Creatine is one of the most consumed fitness supplement available in the market today. Despite its prosperity, some people prefer to bypass creatine because they have multiple misconceptions leading them to perceive creatine as an unsafe supplement which is completely atrocious to their health.
Some of the most common misconceptions with regards to creatine are, creatine causes weight gain, leads to cramping and digestive system issues, and also have an ill-effect on liver and kidney. However, scientific study is yet to prove any of the misconceptions mentioned above.
Surprisingly, research actually claims creatine is one of the safest sports supplement and does not cause damage to health when consumed under supervision.
Moreover, recent studies on creatine claim that Creatine helps in preventing neurological disorders and managing blood sugar levels nonetheless, a more in-depth research is required on the matter to verify such claims.
Even with so much misconception and baseless confusion amongst consumers, Creatine continues to be one of the most talked and consumed sports supplements by fitness enthusiast.
Penning down this article as an attempt to provide you with a detailed break down on what creatine is? how creatine affects your body? and how creatine works as a Sport Supplement? Let’s get answered to each of these and clear the air for a clear understanding of creatine uses benefits and side effects.
What is Creatine?
Creatine also is known as creatine monohydrate in the bodybuilding community is a substance found naturally in muscle cells, Chemically speaking it is very similar to amino acids. Your body synthesises creatine from 3 amino acids namely: Glycine, arginine and methionine. Creatine is produced in the body in small amounts and is excreted on a regular basis.
There are several factors that affect your body’s creatine store. About 95% of your body’s creatine is actually stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. The other 5% is found in your brain, kidneys and liver.
Creatine is naturally present in the food such as meat, fish (mostly non-veg). However, to get the best out of their work-outs, many athletes and fitness enthusiasts prefer getting additional creatine in the form of dietary supplements. Its ability to improve muscle mass and enhance strength and workout performance is one of the key reasons why creatine is gaining prevalence.
Withal, there are still many misconceptions associated with creatine which are needed to be cleared for a better understanding of the creatine supplement.
Let’s make an evidence-based burst on most common misconception amongst consumers:
Myth 1: Creatine Upsets Your Stomach
While there is some truth associated with this, but in a healthy person, a compromised digestive system is a rare side effect. Studies show that when taking creatine as a supplement, only 5-7% of individuals who are already facing gastric complaints may experience diarrhoea, stomach or both.
If you know you’re susceptible to gastrointestinal upset, better to start with a small dosage of creatine and analyse your body’s response to it.
Here, it becomes mandatory to understand that creatine supplementation can cause some uneasiness amongst those with a suppressed digestive system but in a healthy person there is no such known contradiction till date.
Myth 2: Creatine Causes Fat and Weight Gain
This is another most common myth amongst consumers. Yes, when supplemented with creatine, individuals tend to demonstrate enhanced body fat percentages, but remember that correlation does not always reveal causation.
The reality is that most individuals who are adding creatine also try to bulk up, and with the added carbs in creatine, it is very likely the increased caloric intake might lead to excess body fat.
If you are looking for pure creatine monohydrate with a limited trace of carb and fat, you can try Optimum Nutrition’s micronized creatine monohydrate which contains “Creapure” which is remarkably the purest creatine supplement one can use.
Myth 3: Creatine Damages Healthy Kidneys
Here’s an unproven theory that emerges from the concept that when a byproduct of phosphocreatine and blood creatinine rises in the body, the kidneys get damaged.
However, for this, there has been little to almost no validation. A research found that after a week of successful supplementation of 20 grams of creatine monohydrate per day, the renal activity showed no significant change in averagely healthy individuals.
This is true that Supplementing creatine will definitely raise creatinine to a slight extent but that definitely does not mean that it is harming your healthy kidneys.
Studies approve that healthy kidneys are capable to flush this extra dose from your blood efficiently. In other words, there is no point to worry about creatine damaging your kidneys unless you have a pre-existing kidney complaint.
Myth 4: Creatine Causes Excessive Water Retention
Another most attention gained myth! A recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that test subjects did not show significant increases in body water after three months of use of creatine, Rather greater gains in fat-free mass and total body mass showed up in creatine group.
Studies confirm that there is a fair possibility that soft and puffy look from water gains may result from some inferior-grade creatine. However, this could be due to various reasons. Here, it’s important to understand that it may not be due to the creatine, but due to excess sodium. In cheaply manufactured creatine, it is most obvious that excess sodium remains.
So, to overcome this myth it is better to pick the best quality authentic creatine mono-hydrate supplement and not the locally prepared ones!
How does Creatine Monohydrate Help in Bodybuilding?
Fitness experts and bodybuilders supplement creatine with workouts to produce extra energy in the muscles during heavy lifting and intense workout.
Intake of Creatine escalates phosphocreatine (a stored form of energy in the cells) in the body, This additional increase of phosphocreatine results in an increase of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). To put it in simple terms, ATP is basically the body’s energy reserves. Availability of more ATP allows your body to perform a better workout. Creatine supplementation increases ATP in the body which leads to improved workout performance.
Ideally, ATP gets depleted after 8-10 seconds of a high-intensity workout but Creatine supplementation as a Pre-workout enables you to produce more ATP so that you are able to hold training sessions a little longer, thereby allowing improved strength and stamina.
Now, Let’s roll down our eye on evidence-based research to get a better understanding of how creatine works as a Sports supplement.
Benefits of Creatine for Muscle Gains and Performance
1.) Effect of Creatine on Muscle Gain
For both short and long term muscle growth, researchers found creatine to be very efficient.
- 14-week research in older adults found that adding creatine to a weight training program improved the power output and muscle mass considerably.
- In 12-week weightlifter research, creatine enhanced muscle fibre development 2–3 times more than the practice alone. The rise incomplete body mass also increased alongside a one-rep max.
With the evidence-based research, It is now fair to say that Creatine Supplementation can lead to important muscle mass, This refers to both athletes who are untrained and elite.
2.) Effect on Strength and Exercise Performance
Various studies concluded that Creatine can improve strength, power and high-intensity exercise performance:
- An evaluation discovered that adding creatine to workout session leads to increased overall performance by 8%, where weight lifting production was found to be increased by 14% and bench pressing one-rep max was found to be increased by 13%.
- In well-trained strength athletes, 28 days of adding 15% enhanced bike-sprinting performance and 6% bench-press performance Creatine also helps maintain strength and training efficiency while enhancing muscle mass during high-intensity exercise.
These noticeable improvements are primarily caused by your body’s increased capacity to produce ATP.
Precautions to Take with Creatine
Many people assume that Creatine supplementation will put them to extreme thirst,
Let’s address how? Creatine being very hydrophilic molecule attracts to itself large quantities of water. Which is then stored in your muscles. Intake of high doses of purified creatine significantly boosts the body’s water demand. If sufficient water is not consumed with creatine supplements, dehydration may occur particularly during sessions of intense workout or warm weather. Not all fitness experts agree, however, on the role of creatine in dehydration.
A study conducted by the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” concluded that Creatine supplementation can effectively increase athletic efficiency in warm weather by retaining red blood cell content in the body and maintaining body temperature by lowering body’s heart and sweat rate. The study does not support the plea about dehydration.
So, to get the most of your fitness training make sure you stay hydrated, no need to over-do with your water intake, Just a genuine hydration is more than enough!
Despite so much research quoting Creatine as one of the safest sports supplement, people continue to believe their misconceptions and avoid this mighty sport-supplement which may prove to be a wonderful kick to their workout regime.
On a serious note, It’s time to actually realise the worth of creatine and wipe off all baseless myths from our minds.