Most people want to be fit and get in shape. But we all know it’s not always easy. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways you can increase your chances of getting your dream body quicker. One of those ways is Creatine.
But there are many doubts about it. The biggest question most people ask is if Creatine is healthy. Are there dire consequences? What are the advantages? If you desire to know more about Creatine and its health benefits, plus other measures, read on as we delve into the science behind Creatine.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that our bodies produce and is found in small amounts in certain foods such as red meat and fish. It is essential for providing energy to our muscles, which allows us to lift heavier weights, perform more reps, and improve our overall athletic performance.
When we engage in high-intensity exercise, such as weightlifting or sprinting, our muscles require a lot of energy in a short period. This energy is produced by a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Creatine acts as a reservoir for ATP, allowing our muscles to produce energy more quickly and efficiently.
Supplementing With Creatine
Supplementing with creatine has been shown to increase muscle stores by up to 40%. This increase in muscle creatine can lead to several benefits, including increased muscle strength, muscle mass, athletic performance, and more.
Creatine is generally considered safe for healthy adults when taken at recommended doses. However, it’s always advisable to speak with your doctor before starting any supplement regimen.
It is also important to note that, as with any supplement, creatine is not a magic bullet and will not compensate for a poor diet or lack of exercise. It should be used with a healthy diet and regular exercise program.
How Does Creatine Work?
When we supplement with creatine, it increases the amount stored in our muscles. This increase in muscle creatine can lead to many benefits, including increased muscle strength and power, muscle mass, and enhanced athletic performance.
Creatine works by increasing the phosphocreatine stores in our muscles. This is a molecule that acts as a storage form of energy for our muscles. When we engage in high-intensity exercise, such as weightlifting or sprinting — our muscles use phosphocreatine to produce ATP quickly.
The more phosphocreatine we have stored in our muscles, the more quickly and efficiently we can produce ATP. And the more energy our muscles have available to them.
Creatine also increases the water content in muscle cells, leading to a greater volume of muscle tissue. This is known as cell volumization. The increased water content in muscle cells leads to a greater volume of muscle tissue, which can promote muscle growth and improve muscle strength and power.
The Benefits of Creatine
Creatine has undergone extensive research into its potential benefits in sports and physical performance. And from the research, it was deduced that when taken in the recommended doses, it is considered safe for healthy adults and has been shown to provide several benefits.
Hence, here are some of its most well-known advantages:
Increased Muscle Strength and Power
Creatine supplementation has been shown to significantly increase muscle strength and power. Particularly in exercises that involve short bursts of high-intensity activity, such as weightlifting and sprinting.
This is because creatine helps to increase the amount of phosphocreatine stored in our muscles. Thereby allowing them to produce energy more quickly and efficiently.
Increased Muscle Mass
Creatine also promotes muscle growth by increasing the water content in muscle cells, leading to a greater volume of muscle tissue. This process increases muscle size and strength.
Ever wondered how some of your athletes got so much muscle? Might just be through the help of Creatine and following procedures closely.
Improved Athletic Performance
Creatine has been shown to improve athletic performance in various sports, including weightlifting, sprinting, and bodybuilding. It’s also been shown to help with high-intensity, short-duration activities like jumping and sprinting. Hence, the reason it is highly recommended for athletes.
Improved Cognitive Function
It also improves cognitive function, particularly in older adults. Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can improve memory, reasoning, and intelligence.
Reduced Muscle Damage
Creatine has been shown to reduce muscle damage and inflammation, resulting in faster muscle recovery and improved endurance performance.
Hence, if you have been experiencing anything related to muscle damage, you should see your doctor. This might just be a good recommendation. But make sure not to self-medicate.
The Risks of Creatine
Although it is considered safe for healthy adults when taken at recommended doses, like any supplement, there are potential risks associated with consuming this supplement.
Therefore, below are some of the most well-established risks:
Creatine is filtered by the kidneys. Hence, long-term use of high doses may strain the kidneys. However, some studies have found that supplementation does not cause significant damage to the kidneys.
Individuals with pre-existing kidney problems should speak to their doctor before taking creatine. This is why it is essential to not self-medicate but seek a doctor’s prescription.
Digestive Side Effects
Some people may experience stomach cramps, nausea, or diarrhea when taking creatine. These side effects are generally mild and can be reduced by starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing the dose over time. All you need to do is to follow your doctor’s prescription.
Creatine can cause an increase in water weight, which may cause a temporary increase in weight. This is because it pulls water into the muscle cells, causing an increase in muscle volume. However, this water weight gain is not body fat and will be lost once you stop using the supplement.
It is important to note that this weight gain is only temporary and is not caused by an increase in body fat. Additionally, it is common for people to confuse this weight gain with an increase in muscle mass. And this can lead to disappointment, particularly if they want to lose weight.
If you feel this way, read the first paragraph of ‘Weight gain’ again.
Muscle cramping is a common side effect of creatine supplementation and can be caused by dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. This is because the muscles need fluids and electrolytes to function properly, and when they become dehydrated, they can cramp up.
Analytically, creatine pulls water into the muscle cells, which can lead to a slight increase in muscle volume, and if not compensated with proper hydration, it may lead to muscle cramps.
Therefore, to prevent muscle cramping, drinking plenty of water and consuming a diet rich in electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium is important. This can help to keep the muscles hydrated and prevent cramping.
If you experience muscle cramping while taking creatine, it is not a sign to stop taking it, but rather to adjust your hydration and electrolyte intake. For people who still experience muscle cramping despite proper hydration and electrolyte intake, it may be best to speak with a healthcare professional.
Interaction With Medication
Certain medications, such as blood thinners, diuretics, and insulin, may interact with creatine. Blood thinners, such as warfarin, are used to prevent blood clots.
As such, taking creatine with these medications may increase the risk of bleeding.
Creatine may interfere with the effectiveness of diuretics, such as furosemide, which are used to remove excess fluid from the body. Insulin controls blood sugar levels, and creatine may lower blood sugar levels, potentially leading to hypoglycemia.
This is another reason why you should consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you are currently taking any medications. They will be able to advise you on whether or not creatine is safe for you to take. And whether any adjustments to your medication or dosage need to be made.
In addition, you must always inform your healthcare professional about any supplement or herbal product you are taking, as it can interact with your prescribed medications.
So, Is Creatine Safe?
Many studies have been conducted on the safety of creatine supplementation. Most of these studies have found that creatine is safe for healthy adults when taken at recommended doses.
The most common side effects are minor and include stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. But these side effects can be reduced by starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing the dose over time.
It is also considered safe for athletes, including children and adolescents, when taken at recommended doses. However, creatine should not be given to children under 18 without consulting a healthcare professional first.
Lastly, long-term use of creatine at high doses may strain the kidneys, but studies have found that supplementation does not cause significant damage to the kidneys. However, individuals with pre-existing kidney problems should speak to their doctor before taking creatine.
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