Surely you’ve heard of creatine, given that it’s one of the most popular products ever and it has been generating a great deal of controversy since the 90’s. Although there are several scientific studies proving that this is a safe supplement, there are still lots of myths that keep creating some insecurities when it comes to buying it. It is a fact that this supplement is more popular among weightlifting athletes; however, any athlete that plays a high-intensity sport and that wished to increase his/her performance, may use this type of food supplement.
To sum up, creatine is a combination of aminoacids that are produced by the liver, kidneys and pancreas, and its function is to reduce the feeling of fatigue, by providing more energy to the cells. If your creatine level is higher – it eventually ends up happening, in case you’re on supplements – your performance will be bigger during physical activity. For example: you’ll be able to perform 8 reps instead of 6. It’s only natural that, in the medium term, its intake provides a consequent increase of muscle mass, strength and resistance.
To put an end to these myths, we’ll reveal 5 fake theories and the real truth about creatine.
1. Myth: Creatine doesn’t need to be taken as a supplement, because you can get it through other foods.
In fact, creatine can be found in certain foods (especially in red meats and fish), but the amount you’d have to take, per day, to get the benefits of a normal additional serving of protein would have to be extremely high.
2. Myth: Creatine has to be taken with a large serving of carbs so the body absorbs it well.
To make the absorption of creatine efficient, insulin release should be stimulated. Depending on your level and goals, maybe adding more carbs than you need is not the best option. Instead of taking, for example, 5g of creatine with 96g of carbs, you can have the same benefits if you take 5g of creatine with about 50g of protein and 40-50g of carbs.
3. Myth: Creatine isn’t safe for women.
Creatine is an aminoacid that can be found in every human being and in the foods you take in daily, so it is as safe for women as for any other person.
4. Myth: The more creatine you take, the better the results.
The truth is that it is precisely the opposite. Your body can’t synthetize more than 5g of creatine, and it ends up expelling it naturally through your urine. A study conducted by the Human Performance Laboratory, at the Ball State University, confirms that lower servings of creatine monohydrate (5g a day) are efficient. Some bodybuilders prefer to do the loading phase; however, it is not an imperative phase. Take a look at the most popular creatine cycles.
5. Myth: Using creatine causes renal impairment.
A study has gone through the effect of supplementation with creatine in the short, medium and long term, more specifically between 10 months to 5 years. The results have proven that there hasn’t been any case of kidney conditions in any of the individuals in the group. Another study has determined that no prejudicial effects were found during the trial period, when the recommended daily dosage was respected.
You take up to 2g of creatine through foods like meat and fish on a daily basis, which means that your body is ready to receive and digest creatine. Increasing the dosage through supplementation doesn’t seem to be a risk for the kidneys.
Although supplements may improve your overall health, provide more energy and, consequently maximize results, they won’t make you stronger or give you bigger muscles if there’s no stimulation, that is, if you don’t work out often and if you don’t have a balanced diet.
Attention: If you have a medical history that indicates some type of relevant problem in the liver or kidneys, you should seek medical advice. In case you don’t have any health-related problem, you can take creatine, always respecting the recommended daily dosage.
Karen Springen, Creatine: Myths and facts, Men’s Health, 14th of October 2012, translation and adaptation of the original version
Yoshizumi, WM et. al., Effects of creatine supplementation on renal function., 2004, translation and adaptation of the original version
Poortmans, JR et. al., Long-term oral creatine supplementation does not impair renal function in healthy athletes., August 1999, translation and adaptation of the original version
N/d, 10 Common Creatine Myths Dispelled, n/d, translation and adaptation of the original version