Creatine is a non-essential amino acid (which means that the body makes it, so it’s not essential to get it in food).
Creatine monohydrate is a dietary food supplement used by athletes, both amateurs, and professionals, to improve physical performance.
What is Creatine
The typical creatine user is looking for a product that allows him to get results from the exercise he performing: well-cut muscles (aesthetic aspect) as well as increased strength (performance aspect).
On the other hand, a long-distance runner, a cyclist, a swimmer, or a triathlete who especially wants to improve his endurance will not derive much benefit. In fact, they are more likely to experience discomfort (cramps and others) due to dehydration (see negative effects below).
Creatine is found naturally in meats (about 5g / kg) and it is synthesized in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys at a rate of about 3g per day. The products sold on the market are obtained by synthesis (from sodium sarcosine and cyanamide).
The supplements are sold as powders, tablets, capsules, and liquids. You must first know that these forms are not all equivalent (it does not mean that it sells that it is good!): Creatine is not stable in a liquid medium. Moreover, Consumer Lab (2) has not found any liquid product containing the quantity displayed on the label!
The mechanism of action of creatine is twofold. On the one hand, it increases intracellular water, which has the effect of swelling the muscles. On the other hand, it serves as a precursor to ATP (intracellular energy), which helps to increase strength and reduce muscle fatigue, especially during so-called anaerobic exercises such as weight training and weightlifting. The increase in muscle mass is therefore due both to the direct effect of creatine and to the effect on ATP which allows the athlete to train more vigorously and for longer. Intensified resistance training alone can explain some of the effects seen with the supplement.
The International Olympic Committee, like the majority of sports and athletic associations, authorizes the use of creatine. The safety of the supplement could explain this approval, but since it is a natural metabolite, there are no tests to detect the use of the supplement.
Pay attention to imported products such as those from certain Internet sales companies or those sold behind the counter in certain gyms. The purity of these products can be questioned.
Check whether the products you buy are accepted or in the process of being accepted by the NHPD (Natural Health Products Directorate of Health Canada). This assures you of adequate quality control.
Without wanting to appear chauvinistic, the products produced here in Canada are produced under good manufacturing practices which guarantee quality and purity. It is not true everywhere.
Creatine causes very few adverse effects: three potential types are listed. The first is due to its mechanism of action which consists in increasing intracellular water. When you sweat a lot, the risk of dehydration is increased since water is mobilized inside the cell.
Dehydration can lead to disorders such as cramps, sunstroke, muscle fatigue, etc. It is therefore very important to drink lots of water during training.
The second type of side effect is digestive. Several companies suggest on the packaging to take creatine on an empty stomach, but it can cause gastric irritation and nausea.
I have also found no evidence showing that it is better absorbed on an empty stomach.
The third type of side effect comes from the metabolism of creatine. It is the direct precursor of a molecule that serves as a marker for kidney failure: creatinine. Creatine supplements therefore temporarily increase the production of creatinine in the blood and can lead to false alarming results on the creatinine test.
However, when the supplement is stopped, everything is back to normal. You still have to be careful: creatine is not indicated for people with kidney failure whose less functional kidneys have difficulty eliminating this excess creatinine.
An odd adverse effect has been reported to me anecdotally. It seems that some long-term users, when they stop using creatine completely, experience muscle pain for a few days or even weeks after stopping. I have not found scientific validation for this effect, but when creatine has been used to treat certain muscle disorders, similar pain has been reported in rare cases. (7)
Despite the opinion of several alarmist authors, the rate of endogenous synthesis (what is produced by our body) of creatine is not affected in the long term by taking these supplements. (4)
Loading dose vs maintenance dose
The question of the loading dose often comes up. This notion is certainly paying off for those who sell creatine since it encourages consumption of up to 20g per day during the first week.
On the other hand, a loading dose is definitely not necessary, nor even useful in the medium or long term.
After a few weeks of use, there is no noticeable difference in performance or muscle definition between those who took a regular dose of 3 to 5g per day and those who ingested the same dose preceded by a loading dose. Use when necessary, only on training days, is also as valid (and less expensive) as continuous use.
Is Creatine Bad for Your Kidneys?
It is made from creatine phosphate. The high concentration of phosphate makes it a very fast-acting supplement but is bad for the kidney. That’s because phosphate builds up slowly in the kidneys, and creatine is not a very good catalyst. Too much of it, and it’ll impact your metabolism and activity levels for the rest of the day. Buy Creatine for Your Kidneys. Although it’s the safest and easiest choice, you’re better off buying monohydrate. To help with metabolism, it’s easier to get the full benefit of the creatine into your body. It’s also much cheaper. It’s the cheapest form of creatine you can buy, so make sure you buy it when you have the money.
Many brands are both safe and effective, including Leucine Extreme, TotalCreatine, Barbell creatinine, RKC Pro, and others. Check out our review. Herbs and Supplements to Increase Creatine. Some supplements are known to increase the high intensity of creatine. Be wary of these. Piracetam. Piracetam has many documented benefits. It’s even said to help athletes like Tiger Woods play better and perform at the highest level. However, it’s not proven safe.
Does Creatine Make You Bigger?
There are so many myths and misunderstandings about who can and can’t take creatine. That’s why, for this article, we’ve listed everything you need to know about creatine and creatine supplements. We hope this article has helped you understand the things you need to know about creatine and help you decide whether you need to take it to get stronger and leaner. Now, let’s get down to the good stuff! What are the pros of Creatine and cons of the loading phase? Creatine increases naturally occurring amino acids or organic compounds. It’s produced by your body during normal physical activity and is critical for muscle building and development.
Creatine plays a role in the energy requirements for the process of carbohydrate breakdown and storage in the body. It’s also involved in increasing protein synthesis levels and muscle endurance. You’ve probably heard the common myth that creatine builds bigger muscles. This isn’t true. It won’t make you bigger. It won’t make your muscles grow, and it won’t help you bulk. In fact, consuming large amounts of creatine could actually lead to muscle loss. That’s because the body can build resistance to your body’s own production, and your body stops making as much of it in short term.
Is Creatine Worth the Risk?
In my experience, I’ve observed a few things about the online, or self-experimenter community. One is that there are a lot of things people do that they don’t consider high risk. How many of these questions will you consider the high risk? SUBJECTIVE: To determine if the addition of creatine (20 g/day) to anabolic steroid replacement regimens may improve muscle hypertrophy and/or strength gains in well-trained subjects.
METHODS: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted. The study was initiated on November 3, 1996. Male participants were instructed to supplement their existing anabolic steroid regimen with either creatine (20 g/day), a creatine-free placebo, or no creatine supplementation. As previously described, athletes included in the study were all experienced, competitive amateur bodybuilders or collegiate athletes in the year prior to the study. RESULTS: Participants completed the first day of supplementation with the three sample diet combinations. Performance and strength data were obtained on day 2 using two sets of exercises (both sets in a back squat and leg press.
Is it Worth it to Take Creatine?
If you are looking to build muscle mass, taking creatine is a very reasonable option for you. If you are considering taking creatine, then you are probably wondering what benefits you will get from taking creatine, which could help you achieve the maximum muscle growth possible. The main reason that people take creatine is to increase muscle growth by reducing the chance of muscle breakdown after a workout.
The key to optimal muscle growth with creatine is to take it on a regular basis. You will notice a positive effect on your body after you take creatine, but it will take time to see the benefits. Some people feel that creatine works on muscle glycogen stores, while others believe it increases muscle protein synthesis. Unfortunately, it is difficult to give you the full picture of the benefits of creatine with any certainty. One of the most important benefits of creatine is that it is a fast-acting muscle-building supplement.
Does Creatine Increase Testosterone?
According to the protein Codex Alimentarius, adhering to the same standards of nutritional principles, bodybuilders can take a supplement called Creatine to increase their testosterone levels. Creatine is an organic compound that is broken down to its monohydrate by your body through a process called phosphatidylcholine acetyltransferase, or PCTA. It’s in your bones, muscles, and brain, but it does not have a major effect on the liver. Creatine is also used to increase levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a neurotransmitter that is essential for the signaling of the neural pathways in your body and in your cardiovascular system. It is the ability of testosterone to act upon your body and quickly alter your body’s metabolism.
Creatine can therefore help increase muscle mass by up to 5% compared to exercise alone. It also promotes increased muscle strength but does not improve endurance.
Those looking for a miracle product to develop muscles without exercise (as if it could be…) will obviously be disappointed.
Without exercise, creatine promotes weight gain, not muscle gain!
- Graham AS, Hatton RC.Creatine: A Review of Efficacy and Safety . J Am Pharm Assoc 39 (6): 803-810, 1999.
- ConsumerLab.com.Product Review: Muscular Enhancement Supplements: Creatine, HMB, and Glutamine , United States, 2003. (paid site)
- Becque MD, Lochmann JD, Melrose DR.Effects of oral creatine supplementation on muscular strength and body composition . Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. , Flight. 32, No. 3, pp. 654–658, 2000.
- The American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable on the physiological and health effects of oral creatine supplementation. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc ., Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 706–717, 2000. (full text available free of charge)
- Persky AM, Brazeau GA.Clinical Pharmacology of the Dietary Supplement Creatine Monohydrate . Pharmacol Rev 2001; 53: 161–176. (full text available free of charge)
- Deldicque L, Décombaz J, Foncea HZ, et al.Kinetics of creatine ingested as a food ingredient. Eur J Appl Physiol . 2008 Jan; 102 (2): 133-43.
- Kley RA, Vorgerd M, Tarnopolsky MA.Creatine for treating muscle disorders . Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2007 Jan 24; (1): CD004760.