Creatine has become one of the most popular supplements on the market. But there are a lot of people unsure about the safety and effectiveness of creatine. I hope to clear up some of the confusion in this article you read today.
Before we dive to far into this article lets take a look at the number one reason you should even consider taking creatine before we get into the heavy lifting of this article. See what i did there? Heavy lifting? Yeah, i make myself laugh when i write these. Keeping a good sense of humor is key in life.
THE SCIENCE OF CREATINE
Some of the best research comes out of Canada.
Like bacon is delicious and maple syrup goes great on almost anything. But aside from all that. There was this one awesome little study where over the course of 8 weeks a few Canucks found that the insulin growth factor by 20%. This is known to result in an anabolic effect.
Finally you too can have all the gains
If that isn’t enough to pull you further into this article. Perhaps a study done involving 8,762 men that resulted in showing an association between muscularity and mortality. http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a439.abstract
SO HOW DOES CREATINE WORK REALLY?
*putting nerd glasses on*
As we learned in a previous article on Magnesium, muscles expand and contract. For muscles to contract it is necessary for Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to break away from a Phosphate group which results in a lone Adenosine Diphosphate ADP. Tri = 3 Di =. The issue here is that our system cannot approprate ADP for energy, bummer. So this is where our bodies get smart and go its stores of creatine phosphate (PCr) and form more ATP. Problem solved.
So what does all that mean in laymens terms? Having creatine gives you more energy and prolongs fatigue. Cool right?
DO I NEED TO SUPPLEMENT CREATINE
Creatine is not some chemically modified substance created in a lab by the hands of some mad scientist. You find creatine in many sources of animal protein (sorry there is no vegetarian source) such as meat and fish. There is a work around though which involves consuming amino acid arginine, glycine and methionine which are then used in the bodies production of creatine. You can accomplish this by eating peanuts, walnuts, coconuts, soybeans, chickpeas, and oats for arginine. For glycine you can look to spirulina, raw watercress, spinach and raw seaweed. Then for Methionine you can eat Brazil nuts, oats and sunflower seeds. Sounds like a lot huh? Getting creatine from animal product is no easy task either. To reach optimal amounts of creatine intake you would have to consume 500g of raw meat or fish every day. This would be some task. Which is why supplementing is recommended.
WILL I GET FAT OFF CREATINE IF I DON’T WORK OUT
Contains no calories and no impact on your metabolism. Creatine prolongs energy production through the breakdown of ATP to APP back to ATP. So if you don’t create the break you won’t be prolonging anything and the creatine will just flush out of your system. Your body won’t be storing it as fat or converting it to glucose.
CAN CREATINE HURT MY KIDNEYS
There are is no research showing that creatine intake has adverse effects on the kidneys function. So to give the must tone down truth of creatine’s effect on the kidneys, the answer is no they do not hurt the kidneys. That isn’t to say that if your kidney’s are already impaired or damanged that creatine is for you. You should always check in with your physician first. Studies involving the effects of creatine on the kidneys have been extensive. Including this gem where a guy with only one kidney took high doses of creatine and his kidneys were A-okay http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20060630
IS CREATINE ONLY FOR BODY BUILDERS
Sure, you can get the gains, all the gains, when you supplement with creatine. This will of course result in an increase muscle volume. But that isn’t the only reason to supplement with creatine. Think of what we discussed earlier in ATP and how fatigue onsets. You can delay the onset of fatigue with the use of creatine. Think about the advantage this will give you in the pool, on the track or in any other sport where it is essential to push a little harder.
ARE YOU ONLY GAINING WATER WEIGHT
It is true that creatine will cause you to retain water but this is good because it will pull more water into your muscles which will make your muscles bigger and fuller. Unless you are entered into a fitness competition, in which case you should just cycle off a few days prior, I honestly don’t think this should even be a concern. The most you will likely add in water weight is around 5lbs. Creatine will boost your energy, not turn you into a balloon animal.
IS CREATINE A NATURAL SUPPLEMENT
The difference between supplementing creatine and consuming, as i showed above, is that meat, fish and egg sources is creatine Phosphate and supplements are often creatine monohdrate. The main difference is how much creatine is actually absorbed in which case phosphate is the better quality. Though as I mentioned earlier you would have to eat an enormous amount of food to accomplish dietary needs so monohydrate is a good solution.
IS CREATINE A STEROID
Absolutely not. Which is why Creatine is legal. Creatine does not in any way influence the hormones which is why it is an effective way to stimulate anabolic growth without messing with testosterone or estrogen levels.
WHAT ELSE IS CREATINE GOOD FOR
The brain loves, loves, LOVES CREATINE. In short as you age nerve cells die off, particularly in the brain, through over abundant stimulation of glutamate. Creatine provides a wonderful neuroprotective quality. We showed how through ATP and creatine we can reduce the onset of fatigue, the same is relevent to the brain and the ability to extend cell life through cellular energy.
IS CREATINE GOOD FOR ANTI-AGING
We all age and that is something that science has not been able to stop as of yet. Though through the reduction of muscle and strength loss we can attenuate this decline and protect our or at least extend our future to hold more vibrancy.
WILL CREATINE HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT
Yes and no. Yes you will lose fat as a result of the creatine influencing lean muscle mass that is built through increased energy production of the ATP process. Can you sit on your duff and chew creatine to result in becoming a fitness model? no.
About the Author
Tom Topham holds a 1st class honours degree in Sports Science (Human Performance) from Brunel University, England. He also comes from a triathlon background, competing as an age-grouper and holds a level 2 triathlon coaching qualification.