Body fitness has become a craze for the current generation making supplements such as creatine a staple for many body building enthusiasts. Over the last decade creatine has become a popular supplement for people interested in building lean mass and building immense strength. I am sure you have seen it around or at least heard about it in the fitness scene.
Although its popularity is fast rising, many people are still very sceptical about creatine mostly because they lack a thorough understanding of what creatine is. This skepticism is very justified because you should know everything about a supplement before taking it; ascertain the risks and the benefits it has and then make an informed decision on whether it works for you. This article is a brief but detailed overview of what creatine is, what is does, benefits it gives you the user and also the side effects of creatine.
What is Creatine?
Is this the supplement for you? To decide you must first know what creatine actually is. Creatine is a natural nitrogenous acid which is produced naturally in the body-by the liver. Its role in the body is to supply energy to cells especially the muscle cells. With increased energy you can train harder for longer and hence produce faster results. Creatine is also present is some protein foods such as fish and meat and also through diet supplements. As a diet supplement, creatine is typically purchased in form of flavored powders that are mixed with liquids.
What you should not doubt is that creatine works! This can be verified by testimonials from body lifters and even experts who understand the science behind creatine as a body building supplement.
According to Chad Kersick a renowned professor of exercise physiology in University of Oklahoma, if you have the energy to lift heavier weights for a longer time, it is certain that your muscles will get bigger and stronger. Actually, according to reliable research, creatine is one of the most effective high intensity training energy-giving supplements in the market. This remarkable supplement can come in handy in a variety of sporting activities such as football, sprinting, baseball and in weight training. However, contrary to popular misconception there is substantial evidence that creatine improves performance or endurance.
What benefits can you get from using creatine as part of your body building and training regimen?
Creatine enables a high intensity work out
Because creatine aids in energy production for the muscle cells it ultimately strengthens muscular contractions of muscle fibers and helps you train harder, faster, do more repetitions and have the ability to engage in physically strenuous exercises.
Creatine will enhance athletic performance
As an athlete or a sports person your worst fear is probably lacking the energy to finish a race or losing the steam to perform well in your sport. Have no qualms because a California study proves that you creatine helps body muscles to produce phospocreatine which in turn increases the ability to perform at shorter, intense, strength-building exercises. Consider taking creatine if your sport or workout regimen involves many explosive and muscle straining activities.
Creatine will help you recover at a faster rate
Several reliable studies prove that creatine supplementation can significantly reduce both muscle cell damage and inflammation which are a common side effect of high intensity workout.
Creatine significantly boosts brain power
Reliable research done by Sidney University is Australia unequivocally established creatine comes in handy in boosting both memory and intelligence. Though the measurable boost is extremely a small margin this is definitely an added advantage of taking creatine.
If you have encountered creatine then am sure you have questioned the whether taking it is the right move. To help you determine whether taking creatine supplement is the right move for you; here are some of the potential side effects of taking creatine.
What are the side effects of talking Creatine?
There is always a downside to using any kind of supplement and creatine is no exception. Although as a body building enthusiasts you might think if it makes you bigger then it is absolutely risk-free, this is sadly not the case. To quote the sentiments of Dr Jim King the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, no one should consider using creatine even though it has been proven to aid in increasing strength and adding muscle mass. According to Dr King, a person should carefully weigh the side effects and the benefits before taking creatine.
Creatine can lead to overexertion which will cause torn muscles. This is because creatine gives you more energy to train more intensely and for a longer period of time hence increasing the chances of overexertion
Torn muscles are extremely painful and take time to heal and this can hinder great athletic performance. In extreme cases torn muscles can permanently hinder high performance physically.
Weight gain is sometimes not a desirable quality for body builders and sportspeople. The initial weight gain when you start taking creatine will be approximately 2-4 pounds. Scientifically speaking, the reason for the increase in weight is that creatine is osmotically active; therefore, it pulls water into muscles. This water weight has no role to play in enhancing performance. In order to replace the water weight with actual muscle fiber, you have to work out.
This is because children are still growing and there is no prove that can ascertain if creatine can alter bone development and growth. According to Dr King, taking creatine when underage can even cause permanent damage.
Can creatine have an adverse effect on your kidneys?
This is a common concern that many trainers and body building enthusiasts have. Researchers and experts are consistently conducting research to ascertain the safety and effectiveness of creatine. According to these studies:
- There is no research that has made any substantiated claim that creatine is unsafe
- Dr Paul Greenhaff who has actively been studying creatine for over 20 years now says that though some users report minimal cramping after using creatine, this is not a wide spread problem. According to him, if creatine had any detrimental or life threatening side effects, researchers would have come across them by now.
- However, there has been some anecdotal reports that creatine can cause kidney damage, dehydration, diarrhea, muscle pulls and muscle cramps, fatigue, anxiety and fever. However the evidence is anecdotal and not factually provable. According to the president of ConsumerLab.com, Tod Cooperman symptoms such as diarrhea and stomach issue can be a result of taking too much vitamin C and iron respectively. Cooperman recommends that you should only consider using creatine if you are completely healthy and have no history or existing kidney problem. This is because creatine is excreted by kidneys in creatinine form so if your kids have a problem consuming creatine will only overwork them.
Another common question many body building enthusiast ask is whether creatine can transform them?
All experts agree that it is impossible to affirm that creatine can transform you. This is because the effect of creatine varies from one individual to another depending on genetics. There are people who don’t respond to creatine while on the other hand there are those who respond positively but you can be sure that it won’t harm you.
Try it out for at least a week and see if there it increases your training volume. If it works then you are good to go. If it has no effect then sadly, you are a ‘nonresponder’
Creatine is present in meat particularly beef and herring therefore if you are a regular consumer, you might not see a lot of change by consuming creatine. However, if you are a vegetarian, there is larger chance that the response will be greater. To increase the effectiveness of creatine it is absolutely necessary to consume a healthy diet free from junk. Your diet should mostly be healthy carbohydrates and lean proteins. The bottom-line is that creatine will not make you bigger if it is not accompanied by a regular exercise regimen and a great diet.
What kind creatine should you take to have effective results?
Reliable studies have established that liquid creatine and creatine ethyl ester are highly unstable and can potentially break down in the blood system rendering them in effective. The ideal option is creatine powder just mix it with a fruit juice and you are good to go!
According to Assistant Professor Chad Kersick of Oklahoma University, it is advisable to take 100% pure creatine powder. Although some companies include electrolytes and other ingredients in the creatine powder for effectiveness, there is no factual evidence to prove that these additional ingredients improve performance.
So why fruit juice and not water? Fruit juice is rich in sugar which raises insulin levels. High insulin levels increase uptake of creatine into body muscles.
According to Dr Paul Greenhaff, it is advisable to accompany 5 grams of creatine with 70 grams of simple sugars. To gain maximally from the intake of creatine it is advisable to buy your supplement from a reputable brand and ensure you buy a quality product. Creatine will go straight to your bloodstream therefore going cheap is not an option.
This is how you can tell if the creatine powder you have purchased is of poor quality: the powder hardly dissolves in the fruit juice and there is a remnant residue at the bottom of the glass after taking it. If this happens opt for a better and more high-quality brand.