Real Facts and Myths About Creatine
Are you looking for a real facts and myths about creatine? For the last 20 years creatine has easily been the most popular sports supplement on the market. It is without a doubt the most talked-about supplement as well , which is known for providing a ton of benefits— including helping you build muscles and get stronger faster. Additionally, if your goal is to improve your overall body composition, creatine is your best bet. And the best part is it can help you develop your body naturally.
Even with all of the research that has been done on creatine, there is still a lot of confusion and mystery surrounding it. 90% of fitness enthusiasts still aren’t sure exactly what it is and how it works. With this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about creatine. We will dispel the many myths surrounding this mystery supplement and share with you a few guidelines to follow when taking it.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
- Creatine is a molecule naturally produced by the body and found in foods such as fish, eggs, and various meat sources. It helps reserve energy and is present in just about every cell in your body.
- Supplementing with creatine can increase the water content in your muscle cells, leading to increased strength and size in a short period of time. Different types of creatine supplements are available, including monohydrate, tri-creatine malate, ethyl ester, buffered creatine, and conjugated creatine, each with its own recommended dosage and usage guidelines.
- To get the most out of creatine, it’s important to follow dosage and usage guidelines, including loading phases and timing of consumption.
- Despite its popularity and widespread use, there are still many myths surrounding creatine, including concerns about side effects and misconceptions about its function.
- Creatine is a safe and effective supplement for improving athletic performance and overall body composition, but it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen.
What Is Creatine? Key facts to know
Before we can get into the meat and potatoes, let’s first clearly define what creatine is. Creatine is a molecule your body naturally produces. It is also found in foods such as fish, eggs and various meat sources. It is made up of the three main amino acids, namely glycine, L-arginine and L-methionine. This wonder molecule helps you reserve energy and is present it just about every cell in your body.
How Does Creatine Work?
Now that we know what it is, let’s discuss how it works. When it comes to cellular energy, adenosine triphosphate, also referred to as ATP, is the basic unit. Anytime a cell in your body uses an ATP molecule it gets broken down into smaller molecules. Once the molecules are broken down they go through a variety of different processes so can they can ultimately be recycled and reused. ATP is the immediate source of energy for all of your muscle cells. The more ATP your cells can store, the faster your body will be able to regenerate it. Creatine is what allows ATP to be quickly replenished.
The problem, however, is that your body has a very small reserve of creatine for your muscles to use. This small reserve will only supply you with a maximum of 15 seconds of power during your workouts. Once your immediate supply of creatine has been used up your body will be forced to use other sources of energy. This is why it is recommended you use a creatine supplement to increase the creatine stores in your body. When your muscles have quick and easy access to readily available energy you will be able to push even harder during your workouts.
According to research, by supplementing with creatine you increase the water content in your muscle cells. That leads to you getting bigger and stronger in a short period of time.
Understanding The Different Types of Creatine
While most people are familiar with creatine monohydrate, there are actually several other forms of the Creatine supplement you can purchase. We will primarily focus on 7 different versions of the supplement and how you should take them for maximum results.
This is the original version of creatine. It is found in powder form and has been used in various studies to demonstrate how beneficial creatine can be. In order for this version to be properly absorbed by your body it must be taken with sugar. For best results use a loading phase of 4 to 5 doses per day. Do this for a maximum of 5 days and then drop it down to once a day.
Tri-Creatine Malate is made up of Malic acid and Creatine Monohydrate: there is one molecule of Malic acid for every three creatine molecules. Malic acid helps to provide your body with the energy it needs. When combined with creatine monohydrate it becomes water soluble and can impact the ATP cycle in a more efficient manner. According to fitness experts, this form of creatine offers more bioavailability than regular creatine monohydrate. For best results take one serving per day.
The great thing about ethyl ester is that it doesn’t require any sugar or loading to be effective. As a matter of fact, you can take fewer grams of this supplement and still get the same results as any other forms of creatine. Ethyl ester is available in both pill and powder form and should only be taken twice per day.
At one point liquid creatine was very popular. However, due to its lack of stability more and more fitness enthusiasts are choosing not to use it.
Buffered creatine, also referred to as Kre-Alkayn, is one of the hottest creatines on the market right now. In fact, SO hot that it has a patent on it. The one thing that makes this form of creatine insanely popular is its ability to quickly convert creatine to creatinine. This is why you will often see manufacturers recommending you drink this supplement within 10 minutes of mixing it, which will allow you to get the full impact as quickly as possible. For best results take 1 to 2 grams of buffered creatine serving in the morning and another 1 to 2 grams right before you train.
While monohydrate and buffered are very popular forms of creatine, conjugated is without a doubt the most popular of them all. If you look at some of the newer versions of creatine you will see they tend to focus only on a few basic issues such as dosing, side effects and absorption. Conjugated creatine is concentrated which means you only need to take a micro dose of this supplement to get the full affect. Add that to the fact it has superior absorption and no known side effects and you have yourself a very powerful form of creatine supplement.
The last type of creatine supplement we will discuss is micronized. When compared to other forms this version produces the smallest particles. Micronized creatine has two primary goals: to improve overall absorption and to mix easier. Each serving of Micronized Creatine is 5 grams: If you’ve opted for this supplement, it is recommended that you drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water everyday.
What is The Best Type of Creatine?
If you spend a little time researching on all the various forms of creatine you will see monohydrate will almost always come out on top. True, it may not get all the fanfare it truly deserves but there is a reason it is still the number one choice by those who love to workout. And the reason is simple: it flat out works. Additionally, it is effective, can be easily tolerated and is very affordable. It is considered the gold standard of creatine supplements— and that won’t be changing anytime soon. If by chance creatine monohydrate causes you to have an upset stomach, consider using micronized creatine as it is more water soluble.
How To Take Creatine?
According to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, 5 grams of creatine per day is the optimal amount to consume. If you are new to taking creatine consider a method known as loading. With loading you will start by taking 20 grams of creatine per day for up to 7 days. After the initial 7 days you will start taking 5 grams per day. Studies show using this method will cause creatine to make its way into your muscles quicker which means you will be able to reap the benefits of creatine within a shorter period of time. To increase muscle absorption you must take creatine with a protein and carbohydrate source. If your goal is to increase strength and gains, take creatine after your workout. Studies show taking creatine post workout can increase its effectiveness manifold.
To Cycle or Not To Cycle?
Creatine is not steroids, which means there is no need to cycle to get the best results. Unlike steroids, creatine does not shut down your endocrine system. Though your body naturally produces creatine, it follows a very demanding process. When you use a creatine supplement your body will automatically reduce the amount of creatine it naturally produces. As soon as you stop taking a creatine supplement your body will kick back into gear and pick up where it left off. If nothing else, that goes to show you just how amazing your body is.
Most Common Myths About Creatine
Given that creatine is so popular it’s not surprising there are so many false myths surrounding it. We felt it important to dispel the 2 most common myths with regard to creatine so you get to know the truth and nothing but the truth.
Myth 1: Creatine is Bad For Your Kidneys
This just may be by far the most popular common myth associated with creatine. Truth is, creatine is not bad for your kidneys. As long as you have healthy kidneys you should be doing just fine. And according to Legion Athletics, even if your kidneys are impaired in some way, the chances of you experiencing any problems with creatine are unlikely. A study done on a young man with a single kidney showed 20 grams of creatine serving per day caused no harm. With that being said, if you do have kidney issues be sure to check with your doctor before taking creatine.
One of the reasons so many people believe creatine is bad for the kidneys is because of a substance known as creatinine. When your body metabolizes creatine it creates creatinine. If you are a sedentary person, having high levels of creatinine in your system can be a sign that you are experiencing kidney problems. If, on the other hand, you are someone who works out on a regular basis and are supplementing with creatine, having high levels of creatinine is normal.
Myth 2: Creatine causes bloating
Another common myth is that creatine causes bloating. While bloating was once a problem for those taking creatine, now with improved processing, it is no longer an issue. When you supplement with creatine you should see no difference in the amount of subcutaneous water your body holds on to.
While bloating and kidney problems are the two most common myths surrounding the use of creatine, there are also a few others you should be aware of.
Myth 3: Creatine Is a Steroid
Given that creatine is an amino acid, there is no way it can be a steroid. It is chemically impossible.
Myth 4: Creatine Will Stunt The Growth of Teenagers
Another ridiculous myth is that creatine will stunt the growth of teenagers. As stated before, your body naturally produces creatine. That means it is already present in all humans, teenagers included. It, therefore, does not and cannot stunt growth.
Myth 5: Creatine Is Not Safe For Women
It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, if your goal is to get stronger and build lean muscle mass, creatine is a safe and effective option. Most women will opt not to use creatine because they believe it will cause them to get big and bulky like a man. This is yet another myth that has no substance. As a woman you don’t have the genetic make up to get big and bulky. You would either have to eat 5000 calories per day or you would have to take steroids to bulk up like a man. Weight lifting and creatine will not make you big and bulky. It will, on the other hand, help you carve out a sexy, toned body.
Creatine Side Effects
As long as you are a healthy individual and taking the recommended dosage, creatine should be safe to use. One thing you should watch out for, however, is dehydration. When you take creatine it will draw water out of your muscles. In short, if you aren’t drinking plenty of water you may find yourself severely dehydrated. One thing to keep in mind is the lack of regulation in the supplement industry. Always make sure you are buying a reputable brand. Following this practice will lessen the amount of toxins and impurities found in the product you are using.
GI distress is another common side effect of creatine. One way to avoid this is to take creatine with food. You can also take a different form of creatine in an effort to eliminate this reaction. Overall, creatine is a safe supplement to take. However, just to be safe it is recommended you see your doctor before you start taking it.
Creatine and Weight Loss
While most people use creatine to build muscle mass and strength, the reality is it’s also great for those looking to lose weight and lean out. While Creatine is known to help you build muscles it also helps you lose weight. As you very well know, muscle burns fat. When you start packing on muscle you will eventually end up with a higher muscle to fat ratio. As a result your metabolism will start to speed up and you will start burning more fat throughout the day.
When you are trying to lose weight you will more than likely be in a caloric deficit. Creatine will help you preserve both muscle and strength while your caloric intake is low. This is the key to not only losing weight, but doing it in a way that optimizes your body composition. Some people, especially women, do a ton of cardio when they are trying to lose weight. And while they will lose weight, they also tend to lose a lot of muscle. This is why you often see the skinny fat look with a lot of loose skin.
This result can be attributed to lack of muscle. Creatine will not only help you preserve muscle, but it will also help you build new muscle. The more muscle you can hold onto while you are leaning out, the better your body will look. Whether you are bulking or trying to lose weight, the amount of creatine you take will remain the same. The key is to be consistent with your diet, your workouts and your supplementation. Yes, you will put on muscle, but you will also lean out which will help you create the ripped physique you are after.
Creatine and Muscle Strength
It’s no secret using creatine can help you pack on some serious muscle. But what about strength? Will you get stronger as a result of taking creatine? The answer is yes! When you take creatine you are basically enhancing the production of muscle cell energy. Creatine kinase, which is a regulating enzyme, helps break down the creatine in your body. It works by separating the creatine molecule from the phosphate molecule. The phosphate molecule will then bind with ADP and create ATP or adenosine triphosphate, which we discussed earlier. This process basically gives your body the ability to create a fresh batch of ATP in as little as 5 minutes.
That means while you are resting in between sets, your body is creating new ATP which will help you push even harder on your next set. The bottom line is this, the more creatine you have available in your body, the better workout you will be able to get. You will be able to not only train harder, but for a longer period of time. This, of course, will lead to bigger muscles, more strength and improved overall performance. But that’s not all creatine can do. Creatine is also a volumizer and causes your muscles to expand by pulling water into every muscle cell, leading to bigger muscles and more strength. While Nitric Oxide products have gained a lot of popularity in this category of late, truth be told, creatine was the first product to increase muscle size and strength at the same time.
Some will argue any gains you make as a result of using creatine will quickly fade once you stop using the product. To a point, they are correct. But that goes for anything in life. If you stop working out and eating right you will eventually gain back all the weight you lost. The same goes for the sport of bodybuilding. If you stop training you will at some point start to lose size. If you stop taking protein you will lose size. That’s just the basics of anatomy. You can’t expect your body to maintain a certain physique if you are no longer training and supplementing in a certain way.
The good news, however, is you won’t lose everything. Yes you will lose some size, but you will also maintain quite a bit of size as well. Most people will cycle their creatine use and take a 4 to 6 week break in between. Any loss of size will usually take place during this 4 to 6 week window. Once you cycle back on you will gain everything back and then some. This is how bodybuilders continue to get bigger and bigger over time.
The Bottom Line
Creatine is one of the most popular bodybuilding supplements in the world for one reason…It works! It is one of the only supplements on the market that can have a direct impact on muscle size and strength in a safe manner. It’s also known to improve your overall anaerobic performance.
If you are someone who hits the gym on a regular basis, you should be taking creatine. Even if you aren’t working out everyday, there are still many benefits to taking creatine. For example, one study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Health Sciences showed that elderly individuals can use creatine to help prevent muscle loss that is usually associated with aging. Creatine can also help improve their overall quality of life.
So there you have it, a quick overview of what creatine is, how it works and how it can help you build the physique of your dreams. Start taking 5 grams of creatine everyday and you will soon notice a difference in how your body looks and feels.
Is creatine safe?
Creatine is considered safe for most people when taken in recommended doses. However, it may cause mild side effects, such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and muscle cramps, in some individuals.
Can creatine help me build muscle?
Yes, creatine can help increase muscle mass, but it works best with regular strength training. It can also improve performance during high-intensity exercise.
Will creatine make me gain weight?
Creatine can cause an increase in body weight due to water retention in the muscles. However, this is usually temporary and not significant weight gain.
Should women take creatine?
Yes, women can safely take creatine, which can improve muscle mass, strength, and performance.
Does creatine cause kidney damage?
No evidence suggests that creatine causes kidney damage in healthy individuals. However, people with pre-existing kidney problems should avoid taking creatine.
Is it necessary to cycle creatine?
Cycling creatine means taking it for a period and then stopping for a period before resuming. However, it is unnecessary to cycle creatine, and it can be taken continuously for long periods without any adverse effects.
Can I take creatine with other supplements?
Creatine can be safely taken with other supplements, such as protein powder, BCAAs, and pre-workout supplements. However, it is always best to consult a healthcare professional before taking new supplements.
Can creatine help with brain function?
Some studies suggest that creatine may have neuroprotective effects and could help improve cognitive function, especially in older adults. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.