Creatine is a supplement which scares away many users who believe it to be a poor choice for their health or even an anabolic steroid (it's not).
Many people claim it causes a number of digestive, liver, or kidney problems. Others have said it caused weight gain and cramping. The list goes on of kidney damage, liver damage, kidney stones, and bloating.
Despite the negative myths surrounding creatine, numerous researchers and the International Society of Sports Nutrition claim creatine to be extremely safe based on their evidence from long term studies.
It has also been used to treat muscle loss, neuro-muscular disorders, concussions, and diabetes.
What is it?
Creatine is made of arginine, glycine, and methionine - three different amino acids (natural compounds which protein is composed of). It offers a variety of benefits to the body, including increased energy.
Is it Natural?
Creatine is actually found in the body and produced naturally from amino acids. It's also gained from those on diets with meat, cheese, and fish - however the amount in the food is much smaller than in the supplement.
A body will usually have about 120 mmol/kg, but supplements can elevat this by 20-30 mmol/kg.
What does it do?
Creatine stored in the body is used to help produce more energy for your muscles. The majority of it is stored in the muscles.
Even though there are numerous myths surrounding dehydration, many studies have shown that it doesn't increase the chances of dehydration, cramps, and injuries.
Weight gain can be a side effect of creatine, however it's not body fat. The majority of the weigh gain in the short term is due to an increase in water weight in the muscles, and in the long term, due to increased muscle growth.
Creatine can increase the amount of creatinine in the blood, but this doesn't translate to being harmful for the liver or kidneys. Numerous studies dispel this myth. One can test this by using biological markers in the urine (there will be no difference in creatine ingestion).
Just like with other supplements, it can cause digestive problems if using in excess. The recommended service is 3-5 grams, and when one goes over 5 grams per serving, the chance of diarrhea can increase by 37%.
What are the benefits?
1. Long Lasting Energy
The largest benefit of creatine is giving your body the ability to increase your amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a large source of energy during exercise and lack of ATP causes fatigue during exercise.
Creatine is an additional energy source for the body, allowing longer lasting energy.
2. Muscle Growth
Creatine increases the amount of water in muscles. This pushes your muscles to add size, and growth.
Certain research also demonstrates that creatine may decrease the molecule that causes stunted muscle growth.
It's also been shown to increase lean weight, while increasing the muscle size in a week time span.
3. Increased Strength
Various studies demonstrate that people who use creatine during exercise have a 10% increase in strength versus non-users.
Exercise depletes your ATP, and creatine fights back against this - and fatigue.
4. Improve Power
In addition to increasing strength, creatine's affect on ATP can improve other factors, like sprinting ability, recovery, fatigue, ballistic power, and even brain performance.
One study demonstrated performance was boosted by 15%.
6. Brain Functions
A lesser known benefit of creatine is the affect it has on the brain. Given that creatine increases the level of phosphocreatine in the brain, it may help reduce or slow disease progression of neurological diseases (which can be caused by a reduction of phosphocreatine).
It may help with neuological diseases, such as alzheimer's, ischemic, epilepsy, and brain / spinal cord injuries.
This can be one of the most compelling reasons to use creatine, as it constantly fights neuron death and protects your brain.
Despite all the evidence, it's always best to consult your healthcare professional before taking supplements.