Creatine: Its Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, Consumption And More

The latest bodybuilding trend creates buzz now and then. You can get tired of coming across the new terms and products and that still won’t be enough.

Increasing the workout and being the big guy is still a dream for many. Everyone hitting the gym has this one goal to achieve.

Since it is important to take care of your health while improving your performance and athleticism, you should know what you are using for your body.

Damaging your body for mere temporary gains can have adverse effects. Talking about supplements, creatine is one such product that has received mixed reviews.

If you are thinking of using it, make sure to know its uses, impacts on the body, and side effects before experimenting. Further in this article, we will discuss the same.

It is a chemical compound that is present in the body naturally and is also taken as a supplement in the form of powder or capsules which often are used to improve muscle mass and performance during exercise.

In the chemical distribution of our body, 95 percent of creatine is found in the skeletal muscles of our body and the majority of sports supplements too, contain creatine.

Besides artificial products, some natural sources are beef patties, black pudding, ox heart, milk, cheese, almonds, fillet, cranberries, and much more.

Also, muscle making and creatine supplements are used for depression, multiple sclerosis, fatigue, and muscle cramps.

An obvious analogy states that consumption of creatine supplements is beneficial for those who have lower levels of it in the body.

Although it could cause adverse effects when a person with abundant creatine, consumes more than the required amount of creatine supplements.

What Does Creatine Do?

Now to discuss how creatine works in our body, the simple explanation would be that creatine gives your muscles energy leading to a change in cell function and hence an increase in muscle growth.

In high-intensity exercises, creatine increases phosphocreatine stores in your muscles which produces more ATPs that in turn give you more energy and power to lift heavy weights effortlessly.

This increases your cell hydration which increases the water content in your muscle cells but one thing to note is that it doesn’t help in increasing lean muscle mass.

Its buffs are based upon water retention so do remember to increase your regular water intake to not suffer from dehydration that it may cause.

As a result, I decided that I will keep myself away from all the causes of dehydration.

Creatine Side Effects

Sadly, everything has a bad side and so does creatine. If not taken wisely, it can show negative effects. Let us look at some factual data and also get away with the myths. 

  • Abdominal Pain

    Some people have reported this on a personal level. There has been no confirmation or any large-scale research done on this topic yet.

    But it is quite obvious that you will experience abdominal pain if you are scooping it more than normal. A regular dosage of 3-4 g is safe enough and causes no such issues.

    However, exceeding the doses is not a smart choice.

  • Diarrhea

    This is similar to the previous “side-effect”. If you are taking 3-4 g per day. It should be fine. 10 g may or may not cause diarrhea.

  • Kidney Issues

    The most bizarre rumor has been created by this one. This potential side effect has spread like wildfire and people are scared and consider boycotting it.

    The fact is it does not cause any harm to a person with healthy kidneys. However, if a person already has kidney issues like renal disease or is on some specific medication should avoid it.

    It can cause more harm and worsen the problem. So if you have normal kidneys and you take a regular dosage, do not worry about kidney failure.

  • Weight Gain

    This is the only considerate and proven side effect. Some people are aiming at fuller appearing muscles and not weight gain. So creatine supplements boosted levels or even dietary intake can cause weight gain.

    This is due to the water being retained by the chemical compound. Do not worry about fat accumulation or calorie monitoring as it doesn’t increase fat.

    It just causes some bloating or puffiness in or around muscles which makes you look like the bigger man.

  • Hair Loss

    Mixed reactions have been received regarding this side effect. Since this area is also lacking in scientific evidence and studies, it can at least be safely said that if you have a genetic hair loss issue, it may increase the process.

    As it has the hormone DTH which is linked to hair loss, it may speed up the process for you. But, if you won the genetic lottery of good hair, you don’t have to worry about this one.

  • Unnatural and Long Term Is Not Safe

    This is a myth. As per the evidence and studies so far, it is produced by the body which irradiates the chance of being unnatural.

    Considering the long-term use, just use a lower dosage like 3 g and continue to use it.

  • Lost Gains After Stopping Use

    It is partially true. The increased performance can’t be reversed. You can experience a little weight loss which was due to water retention.

    When creatine leaves the body completely in 1-4 weeks, it shows temporary effects like fatigue, weakness, and reduced creatine content.

Creatine Benefits

  • Performance boost

    Powdered or natural intake of creatine by mouth helps in boosting your performance in athletic activities like jumping, rowing, and running.

    An interesting fact to note is that creatine consumption is allowed by the International Olympic Committee and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

  • Muscle strength

    By mouth consumption of creatine tends to also help in improving muscle strength in all aged people ranging from young to old.

    Creatine turned out to be the cheapest and best available supplement for muscle growth since it makes the muscle cells store more water in them

    Henceforth, it increases your muscle strength in a few days or weeks.

  • Helps sarcopenia

    Sarcopenia is a condition where your body loses muscle mass due to aging making them look more flimsy and gooey.

    Luckily, creatine is a substance that helps prevent and even revert muscle mass loss or sarcopenia to a certain extent while providing muscle strength to older adults through an increase of water retention in their muscle cells.

  • Helps in GAMT or AGAT deficiency

    GAMT deficiency or AGAT deficiency causes people to have intellectual disorders, seizures, or muscle weakness which are a high alert for a person’s normal lifestyle.

    It may be due to weak muscle tone and slowed down the growth of motor skills. Creatine supplements help in increasing creatinine levels in a person’s brain which may help young children or older adults with the deficiency.

    Whereas, it might not be a wise choice in the case of children where creatine may not be transported properly.

Is Creatine Bad For You?

Until you take a recommended dosage and have no prior kidney diseases or are using medications, it might not be bad for you.

It can give you all the energy and fuller muscles till you are not obsessed with its benefits and start overdosing. If you have any such queries regarding medications, have a word with your doctor.

How Much Creatine Should I Take?

Creatine is a substance that is abundantly found in meat, seafood, milk, cheese, fillets, sports supplements, and also naturally in our bodies.

Supplement consumption is only recommended for adults with a one-time dosage of 20 gms by mouth daily for up to 7 days which should be covered up by a maintenance dosage of 2.25 to 10 gms daily for up to 16 weeks.

One thing to note is that before starting the consumption of this supplement or powder you have to consult with your doctor to decide which type of creatine and its dosage will suit your body.

As being a safer supplement, creatine still may have its side effects causing adverse results to your health and body. Hence, while taking creatine dosage in a long run consider taking smaller doses close to 3 or 4 grams. 

When To Take Creatine?

When it comes to creatine consumption, the intake methods, times, and quantities vary based on many factors.

But for a generalized analogy, a person under active workouts can take creatine shortly before the workout or shortly after the exercise for good results.

Now, researchers have quite not yet come to a solution on whether an intake shortly before exercise is better than the shortly after intake and vice versa.

However, it is safe to say that creatine consumption near to your workout session gives you desired results than taking on a certainly longer break.

Creatine For Men

Now depending upon consultancy, creatine must be consumed in a certain manner, quantity, and with some precautions.

Remember that in a male body, creatine creates quick burst energy in the muscles giving you explosive strength which improves performance exceeding par.

This study reveals more about the effects of creatine.

As it has some effect on aerobic endurance and may also increase DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) and HGH (Human Growth hormone) during physical activity performed by the user. 

Creatine For Women

When it comes to women, creatine has pretty much the same effect on their body as it does on men so it is recommended for both sides to have plenty of water intake to not suffer from dehydration it may cause.

An added precaution in the case of women is it is strictly prohibited for pregnant and breastfeeding females to consume creatine. 

As the tests are still under conduction to find out whether creatine supplements are harmful to pregnant or breastfeeding women or not. 

Conclusion

For now, no proper studies have been conducted to say how it will exactly work for each group. But, excessive intake or obsession is never safe.

You can continue both natural intake and supplementation until it’s not exceeding the normal limits. If you are suffering from kidney disease, consider avoiding it.