not limited to just one or two sports or specialities but has applications in a number of different events.
This includes everything from traditional athletic pursuits like sprinting to team sports like basketball and hockey, as well as combat sports and even swimming.
As well as giving short term benefits, upping creatine has even been shown to reduce the amount of atrophying that athletes and other individuals naturally experience as they age, so it could be considered as a means of prolonging performance over the course of a professional athlete’s career.
What other advantages does creatine offer?
While the world of elite athletics has certainly generated plenty of interest in creatine because of the performance benefits it can deliver, it has appealing applications outside of this arena.
Most significantly, creatine can build muscle mass and make muscles appear more aesthetically pleasing and prominent, which is why it has also been embraced by those who enjoy bodybuilding.
There are also ongoing studies into how it might be used to treat various degenerative diseases which impact the musculature and cardiovascular systems, so there is hope that it could have additional medicinal uses in years to come.
So there you have it; creatine supplements can boost performance and improve appearance, making their popularity easy to understand for professional athletes and amateurs alike.