Myths about creatine busted and why you should consider taking a supplement.
Chris Duff is a recent graduate of the Raw Academy Personal Training Course and one of our newest and brightest recruits. In his first blog post, Chris separates what’s “fact” from what’s “fake news” in relation to one of the worlds most controversial supplements – creatine
Myths about creatine busted and why you should consider taking it as a supplement.
Creatine is an organic acid produced in our body and found in certain foods. It provides energy to the muscle cells and is one of the fastest, alternative forms of energy in our bodies. It helps with the formation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) a source of explosive power.
Creatine Causes Bloating: Fictional Fact
Creatine has garnered a reputation of causing your body to bloat and retain water. In reality, this is not entirely true, or at least not in the way that you’ve been led to believe. Creatine increases muscular energy, allowing you to lift more weight, or lift the same weight for one or two additional reps before failure. Benefit? Pushing more weight causes progressive overload, which builds more FFM (Fat-Free Muscle) and increases the load our central nervous system can handle. Research has shown a 5 to 15 percent increase in muscle performance in training to failure tests.
When you use the words water retention and creatine in the same sentence, people immediately envisage all the resulting negative connotations. When those two words are used in conjunction, our minds immediately think “bloating”, “soft”, “flat”, “flabby”, the list can go on all day. In reality, the intramuscular water retention that creatine promotes is far more comparable to the way you look and feel following a carbohydrate reload i.e. you’re left with that pumped up fuller look that everyone around you notices.
Creatine Improves Brain Function: Fact
It has also been proven to increase brain function. Creatine is thought to enhance the brain’s ability to survive the metabolic and physical trauma associated with neurodegenerative, vascular and muscular disorders.
Increased Muscle Size: Fact
Creatine causes muscles to inflate moving water from your body into your muscular tissue. Improving a more muscular physique and increases protein synthesis.
Creatine Will Harm Your Kidneys: Fiction
To put it in it’s most basic terms, no! Creatine is one of the most researched supplements around with over 200 clinical tests conducted over the last decade. None of which were able to prove it negatively affects the kidneys.
Female Athletes Shouldn’t Take Creatine: Fiction
This one is complete BS. Female athletes can benefit just as much from creatine as men can. As it naturally occurs in the bodies of both sexes.
Enhances Recovery: Fact
This one is correct. Creatine helps to promote complete recovery from intense exercise. Another reason strength and endurance athletes benefit from adding it to their diet.
You Must Take Creatine In Cycles: Fiction
This one is fake news. Probably a cohesive marketing gimmick by supplement brands, targeting ignorant consumers who are new to strength training. A loading phase will mean you to consume their product faster than you would have had you stuck to 3-5g a day. You buy their product more frequently – they make more money. There is no substantial evidence to say that cycling creatine will benefit you. Nowadays people take 3 to 5g of creatine every day and seeing as it’s one of the cheapest supplements that you can pretty much use all year round. There is no need for a “loading period.”
Improved Bone health: Fact
Researchers in Switzerland found that creatine can be a successful alternative therapy for bone fracture healing or the treatment of osteoporosis
Helps prevent Muscle Atrophy: Fact
As we age our muscle building hormones, testosterone and growth hormone, naturally decline. It’s why once some people break past a certain age they can start to see a loss in muscle mass. Creatine is mostly beneficial to fast twitch muscle fibres, and these are the first to see a decrease in function as we age.
Improves Sprint Performance: Fact
As mentioned creatine has the best effect on fast twitch muscle fibres, the ones responsible for explosive and quick bursts of energy.
Improves Muscle And Performance For Vegetarians: Fact
Generally speaking Vegans and Vegetarians have lower levels of creatine as they aren’t taking any in from meat sources. While vegetarians have low levels of creatine to start with they will initially see a more significant result from their supplementation.
Who Can Benefit from a Creatine Supplement?
- Bodybuilders and performance athletes
- Middle-aged people and upwards.
- Anybody with degenerative diseases affecting the brain and muscle fibres.
- Vegans and Vegetarians
What Type of Creatine to Take
- Creatine Monohydrate is the most studied forms of creatine and the most popular as it’s 88% pure when taken with water. Also, it’s cheap, 250g (50 servings) can cost as little as €7 from myprotein.com
- Kre-Alkalyn is gaining momentum on the scene as it’s said to have a faster absorption rate.
- Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE) is an extremely soluble form of creatine and is believed to be the future of the supplement as it can have up to a ten times faster rate of absorption than most of the creatine supplements.
How should I Take Creatine
Up till now it’s been widely believed you should take creatine in cycles, but recent research shows that there is no real advantage to cycling creatine. Through supplementing 3 to 5g each day should be enough to see results in a relatively short time. You can at the start take 7g or more to saturate the muscles but like most fitness goals patience is paramount and success or results take time.
To sum everything up. Creatine is a naturally occurring acid that helps our body more efficiently and effectively. Supplementing it or adding more to your diet is not going to be harmful to you or your organs. It is not necessary to take if you want to see progress in the gym but for one of the cheapest and most effective supplements out there, I don’t see any reason not to introduce it into your training.