How much do you know about creatine?

The jury has been in on creatine for a while — it works. Here's what you should know about this muscle-building supplement.

Why is creatine such a popular weightlifting supplement? Simple. It’s been widely researched and proven to deliver impressive results. Creatine, a natural substance found in red meat and fish can reduce fatigue and increase performance during high-intensity exercise and activities. But that’s just scratching the surface.

Here are 6 tidbits about creatine every weightlifter should know.

Creatine Aids Strength Gains

The buzz around creatine’s muscle-building prowess isn’t hype, says personal trainer Lisa Lynn, author of The Metabolism Solution. But only if creatine is used with a strict diet and training routine. So if you had visions of taking creatine, snapping your fingers and getting ripped, snap out of it.

you'll Likely Gain Water Weight

A case study done by researchers at Quinnipiac University suggests that using a creatine supplement can translate to a one to three-pound weight gain within the first week of use due to water retention. “It’s nothing to be alarmed about,” explains Lynn. “Hopefully that extra weight will translate into heavier lifts ”

Plus, once you stop using creatine the water weight will recede. Guess what won’t? The strength and muscle gains.

Creatine is Good for Your Brain

Creatine can help boost brain function and memory, and potentially help treat depression,” explains Lynn. “Many depressed people don’t feel like moving. But when you move more you feel better, and when you feel better you move more. Creatine provides extra energy for more movement.

Stick with the Powder

Creatine can come in powder, pill, and liquid form. Your best bet, according to Lynn, is powder. “The basic and simple form of creatine monohydrate is the best,” says Lynn. “The powder is the most usable by the body. The creatine that’s found in candy bars is most likely not going to supply you with the high-end, quality creatine you’re looking for.”

Mix with Water or Protein Shake

Lynn recommends taking creatine with water or a protein shake over mixing it with fruit juice. “Some people take it with juice in an effort to get the creatine into the bloodstream faster, but creatine gets in there pretty fast by itself,” she says. Additionally, juices contain more sugar and calories.