Creatine is the LeBron James of supplements, says Rehan Jalali, certified sports nutritionist and President of the Supplement Research Foundation. “It’s the most research-proven sports supplement on the market today, with hundreds of clinical studies showing that it can enhance lean body mass, increase strength, enhance energy levels, and increase muscle size.” It works by helping produce energy for your muscle tissue to use to churn out those last few reps.
But while the research does show that creatine can help you lose fat (thereby showing off your muscles better), the level of bulk benefit varies greatly from person to person, says Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, C.S.C.S., Director of Performance Nutrition at Precision Nutrition. And an analysis of 22 creatine supplement studies in the did indeed find results to be highly individualized. On average, though, the paper found that those who took creatine were 8% stronger on their max load and able to complete 14% more reps. By itself, the supplement isn't going to cause you to pack on slabs of muscle, says St. Pierre. But when used with resistance training, it will probably help you shed fat and the increase in strength and power output can certainly help muscle growth.
Take the supplement after your workout rather than before, though. A study in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition found that men gained more strength, muscle mass, and lean mass when taking the supplement after the gym instead of before. Most research suggests you should take 20 to 30 grams per day for up to a week and then back off to 2 to 3 grams daily after that.
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