Since it was discover by scientist in the 1970s, creatine supplements have gained increasing popularity among the general population while increasing controversy.
Some consider the supplement potentially harmful, but others have shown that if used correctly it can be one of the safer and most effective supplements on the market. Here are some of the pros and cons to help you decide if creatine is right for you.
PRO: Increased Muscle Mass
Creatine supplements allow for higher intensity workouts, which contributes to increased muscle mass and volume. Creatine supplements also serve as a stimulus for protein synthesis, enhancing strength and muscle mass (Candow et al. page 693).
PRO: Increased Sport Performance
Creatine can provide a performance edge to athletes because it can improve strength and helps with shorts burst of energy. However, it has not been found to improve endurance in athletes.
PRO: Reduced Recovery Time
Creatine supplements have been shown to reduce muscle cell damage and inflammation, as well as promote recovery following exhaustive exercise (Mirzaei et al. 2013, page 37).
CON: No Shortcuts
Creatine is only effective if you actually workout. Real improvements in muscle mass and strength are only made by regular performance of strength training routines. There are no shortcuts to strengthening your muscles, you have to put in the work.
It is recommended to maintain a high fluid intake of about 200-250 ml of water per 2.5 grams of creatine. This is because the cells in your body cannot absorb water as well when taking the supplement, which may result in dehydration over time (Salvador et al. 2015, page 40).
Supplements aren’t held to the same standards by the FDA as medications, which means you don’t always know exactly what is in your supplement or in what amounts. Concerns also exist about kidney function with prolonged or excessive use. It is recommend that you consult your medical provider before taking the supplement.
Candow, D. G., Vogt, E., Johannsmeyer, S., Forbes, S. C., & Farthing, J. P. (2015). Strategic creatine supplementation and resistance training in healthy older adults. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 40(7), 689-694. doi:10.1139/apnm-2014-0498
Creatine Supplement Review. (n.d.). Retrieved October 07, 2016, from http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/Features/Pages/Creatine.aspx
Jenkins, M. A. (n.d.). Creatine Supplementation in Athletes: Review. Retrieved October 08, 2016, from http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/creatine.html
Mirzaei, B., Rahmani-Nia, F., Salehi, Z., & Rahimi, R. (2013). Effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation o oxidative DNA damage and lipid peroxidation induced by acute incremental exercise to exhaustion in wresters. Kinesiology, 45(1), 30-40.
Salvador, L. M., Ariza, M. P., Muñoz, A. P., & Guerrero, A. E. (2015). Study on risk creatine and dehydration in athletes training in a gym. Nutricion Hospitalaria, 32(S2), 40. doi:10.3305/nh.2015.32.sup2.10321
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