Creatine supplements are no doubt one of the most discussed and argued about topics in the world of fitness. Being the most popular supplement in the world, almost everyone you ask is going to have a strong opinion about whether this supplement is good or bad. You will find that some people praise creatine for the way their careers have gone while others have nothing good to say about it at all. Opinions differ widely but everyone seems to have something to say.
So who are you going to believe – the ones who say creatine is the best supplement ever or those who did not get on with it at all? The first thing is to ask who is actually qualified to answer the question. Have any of these people actually taken it or are they just repeating whatever they heard on the grapevine or read on the internet? How much do you know about it and where did you get your information? That is going to be the same for many people, so it is important to find out the real truth so you can dispel the myths and get right to the facts.
If you are ready to forget all the hearsay and just learn a few creatine facts, we are going to cover the real deal about this supplement. Read on to discover what creatine is, what it does, and why there are so many differing opinions and myths about it going around.
First of All, What is Creatine Anyway?
This natural compound is derived from 3 amino acids that help with cellular energy regulation. Creatine is active in muscle cell function. It gives a phosphate to the adenosine diphosphate (ADP) molecule to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and that is what your muscles use as a direct fuel source. Basically all fats and carbs are used to synthesize ATP. If you want more information about this process you will find it at www.rice.edu
Cellular respiration usually produces ATP, and this requires either fats or carbs, along with oxygen. When you are exercising hard though, oxygen levels deplete in your muscle tissues, a fact you will probably already be familiar with. When this happens, the rate of ADP to ADT through normal cellular respiration is reduced, resulting in less muscle strength. If you have been taking creatine though, ATP levels can stay high even when the rate of oxygen is reduced, because creatine is changing ADPs into ADTs for your body to use. This results in more strength because your body has access to APTs for a longer time. That is the basic science of what creatine is and how it works.
Can Creatine Cause Water Weight?
“Creatine only causes water weight,” you might hear some people say, but is this actually true? The truth about creatine and water weight is that the creatine molecule has a high affinity for water, so when creatine molecules enter your muscle cells, some water goes into the cells with them. This means somebody lifting weights is going to gain a few pounds while starting on creatine supplements, but that is not muscle weight. Instead it is simply water weight.
As already explained, creatine functions as an energy molecule (+1), so what does that water uptake actually mean for the body? Of course it means your muscle cells are volumized and well-hydrated. At a cellular level, the added water has an interesting effect on protein expression. Your body is triggered by the added water to produce more muscle fibers in those cells. So as well as the creatine causing some added water weight, you can expect a strength increase and also an increase in protein synthesis, so you are effectively getting two benefits instead of just the one.
So is Creatine a Steroid?
Steroids often get a bad rap and a lot of athletes are concerned about taking them, so it is very important to find out whether creatine falls into this category. Unlike steroids or pro-hormones, creatine does not mimic testosterone, although consuming creatine and exercising can stimulate greater testosterone production than simply exercising without the creatine. The reason for this is creatine increases your strength and stamina, allowing you to exercise harder, and this results in more muscle repair and that is what triggers the testosterone response, so to recap no, creatine is not a steroid.
Does Creatine Cause Acne?
Another popular question about this supplement is whether creatine can cause breakouts. Very rarely guys who take creatine can get acne, but it is not that simple, because creatine does not directly cause acne. The extra work you can do when taking creatine means the body can produce more testosterone, and that might cause spots on susceptible people. It just boils down to muscle strain and the testosterone response though, so there is just as much chance of this happening on someone who has just starting to work out and never taken creatine.
Does Creatine Definitely Work Then?
Yes it absolutely works, although the effects more be less or noticeable depending on the person, because creatine is naturally made in the body. This means some guys will start out with naturally lower or higher levels, but regardless of that, creatine supplementation almost always results in a noticeable increase in strength.
Do Your Muscles Vanish When You Stop Taking It?
This will not happen. When you stop taking creatine some of that excess water is going to leave your body, leaving your muscle content the same. Some people might say they lose muscle but that is just because they have stopped lifting all the time. If I stop taking creatine now but still keep working out, I will not lose any muscle at all.
Is It Possible to Take Too Much?
It is not possible to take too much accidentally but going overboard with it is of course a bad idea. Taking more than 20 grams per day means you are overdoing it and risking complications. Kidney failure is something associated with steroids but, since creatine is not a steroid, is it not a common risk at all if taking too much creatine. However, taking huge excesses of creatine can cause athletes to over-train and that is never a good idea. Refer to the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine for an interesting case study about this.
In Conclusion, It Is Not All Hype
Now you know the truth about taking creatine, you might be considering this safe and solid supplement for yourself. If you are weight training and wish to increase your size and strength, taking creatine is an effective and safe way of doing it, as long as you take it properly and in the right amounts. In addition to helping with weight training, creatine can also increase cognitive ability and brain function, which is yet another benefit of this popular supplement. IF you are not currently taking creatine, you should definitely get on it now. The rewards are simply too good.