Creatine! The word rings a bell for most of us, and some of us already know what it is. But guys, I’m sure you must have also heard the warning bells associated with Creatine? Concerns like kidney stones? Bloating? Water retention? Hyperuricemia? In this article, I shall be delving deeper into all these things and will help break down all the myths associated with Creatine.
What is creatine?
Creatine is basically a nitrogenous organic acid which is found naturally in the body. It’s synthesized largely in the liver and the kidneys. Each Creatine molecule is a combination of the amino acids Arginine, Methionine, and Glycine.
What does Creatine do?
Creatine is found in all vertebrates. Our muscles use an energy source that is called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), which is also the primary source of all cellular energy for the body. The function of Creatine is to replenish the phosphate molecules which are broken to release energy during muscle contraction. So its abundance surely helps you lift more with more muscle power, and also gain lean mass.
Is taking Creatine recommended?
A regular supplementation of Creatine will definitely help you have explosive workouts with an increase in muscular strength and endurance.
But guys, let’s me clarify one thing before we proceed. When we look at Creatine as a supplement, bear in mind it is a supplement and NOT a substitute for other natural protein sources. Often we see certain gym zealots take an unscientific approach to supplements in general. To be motivated about Creatine supplementation is one thing, but to overdo it is nothing but a waste of your money and health.
When do I take creatine? Do I have to induce a loading phase?
Even though it is recommended by some brands or companies to load Creatine, it is not required to have that loading phase. The body takes from a pool of Creatine which is stored in the muscles over a period of time.
Some specific set of individuals, including power lifters, or advanced bodybuilders, may load it hoping for quicker results. But even if they take 5g of Creatine per day over a few weeks, the effect is going to be the same.
Now moving on to bust some Creatine related myths!
- Does Creatine cause water retention/Kidney stones/cramps?
Creatine supplementation has shown no evidence of increase in water retention in the body. In fact, the only increase was of that of fat free mass and lean body mass gains.
Coming to kidney stones, once again, let us be clear about one thing here. Creatine does NOT cause kidney stones if taken under moderation or up to a level that the total workout needs. On an average, we take upto 1g of creatine per day from naturally occurring protein sources like chicken, beef, or fish.
However, if a person is suffering from a pre-existing medical condition related to kidneys or the liver, then Creatine supplementation is not recommended. But know that no such medical condition will be caused because of Creatine supplementation itself.
If your daily water intake goes down, you might experience some cramps in your muscles or in other parts of your body. However, rest assured that it is not because of Creatine either.
- Do I need to have excess water when supplementing Creatine?
If you are working out regularly, an optimal water intake is crucial to maintain hydration levels and also keep metabolism at its peak. Water is the prime transporter of all nutrients to different parts of the body. So not just because of Creatine, but for the sake of overall health, you need to amp up the water intake and keep yourself hydrated at all times!
- Is creatine a steroid? Will it affect the body’s anabolic or catabolic hormone levels?
Creatine is NOT a steroid. And no, it has no effects on the body’s hormones like growth hormones, testosterone, or even cortisol levels.
- What type of Creatine should I take?
There are different types of Creatine in the market, but Creatine Monohydrate is the cheapest and very effective for long term use. Other types are Creatine Ethyl Ester, or Micronized Creatine, or Creatine HCL etc., which are just Creatine derivatives and there’s no significant advantage if you take them.
All things said, I hope you guys enjoyed this article and will certainly not fear supplementing Creatine in your diets!
Lift hard and stay strong!
Author Credits – Vedang Deshmukh.