What Does Creatine Do To Your Body?

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

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Have you ever wondered if creatine and its effectiveness live up to the hype?

And is it even worth it to invest in this supplement?

Well, before you go on to do so, it’s of the essence to get educated about creatine, what it is, and what types of creatine supplements are the most effective.

In this article, we’re going to give you insight into just that and answer common questions, such as:

  1. What does creatine do to your body?
  2. What are the side effects of creatine?
  3. What are the best creatine supplements?

Without further ado, let’s dive right into the topic by first covering some fundamentals.

What Is Creatine?

Phosphocreatine, also known as creatine, is a substance that is found in your body, and mostly in your muscles. 

It’s also found in foods like red meat and fish. 

Your body uses creatine to make ATP, a molecule that carries energy in your cells.

ATP is important for many things in your body, including muscle contraction and brain function. 

When the body cannot regenerate ATP as effectively, you reach fatigue quicker during vigorous exercise. 

This is why creatine is often used as a supplement to improve exercise performance and increase energy levels.

Creatine can be taken in several forms, including powder, capsules, and liquids. 

It’s also sometimes added to energy drinks, pre-workout supplements, and protein powders.

Creatine is one of the most popular supplements on the market. 

It’s often used by athletes, bodybuilders, and people who want to gain muscle mass.

Research has shown that creatine is safe and effective for most people. [1] 

Training & Energy Production

When we exercise, our bodies need to produce energy to fuel the work being done. 

The energy for this comes from three main sources: creatine, carbohydrates, and fats. 

The body will use all three of these energy sources during exercise, but the distribution will depend on the intensity of the activity. 

Now let’s have a look at the energy-producing molecules and the processes happening in the context of high-intensity weight training.


During intense exercise, the body first uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy. 

This is the primary energy source for the body during exercise.

However, due to its limited storage, ATP is quickly depleted in the first couple of seconds of intense work. 

The body then turns to other energy sources, for fuel, with the first one being… Creatine! 


Right after the first couple of seconds of intense activity, the body turns to its secondary energy storage in order to grant the energy needed to sustain the activity – creatine.

To get a bit more technical, the body takes a phosphate molecule, binds it to the byproduct of ATP, and with this pathway, grants enough ATP to sustain the activity.

However, much like ATP, naturally synthesized creatine in the body is relatively limited, which is why it only grants enough resources for another 5-10 seconds of intense work.

What creatine does is it saturates your body’s creatine stores, providing more resources for high-intensity work and, therefore, increasing your strength, and strength endurance and delaying intra-workout fatigue.

After creatine is depleted, the body then turns to muscle glycogen for energy.

Muscle glycogen is basically the stored version of carbohydrates stored in the muscles and liver.

Here’s a hint for you: Optimal training performance is largely about a proper creatine & carb load!

The two C’s of training.

What Does Creatine Do To Your Body?

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Now the question at hand – what does creatine do to your body?

In essence, as you learned, creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body, but it is also available in the form of supplements. 

What it does is it simply grants energy for sustained high-intensity performance. 

As a secondary result of this improved high-intensity performance, you will notice plenty of benefits.

Here are just to name a few.

#1 Increased Strength

When it comes to fitness supplements, creatine is one of the most popular options on the market. 

One of the reasons for its popularity is that it has been shown to be effective in increasing strength. 

In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, participants who took creatine showed a significant increase in their bench press 1-RM, as opposed to the placebo group. [2]

This is likely due to the fact that creatine helps to replenish ATP levels in muscles, providing an immediate source of energy for lifting heavier weights. 

#2 Increased Strength Endurance

Besides helping for increased maximum strength during high-intensity, powerlifting style performance, creatine may also be an excellent supplement in the context of strength endurance.

In essence, this may mean that during your 5-10 rep max lifts, you will be able to lift heavier weights, or simply, you will find it easier to lift the weights you’ve worked with so far for a couple of extra reps.

Both of these benefits are tightly linked to the third and perhaps most important for all of us.

#3 Increased Muscle Mass

We all know the fundamental principle of gaining muscle – progressive overload.

That is, progressively increasing the tension placed upon the muscles, be it via an increase in weight, reps, or sets.

And well, creatine helps you do just that because it allows you to basically do more total work.

In essence, creatine does not have a direct impact on muscle growth, but it has an indirect such because it makes for greater training stimulus, therefore impacting muscle growth.

Side Effects Of Creatine

With all of the benefits listed above, it may seem like creatine is just too good to be true, so it begs the question – what are the side effects of creatine?

Well, increased muscle mass and strength are nice, but perhaps best of all, creatine is one of the safest supplements available, and if it is sourced properly, it has no side effects in healthy individuals.

A recent study on the safety of creatine from 2019 states the following:

Creatine supplements are considered safe and unlikely to cause renal damage. Reports of kidney damage associated with creatine use are insignificant, but for the public safety, people with chronic renal disease or those using potentially nephrotoxic medications should avoid using creatine supplements.” [3]

For these reasons, creatine is an excellent option for healthy trainees who are looking to improve their performance in the gym.

What Are The Best Creatine Supplements?

Creatine monohydrate is the most researched form of creatine and has been shown to be effective in numerous studies. 

In one study, creatine monohydrate was shown to improve overall exercise performance. [4]

In another study, creatine monohydrate was shown to have anti-sarcopenia (anti-muscle loss) effects on adults. [5]

Creatine monohydrate is also one of the most affordable creatine supplements, making it a great option for those on a budget. 

Overall, creatine monohydrate is an incredibly effective form of creatine that is backed by research and is very affordable.

So if you’re looking for a really effective supplement that lives up to the marketing hype, creatine monohydrate is the way to go, but you can feel free to try other creatine supplements, too!

Final Words

Even if you’re not a bodybuilder, creatine can be a great supplement to improve your workout results. 

It’s been shown to increase muscle mass, strength, and power in people of all ages. 

If you’re looking for an edge in your next workout, consider adding creatine to your routine.

What is your experience with creatine supplements? Comment below!

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