Muscle Building And Weight Gain? 4 Things To Know About Creatine
Everything you need to know about creatine. Is it safe? Are there side effects? Just what is creatine, anyway? Men’s Health gets the answers from a noted expert
Many guys use creatine as a way to help them build muscle. But there are still tons of questions surrounding it. How much should you take? What should you take it with? What are its effects?
To those wondering about these questions and more, here are the five things i’ve put together that you need to know about creatine.
Every day, those looking to stay healthy with diet and exercise are bombarded with endless claims from an overwhelming number of supplement companies.
But, where does the truth lie? What are the actual facts behind the use of these chemicals? Do they really improve workout success, or are they simply placebos? Worse yet, are there negative side effects to these supplements that users need to be worried about?
1. Are there any side effects to creatine?
The only significant side effect that has been consistently reported in scientific and medical literature has been weight gain. However, there have been a number of reported side effects such as stomach problems, muscle cramping, dehydration, and increased risk of muscle strains/pulls. There has also been concern that short and/or long-term creatine supplementation may increase renal (kidney) stress.
2. Creatine can be used as a short-term performance enhancer.
Taking creatine right before the big game or race may very well give you the benefits you are looking for. But for those who are looking to focus more on slow-twitch muscle fibers (think triathletes) rather than fast-twitch muscle fibers (sprinters and football players, for example), creatine is probably not the way to go. “If you’re an endurance athlete … you don’t need to be on creatine,”
It should also be noted that creatine does not have the same effect on everyone. Factors such as age, activity level, and diet can all have an impact on how well creatine works within the system. For example, a person used to a lean-protein heavy diet will have a much-reduced effect from creatine than a person following a Vegan diet, since the human body can only process a certain amount of creatine at one time, with the rest being excreted out of the body through urine.
For those not seeing results in a fairly short time period, it may not be worthwhile to continue use of the supplement, as it will continue to add “water weight” even if it is not being utilized in re-energizing muscular tissues.
3. Creatine is not a steroid.
Despite the appearance of creatine in forms from capsules to powders, it is actually a naturally occurring amino acid produced by our own kidneys and livers, as well as in the bodies of fish and cattle. Creatine is part of the system that produces the energy necessary for muscle contraction. Adding creatine as a supplement provides additional energy supplies to muscles that are working out or recovering from intense exercise. Creatine then metabolizes into creatinine and is then passed out of the body via the kidneys and urinary tract.
Though there are many types of creatine available, from powder to liquid, “natural” and vegan, the one most commonly used is creatine monohydrate. Though many “creatine” products are sold with additional items added that supposedly enhance creatine’s efficacy, the safest products are those made from “100 percent creatine monohydrate.” The great majority of the scientific research on creatine has been performed without additional supplements being added.
4. Creatine is not without side effects.
There can be some very serious risks associated with the use of creatine, especially for those with high blood pressure or existing kidney issues. (Though long-term use appears to be safe in those with healthy kidneys.)
Though you can find creatine mixed with any number of things these days, do not mix with caffeine. The natural diuretic effect of caffeine can offset the water retention benefits of creatine supplementation, leaving a person in the exact same state as if they had not taken the supplement at all.
However, caffeine and creatine both act as short-term performance enhancers, so other sources suggest using the two of them in concert only on special occasions, such as the day of a competitive athletic event.
Another important fact to know about creatine is that it is not a good choice for those attempting to lose weight. A person attempting to shed a few pounds will be well-advised to not use creatine as part of their nutritional and workout routine.