Creatine is considered “the most researched” muscle supplement and has been promoted heavily over the last few decades. It’s presented as one of best diet additions for natural bodybuilders.
However, is the hype backed up by real results?
Function: The main function of creatine is increase of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).
ATP is known as “nature’s energizer” and is produced by almost all living things. ATP is essentially the “spark that lights the fire”. It triggers cellular metabolism. Without ATP cells have no energy to repair, reproduce and function.
Creatine is an amino acid first synthesized in the liver. 95% of it is transported to the skeletal muscle – tissue with high energy demand.
When the need for energy is high, ATP is rapidly re-synthesized with the use of phosphocreatine (PCr) through a reversible reaction with the enzyme creatine kinase (CK). Since creatine increases muscle stores of PCr, body’s ability to re-synthesized ATP improves as well. Consequently, muscle endurance goes higher.
Creatine is not an essential nutrient. The body can produce creatine from the amino acids L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. Protein sources rich in these amino acids provide all the creatine needed for good health. Supplements never put that on the label, do they?
Experts believe that since creatine supplementation increases energy, one should be able to do more repetitions per exercise. More reps are supposed to stimulate more muscle growth. For example: a bodybuilder can bench press 80kg for 5 reps; he starts using creatine and benches 80kg for 8 reps; the three added reps are supposed to stimulate higher muscle hypertrophy. However, it’s hard to tell if those three additional reps are not just placebo. And how are a few reps supposed to change your physique anyway?
Excessive amounts of creatine has been used by many lifters. There are people who have been using the stuff for years and years with zero results. This is not a surprise because supplementation plays a very small portion in the process of getting bigger. Nutrition and training are more important.
The big believers in creatine are easy to spot in every gym. They are the smallest guys with the thinnest wallets. Everything about creatine can be summarized in a few lines:
Creatine is not an effective muscle builder and most of its effect is placebo induced.
- Creatine is not an effective strength enhancer – strength and endurance are two different things. Strength coaches consider creatine supplementation unimportant when you perform low repetition sets.
Creatine decreases muscle definition due to increased water retention.
Creatine often causes diarrhea.
Creatine can causes kidney problems. The risk is LOW but it’s not zero. People who are more likely to be affected are patients with pre-existing kidney problems.
Turn off the TV, read more, love more and don’t trust bodybuilding propaganda.
Note: For alternative to pre-workout supplements read this article: Pre-Workout Substitutes?
http://www.bidmc.org/. Creatine. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Retrieved 2010-08-23
http://www.shankara.com/. What Is ATP? What does it stand for and what is the mechanism by which it energizes cells?.
http://www.sportsci.org/. Creatine and kidney damage?. Will G Hopkins PhD, Physiology and Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin 9001, New Zealand