Question- So lately I have been looking into Creatine supplements. I am vegetarian (and mostly vegan) and currently take a raw vegan sprouted rice supplement. I am seeing results but I still feel that my meat eater friends have an edge on me. I am dairy-intolerant and thus stay away from whey supplements.
Answer- This is a very good question especially considering the amount of vegetarians and vegans in our society today. Being a vegan/ vegetarian and trying to build muscle is a challenge but it’s not impossible. Meat is obviously a very easy source of protein as most meats contain large amounts of it so those of us who do eat meat, have no problem taking in an adequate amount of protein (and creatine, which I’ll get to). There are many sources of protein from which a vegan can choose but the problem is they aren’t as dense as meat. Beans, for example, are a great source or protein but one would have to eat an entire bag to get an equivalent amount of protein from a small piece of chicken. The key with a vegan or vegetarian is in the approach to the diet. The person has to pay more attention to the diet and focus on variety and eating frequently throughout the day. I know that the question had more to do with creatine supplementation but the proper creatine supplementation also requires proper protein intake so I felt that it was important to mention that first.
Now, onto the creatine. There are all kinds of conflicting information on all of the different supplements, including creatine. In my experience as well as from the reading that I have done, creatine does work. Creatine is an organically produced substance in the body. Creatine essentially assists in the force production within the muscles. Creatine doesn’t directly create strength but rather gives a person a little bit more energy for their workouts. The extra energy expended during the workout will then result in increased strength and muscle mass so this is where creatine helps. While creatine is a supplement that works, it’s not a miracle product and you should carefully follow the directions as excessive use can cause a strain on the liver. Creatine monohydrate has been shown to be the most effective synthetically produced creatine product on the market so I would go with that if I were going to start supplementing with it.
As I mentioned before, creatine is produced naturally but it is also found in meat and fish. This makes it especially hard for you on a vegan/ vegetarian diet as you lose out on a major source of creatine. Creatine supplementation can be very beneficial for you specifically because you may be at a creatine deficiency. In addition to the creatine, I would recommend a few things to compliment it’s use. As I mentioned before, try to have protein regularly throughout the day, amino acid supplements, specifically L-Glutamine is also recommended. I’d also recommended a multivitamin supplement be included as well. Creatine will initially give the appearance of extra size because it does cause the muscles to retain water so just be sure to drink lots of water. I hope this helps.