Health Benefits and Risks of Creatine

It’s called the supercharger of fitness. Should you jump on the creatine bandwagon?

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Creatine monohydrate, or creatine for short, is a mineral found naturally in high protein foods such as herring, salmon, pork, beef and tuna. It plays a vital role in producing the energy required for quick and explosive muscle contractions.  It has long been a staple of Olympic athletes and powerlifters, and it is now gaining massive popularity with amateur athletes and gym goers, who are starting to ask themselves “Should I use creatine?”. Lets take a closer look at the Health Benefits and Risks of Creatine.

Health Benefits and Risks of Creatine

Creatine consumption helps facilitate your muscles ability to rapidly exert energy. It does so by increasing your bodies store of creatine phosphate, which allows you to extend the length of your ATP/ADP energy stores to 30 seconds. This will allow you to get out more reps.
Creatine also elevates the hydration of muscle cells, resulting in a bigger pump and increased muscle size and mass.

Creatine Myths

Many myths exist about creatine use. If you spend enough time at the gym you have probably heard them all.  It is time to bust the creatine myths once and for all!

 

Hairloss

There is absolutely no substantial scientific evidence that links use of creatine with any form of hairloss, including male pattern baldness. Dr William Rassman, an expert in the field of hairloss, agrees that creatine does not cause hairloss, and that 95 percent of all hair loss in men is caused by androgenic alopecia (Commonly known as Male Pattern baldness). The myths originates from a 2009 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport, that concluded that creatine consumption increased the amount of testosterone that is converted to DHT (DHT is a type of powerful testosterone, that is responsible for hairloss in men). The study was conducted on only 20 men, all of college age, over a very short time span – Hardly a reputable source to draw any conclusions.

 

Kidney / Liver damage

Again, this is an absolute falsification. Creatine is a naturally occurring mineral, which if taken within the recommended guidelines will not cause any damage to your liver, kidneys or any other vital organs. Existing studies have only shown ill effects to the kidney / liver on people who already had chronic kidney issues. It is important to drink plenty of water whilst using creatine.

 

Muscle Cramping

Myth busted. Studies have shown that creatine will actually reduce the amount, and severity of cramps. Creatine expands a muscle cell’s ability to hold water, which will in turn make your muscle less susceptible to cramping. It is always advisable to increase your intake of water whilst using creatine.

 

Is Creatine Steroids?

Creatine has wrongfully gained a reputation as an anabolic steroid. This could not be further from the truth. Steroids work by altering hormone levels in the body, particularly the male hormone testosterone and its counterpart DHT. Creatine simply assists in the deliverance of energy and expansion of muscle cells with the assistance of water.

How do I use Creatine?

Another common myth is that creatine needs to be ‘loaded’ and ‘cycled’. When ‘loading’ creatine it is recommended to take 20 grams each day, for the first 5 days that you use creatine. This is just a myth, there is no proven benefit of doing this. Some people will advise you to ‘cycle’ creatine – take it for one month, followed by a month break, one month on, one month off, etc. Again, there is no evidence that this has any benefit.

Buying Creatine

Again, Optimum Nutrition make the best bang for buck high quality creatine on the market today. It is highly refined and of excellent standard. Best price online is from the Amazon Store, where you can usually pick up a 600 gram tub for under $17.

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  • Andrew

    There has been no research shown that cycling creatine has any use. 5g a day is all one needs.

  • Shizuppy

    I have MPB and avoid creatine due to that study. The risk is just too high. I’m surprised creatine companies have not sponsored more tests.