Creatine has been a by-word in the bodybuilding industry. However, the general public is still in the dark about it. Let’s break down the facts regarding creatine.
What is creatine?
It is made up of amino acids – methionine, arginine, and glycine. It is necessary for the production of adenosine triphosphate, which fuels the body and gives it energy. It is naturally secreted by the pancreas, kidneys, and liver. Two grams of creatine is naturally produced by the body daily. Ninety-five percent of it is mostly stored in the muscles as phosphocreatine.
What does it do to my body?
Creatine is especially useful for people who do physical activities or exercises. Creatine helps the muscles recover from the stress and exertion faster, and gives the extra boost of energy needed for intense exercises like when you work out or lift weights. Since you have more energy, you can do more reps and sets without easily being fatigued.
Therefore, taking creatine, along with fitness exercises or physical activities, helps improve performance, in terms of strength and endurance. It also increases muscle mass.
Does creatine make me fat?
Creatine is low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories, so, no. It does help you build muscle. Building muscles increases your metabolism. In the long term, you decrease belly fat. It may not cause it directly but it does help indirectly.
Gaining muscle may make you heavier but leaner. Remember that muscle is heavier than fat.
Creatine stores water in the muscles (water retention), which is necessary for muscle exertion. And because of this, it may be perceived that you gained weight or added bulk. But this is only during the initial use of creatine supplements. Expect the water weight to be around two to four pounds.
Can everyone just take creatine?
Creatine was given a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) rating by the FDA. If you are an athlete or just someone who wants to have a leaner physique, creatine is a good supplement for you. A word of the wise though. There is not enough research that studied the effects of combining creatine with other supplements so no one can say for sure.
Who cannot take creatine? What are the side effects of creatine?
There are two opposing claims regarding creatine. Some reports claim that if your kidney functions are already impaired, taking creatine supplements may aggravate it and cause further deterioration and damage. Aside from that, there have been reports of cardiovascular issues, muscle cramping and pulling, dehydration, diarrhea, among others. On the other hand, some groups claim that these reports are not scientifically proven.
Though it has been recommended for young adults, if you are below 18 years old, using creatine is not encouraged as there are no scientific studies regarding the effects of creatine in growing children. As with anything, better to be safe than sorry and to err on the side of caution