Is Creatine Good for You

For many body builders, exercise fanatics, and just people who generally want to look healthy and strong, supplementation has been the game changer. There are many supplements in the market that aims to aid people in their weight loss or weight gain goals. There are those, especially men, who use supplementation and exercise as a way to gain muscle mass and get bigger in general. While there are many supplements in the market, there is one that claims to help people get the muscle mass and weight they desire, and that supplement is none other than the infamous creatine supplement.

creatine1Creatine became popular in the 1990s as a performance-enhancing supplement for many athletes and body builders. Creatine supplements function to help the body in high-intensity activities by becoming a source of energy for skeletal muscles. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body. However, researchers in the early 20th century made a discovery of how the creatine amount in muscles can be artificially increased by the ingestion of larger than normal amounts of creatine. Since then, the use of creatine became popular among athletes, especially those participating in the Olympic games, to boost their overall physical performances. The functional design of artificial creatine was changed in the 1990s to support strength performance. It was during that time when it was marketed commercially for general use, and subsequent research into creatine supplements have led to its development to increase creatine muscle stores and concentrations. This all sounds good at first glance, but more recent studies into creatine supplementation has resulted to knowledge on the many ways creatine can actually be detrimental for your body in general.

Side Effects of Creatine Ingestion

If your goal is to become healthy altogether, then creatine is not for you. The purpose of creatine supplements is really to elevate performance levels for athletes and maybe for the general public when working out. Although high intensity training is popular these days, most people find the energy and rush to perform well in such types of workouts without having any need for extra creatine. Besides, creatine has many side effects that may even delay you from doing your desired or scheduled exercises.

Creatine can cause potential muscle cramps and strains. This can be due to the extra effort your body pulls off due to the excess of energy surging to your skeletal muscles. The energy does not always equate capability; therefore, cramps, strains, and injuries may happen as a result.Creatine can also cause upset stomachs and diarrhea for some people. While this particular side effect may not happen to everyone, it is still a possibility.

Another side effect of taking creatine supplements is water retention. To explain how it works in simpler terms, creatine increases the capability of your muscles to retain water. This is the reason why your body gets bigger when you are taking creatine. The mass your muscle holds is actually just water weight. You may get big when taking creatine, but as soon as you stop taking the supplements, your body will get rid of the water through natural means. Also as a result of taking creatine supplements, your blood pressure will be abnormally high due to an increase in water consumption that is expected. High blood pressure can become a dangerous situation if not monitored or handled properly.

Testosterone levels

creatine2Perhaps one of the more serious side effects of creatine supplementation is its effect on testosterone levels. Regular creatine ingestion can lead to an increase in testosterone in the body, which can become dangerous especially for men. High testosterone levels can lead to an increased risk for heart disease. Men can become at risk for atherosclerosis, a condition where the walls of arteries thicken dangerously. Other effects of high testosterone levels in the body include the abnormal growth of cysts in the prostate, an increase in breast size, fluid retention, and a reduced production of sperm. These are all uncomfortable situations to be in whether physically or emotionally and can be avoided by not taking creatine supplements.

Elevated testosterone levels can also increase the risk of myocardial infarctions or heart attacks. Men who regularly take creatine double their risk for heart attack when compared to those who have regular testosterone levels. Also, high testosterone in the body can cause sleep apnea, a serious and potentially fatal sleep disorder that causes the body’s breathing to stop time after time during normal sleep.

Skin problems

creatine3Creatine can also cause a host of skin problems, one of which is inflammation. Many of those who take creatine have also complained of the development of acne in the face and other body parts during and after a creatine regimen. This skin effect is also likely to be due to elevated testosterone levels as well. For a body builder, this will not work out too well and neither will it even for the general public, as skin problems can create a host of issues on their own.

Conclusion

There may be a couple of reasons why you might want to take creatine or why you might think it’s the best option for you. However, there are more reasons not to take creatine supplements, and the risks of doing so outweigh the potential benefits. There are just too many dangerous side effects associated with creatine supplementation that does not make it worth it to take. Fortunately, there are many other products in the market that can help you achieve your muscle, strength, and performance goals. Look for other products that have fewer side effects. If possible, go at it naturally. There’s no replacing hard exercise after all. You’ll get muscle mass, strength, and better performances as long as you do your workouts properly.

References

Bird, S. P. (2003). “Creatine Supplementation and Exercise Performance: A Brief Review” (PDF). Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2 (4): 123–132.

Engelhardt, Martin; Neumann, Georg; Berbalk, Anneliese; Reuter, Iris (1998). “Creatine supplementation in endurance sports”. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 30 (7): 1123–1129.

Green AL, Hultman E, Macdonald IA, Sewell DA, Greenhaff PL; Hultman; MacDonald; Sewell; Greenhaff (November 1996). “Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during creatine supplementation in humans”. Am. J. Physiol. 271 (5 Pt 1): E821–6.

Hoffman, J; Ratamess, N; Kang, J; Mangine, G; Faigenbaum, A; Stout, J (2006). “Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes”. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism. 16 (4): 430–46.