( This post is a part of a series sponsored by MESTRENGTH.)
It’s no secret that team aSweatLife loves itself a session or two of intense weightlifting at Hardpressed. These workouts are a part of a mix of workouts that keep us strong, healthy and lean. But we’re all, I think, still trying to figure out the recovery thing. This is, of course, based on a variety of team members telling stories of reclining (read: laying on the floor) post-workout in that gym’s locker room.
Recovery through rest and proper nutrition can help you experience more benefits from your workout. Drinks like MESTRENGTH incorporate electrolytes and nutrients like creatine to help you recover post-workout. But when people pick up the small, powdered packet of MESTRENGTH at #Sweatworking events and notice that the drink has five grams of creatine per serving, we ultimately hear the question, “What’s that?”
Creatine is a misunderstood supplement, often associated with beefcake weight-room bros, but the benefits extend to athletes doing more than just beach-bulking. Based on a lot of science, it can help you do more when you’re at the gym.
There are some insanely complicated energy systems at work when you’re exercising. Powering every muscle contraction is a very important molecule: Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). I bring up ATP, the powerhouse of the body, because creatine is important to the synthesis of ATP. Your body needs to make ATP in order for you to use ATP.
According to a study by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “it is generally accepted that its supplementation increases creatine storage and promotes a faster regeneration of adenosine triphosphate between high intensity exercises. These improved outcomes will increase performance and promote greater training adaptations. “ That translates to a quicker recovery time and more work put in at the gym.
The benefits, studies suggest, are felt most in quick bursts of exercise, or when one is working anaerobically.
Prepare for science.
While you’re working out aerobically – or at a sustainable pace – your body creates ATP using oxygen as quickly as your body uses it. When you’re in the midst of an intense bout of HIIT – or any anaerobic activity that can be sustained for 90 seconds or less, like sprinting 200 meters – the process of synthesizing ATP is done without oxygen (anaerobically) using glycogen or creatine phosphate. You can read more about those complicated/fascinating energy systems here.
Because creatine in the body is used to synthesize ATP, a little extra creatine on hand can help produce extra ATP. This extra energy can help athletes to feel like they can do more.
Some studies even suggest that the supplement can help you bounce back more quickly. Livestrong quoted the study I referenced by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, which said that as ATP regenerates more quickly, you could experience quicker recovery, allowing you to perform at a higher level in your next workout.
What all these studies are saying is that there’s a reason why you see creatine pop up in weight rooms: it seems to work. According to Men’s Health, “Americans use more than 4 million kilograms of creatine each year.” It’s like Walter White was manufacturing the stuff.
Like all things in life, though, one should practice healthy moderation with all supplements and other foods. The Mayo Clinic outlines doses based on different desired outcomes.
- To rapidly increase muscle: 9-25 grams or 0.25-0.3 gram/kilogram of creatine by mouth daily for 4-7 days.
- For enhanced athletic performance: 2-20 grams of creatine has been taken by mouth daily for five days to 12 weeks.
That smaller dosage is related more closely to increased performance and less so to that bulky, Jersey Shore build. Not into supplementing? You take in a little creatine from food sources too like meat and fish.
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