Are you ready to bust some myths and get the real scoop on one of the most popular supplements out there? I’m talking about creatine, baby!
Despite its widespread use, there are still tons of misconceptions floating around about this natural substance that’s already present in your body. So, let’s set the record straight once and for all!
In this article, we’ll be debunking the five most common myths about creatine and providing you with the truth. You may have heard that creatine causes weight gain, cramping, or even kidney and liver damage. But hold up, my friend! None of that has been scientifically proven.
In fact, research shows that creatine is one of the safest sports supplements you can take, as long as you use it under supervision. And get this, it might even help prevent neurological disorders and manage blood sugar levels! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – we need more research to back those claims up.
With all the confusion surrounding creatine, it’s no wonder some folks are hesitant to try it out. But fear not, my fitness friends! I’m here to break it all down for you, from how creatine affects your body to its benefits and potential side effects.
So sit back, relax, and get ready to become a creatine pro!
What is Creatine – A Quick Run Through
Creatine also 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 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.
Some of the Common Myths Around Creatine: Explained
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:
1. Creatine Upsets Your Stomach
While there is some truth associated with this, 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.
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.
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 of flushing 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.
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 in incomplete body mass also increased alongside a one-rep max.
With 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.
3. Enhanced muscle mass
Creatine has been found to promote muscle growth by increasing water content in muscle cells, leading to cell swelling and the subsequent stimulation of protein synthesis 1 This increased muscle mass may also contribute to increased strength and performance.
4. Improved anaerobic endurance
Creatine supplementation can enhance anaerobic endurance by reducing muscle fatigue and increasing the capacity for high-intensity exercise. One study found that creatine supplementation increased subjects’ ability to maintain a high level of power output during repeated sprint cycling 2
5. Faster muscle recovery
Creatine has been suggested to promote faster muscle recovery by reducing inflammation and muscle damage markers after intense exercise. A study conducted by Santos and colleagues (2004) found that creatine supplementation reduced the levels of creatine kinase, a marker of muscle damage, after a marathon race.
5. Enhanced cognitive performance
Creatine supplementation has been associated with improvements in cognitive performance, particularly in tasks that require short-term memory and quick thinking. Rae and colleagues (2003) found that creatine supplementation improved cognitive performance in healthy individuals, particularly in tasks that demanded a high workload on working memory.
Precautions to Take with Creatine
Many people assume that Creatine supplementation will put them to extreme thirst,
Let’s address how? Creatine being a 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 creatinine 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 the 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!
Thus, we’ve discussed several common myths and misconceptions surrounding creatine, and hopefully, we’ve been able to shed some light on the truth. Despite some of the widespread misinformation out there, creatine is a safe and effective supplement that has been extensively researched and studied.
We’ve debunked the myth that creatine is harmful to your kidneys, explained why you don’t need to load up on it for it to be effective, and dispelled the idea that it only benefits bodybuilders and weightlifters. We’ve also discussed how creatine can be used to enhance cognitive function and improve overall health.
It’s important to remember that while creatine is a supplement that can be useful in certain situations, it’s not a magic bullet. Like any supplement, it should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise routine. Additionally, it’s always important to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.
So, let’s put these myths to rest and embrace the benefits of creatine supplementation. Whether you’re an athlete looking to improve your performance or just looking for a way to enhance your overall health, creatine is a safe and effective option that shouldn’t be overlooked.
On a serious note, It’s time to actually realise the worth of creatine and wipe off all baseless myths from our minds.Click here to buy the best creatine supplements.
What is the controversy with creatine?
The compound has not been outlawed by sports authorities because it is not considered a drug, but some people say it should be banned, arguing that it’s a performance-enhancing substance that may add an unfair advantage. Others contend creatine is just a nutritional supplement.
Are there any negatives to taking creatine?
The most commonly reported side effects of taking this supplement are bloating and stomach discomfort. You can prevent these side effects by limiting your dose to 10 grams or less in a single serving. Taking creatine supplements is otherwise safe and healthy for most people.
Can creatine cause problems in the future?
Creatine is a safe, well-studied supplement. Studies in a variety of people have shown no detrimental health effects of taking creatine supplements in doses up to 4–20 grams per day for 10 months to 5 years
Does creatine increase testosterone?
No, Creatine does not increase testosterone levels. It’s a common misconception though, and there are quite a few reasons as to why people may think that. Creatine has a lot of benefits that look similar to increased testosterone, increased energy, increased muscle growth, strength etc.
When should I stop taking creatine?
You can stop supplementing anytime you want. But your muscles’ creatine levels will start to deplete about two weeks after you stop taking it. In 4-6 weeks, the extra creatine will wash out of your muscles altogether, and your body will be back at producing its baseline level of 1-2 grams a day.
Does creatine affect sleep?
Key takeaways. Creatine supplementation increases creatine stores in the brain. By reducing the accumulation of adenosine and adenosine triphosphate in the brain during wakefulness, creatine supplementation seems to reduce sleep depth, duration, and “rebound sleep” after sleep deprivation.
- Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.[↩]
- Greenhaff, P. L., Casey, A., Short, A. H., Harris, R., Söderlund, K., & Hultman, E. (1993). Influence of oral creatine supplementation on muscle torque during repeated bouts of maximal voluntary exercise in man. Clinical Science, 84(5), 565-571.[↩]