First off, creatine is an amino acid that is found in both our muscles and brain. Our bodies make about 1 gram of creatine per day, which is not sufficient to make any serious gains on its own. It is stored as phosphocreatine and can later be used for energy. Since our bodies can only readily produce 1-gram, active people will often supplement creatine into their daily diets. Creatine is mostly used to increase muscle mass but may also be used for medicinal purposes like treating brain disorders, CHF (congestive heart failure) and even aging skin (as a topical solution).
While creatine offers medicinal purposes, it’s main use is for adding muscle mass when taken along with additional strength training and progressive overload. Progressive overloading is a gradual increase in repetitions during strength training. For example, if you are doing 2 sets of 12 reps during month one, then the next month you would increase to 2 sets of 14 and so on. This puts an “overload” on your muscles and helps improve strength over time.
When it comes to taking creatine, it is important to note any interactions that may alter the effects of the supplement, like caffeine. Caffeine intake greater than 300mg per day is one of the top interactions that may decrease the effectiveness of creatine. However, consuming 300mg of caffeine occasionally is not as worrisome as consuming that amount daily alongside creatine.
Now, the burning question, is creatine necessary? If strength training and muscle growth is your goal then sure, supplementing creatine will benefit you. However, for the average human, no, our bodies can produce it on its own and consuming meats like beef, pork and fish will help boost the amount stored in your body. Investing in a creatine supplement would not be very money savvy for someone who isn’t also training or progressively overloading their muscles. Creatine tends to be a pricier item, so if your budget allows then go ahead and try it out, but also know that muscle growth is just as obtainable through a diet that focuses on protein intake.