Despite being one of the most popular supplements in the world, many people know little about creatine.
For example, most have heard that creatine boosts performance, enhances muscle growth, and accelerates recovery. Still, few know how it works, how it’s made, which form is best, and so forth.
You’ll also often hear that creatine is linked to various negative side effects, like kidney damage, hair loss, and more.
In this article, you’ll learn science-based answers to the top 10 questions I get about creatine and its effects.
1. How Does Creatine Work?
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the most basic unit of cellular energy. When cells use ATP, they split it into smaller molecules, and when they’re finished, they “reassemble” the fragments back into ATP for reuse.
The more ATP your cells can store and the faster your body can regenerate ATP, the more “work” it can do.
Creatine donates a molecule to an ATP precursor called adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which expedites ATP production, enabling your body to replenish its ATP store more rapidly.
That’s why supplementing with creatine boosts muscle growth, increases strength and power, improves anaerobic capacity, reduces fatigue, lessens muscle damage and soreness after exercise, alters the expression of genes related to hypertrophy, and preserves muscle after grueling workouts.
Find the Perfect Supplements for You in Just 60 Seconds
You don’t need supplements to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy. But the right ones can help. Take this quiz to learn which ones are best for you.
Take the Quiz
2. How Is Creatine Made?
Your body produces creatine in the kidneys and liver by combining the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine to create creatine phosphate and phosphocreatine, which it then stores in your muscles.
Supplement manufacturers produce creatine exogenously (outside the body) by combining, heating, and pressurizing sodium sarcosine and cyanamide (not to be confused with cyanide).
They then cool the resulting product, turning it into creatine crystals, which they purify using a centrifuge, vacuum dry, and mill into a fine powder, ready for use.
3. Which Creatine Is Best?
Creatine monohydrate is the most well-studied and scientifically supported sports supplement available today. Research repeatedly shows that creatine monohydrate is safe to use and reliably boosts your athletic performance as much or more than other forms of creatine.
It’s also 3-to-5 times more affordable than other forms of creatine, making it the most cost effective.
Thus, creatine monohydrate is the gold standard of creatine, and nothing’s likely to dethrone it anytime soon. That’s why I chose it for my 100% natural post-workout supplement, Recharge.
(If you aren’t sure if Recharge is right for you or if another supplement might better fit your budget, circumstances, and goals, then take the Legion Supplement Finder Quiz! In less than a minute, it’ll tell you exactly what supplements are right for you. Click here to check it out.)
4. Can Creatine Expire?
That said, creatine monohydrate is exceptionally shelf stable and doesn’t degrade for several years, provided you keep it in cool, dry conditions.
Find the Best Diet for You in Just 60 Seconds
How many calories should you eat? What about “macros?” What foods should you eat? Take our 60-second quiz to get science-based answers to these questions and more.
Take the Quiz
5. Why Is Creatine Bad for You?
Some people believe creatine is bad for your kidneys, but this is a misunderstanding.
If you have healthy kidneys, creatine doesn’t harm your kidneys.
Even if you have impaired kidney function, you’re unlikely to experience any problems. That said, consult your doctor before taking creatine if you have any questions or concerns about how it might affect your kidney health.
One of the reasons people believe creatine stresses the kidneys relates to a substance known as creatinine, which your body produces when it metabolizes creatine.
In sedentary people not supplementing with creatine, elevated creatinine levels can indicate kidney problems. You should expect high creatinine levels if you exercise regularly and supplement with creatine, though, and it’s not harmful in this case.
You may have also heard that taking creatine can lead to hair loss.
One study conducted by scientists at Stellenbosch University found that creatine raised levels of dihydrotestosterone or DHT, a hormone that hastens hair loss in susceptible men.
Specifically, they found that the normal protocol of taking 20 grams of creatine per day for a week followed by 5 grams a day for 2 weeks increased DHT levels in male rugby players by about 40-to-60%.
That said, the study had several limitations (one being they didn’t actually measure hair loss, just a hormone often associated with it), and the results haven’t been replicated since. Thus, there’s very little evidence that creatine contributes to hair loss.
6. Are Creatine Capsules Good?
Yes, provided they contain 3-to-5 grams of creatine monohydrate per serving.
They aren’t necessarily better than powdered creatine, but there’s nothing wrong with taking creatine in capsule or tablet form.
7. Should You Take Creatine for Weight Loss?
Taking creatine probably won’t boost fat loss to a meaningful degree.
Still, supplementing with creatine while in a calorie deficit is smart because it helps you retain your muscle and strength, which is vital for improving your body composition.
8. What’s the Best Creatine for Women?
The best creatine for women is creatine monohydrate.
And while we’re on the topic, women don’t have to worry that creatine will cause bloating or “make them bulky.”
Bloating generally only occurs if you take a large dose of creatine all at once, which isn’t necessary to maximize its benefits and doesn’t occur in everyone, and getting bulky never was.
(If you want more tips about the best way to train, diet, and supplement for females, check out my fitness book for women, Thinner Leaner Stronger.)
9. What’s the Best Creatine for Teens?
In the past, scientists have suggested—without scientific evidence or rationale—that teenagers who take creatine exhibit “unhealthy” or “disturbing” behavior similar to those who take anabolic steroids.
As a consequence, many health and fitness experts have been reluctant to recommend creatine supplementation to anyone under the age of 18.
However, most research on teenagers shows that creatine is well-tolerated and effective at boosting athletic performance. In other words, creatine seems to have similar effects in teenagers as in young, middle-aged, and older adults (which makes sense, since it’s basically just refined amino acids).
Thus, the proper dose of creatine for teens is the same as for adults: 3-to-5 grams of creatine monohydrate daily.
Some Nutritionists Charge Hundreds of Dollars for This Diet “Hack” . . .
. . . and it’s yours for free. Take our 60-second quiz and learn exactly how many calories you should eat, what your “macros” should be, what foods are best for you, and more.
Take the Quiz
10. What’s the Best Creatine for Runners?
Most research suggests that creatine isn’t particularly effective at improving endurance performance.
This isn’t surprising given that your body uses a combination of glucose, glycogen, and body fat—not phosphocreatine—to fuel long-duration exercise.
As such, creatine isn’t as valuable to long-distance runners as to athletes who perform brief, intense bursts of effort (sprinters or powerlifters, for example).
That’s not to say creatine is useless for runners—it reduces soreness, muscle damage, and inflammation, protects against exercise-induced muscle breakdown, boosts recovery, and may enhance heat tolerance, which is beneficial if you race in hot, humid conditions.
And if you want to make the most of these benefits, take 3-to-5 grams of creatine monohydrate daily.
+ Scientific References
- Wallimann, T., Tokarska-Schlattner, M., & Schlattner, U. (2011). The creatine kinase system and pleiotropic effects of creatine. Amino Acids, 40(5), 1271–1296. https://doi.org/10.1007/S00726-011-0877-3
- Persky, A. M., Brazeau, G. A., & Hochhaus, G. (2003). Pharmacokinetics of the dietary supplement creatine. Clinical Pharmacokinetics, 42(6), 557–574. https://doi.org/10.2165/00003088-200342060-00005
- Guzun, R., Timohhina, N., Tepp, K., Gonzalez-Granillo, M., Shevchuk, I., Chekulayev, V., Kuznetsov, A. V., Kaambre, T., & Saks, V. A. (2011). Systems bioenergetics of creatine kinase networks: physiological roles of creatine and phosphocreatine in regulation of cardiac cell function. Amino Acids, 40(5), 1333–1348. https://doi.org/10.1007/S00726-011-0854-X
- Branch, J. D. (2003). Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 13(2), 198–226. https://doi.org/10.1123/IJSNEM.13.2.198
- Camic, C. L., Hendrix, C. R., Housh, T. J., Zuniga, J. M., Mielke, M., Johnson, G. O., Schmidt, R. J., & Housh, D. J. (2010). The effects of polyethylene glycosylated creatine supplementation on muscular strength and power. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(12), 3343–3351. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0B013E3181FC5C5C
- Eckerson, J. M., Stout, J. R., Moore, G. A., Stone, N. J., Iwan, K. A., Gebauer, A. N., & Ginsberg, R. (2005). Effect of creatine phosphate supplementation on anaerobic working capacity and body weight after two and six days of loading in men and women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19(4), 756–763. https://doi.org/10.1519/R-16924.1
- Saichandee, P., Sanguanrungsirikul, S., & Anomasiri, W. (n.d.). Low dose creatine supplementation enhances sprint phase of 400 meters swimming performance – PubMed. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16083193/
- Safdar, A., Yardley, N. J., Snow, R., Melov, S., & Tarnopolsky, M. A. (2008). Global and targeted gene expression and protein content in skeletal muscle of young men following short-term creatine monohydrate supplementation. Physiological Genomics, 32(2), 219–228. https://doi.org/10.1152/PHYSIOLGENOMICS.00157.2007
- Tang, F. C., Chan, C. C., & Kuo, P. L. (2014). Contribution of creatine to protein homeostasis in athletes after endurance and sprint running. European Journal of Nutrition, 53(1), 61–71. https://doi.org/10.1007/S00394-013-0498-6
- Antonio, J., Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Gualano, B., Jagim, A. R., Kreider, R. B., Rawson, E. S., Smith-Ryan, A. E., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Willoughby, D. S., & Ziegenfuss, T. N. (2021). Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2021 18:1, 18(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1186/S12970-021-00412-W
- Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D. S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., Candow, D. G., Kleiner, S. M., Almada, A. L., & Lopez, H. L. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2017 14:1, 14(1), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1186/S12970-017-0173-Z
- Kilduff, L. P., Vidakovic, P., Cooney, G., Twycross-Lewis, R., Amuna, P., Parker, M., Paul, L., & Pitsiladis, Y. P. (2002). Effects of creatine on isometric bench-press performance in resistance-trained humans. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34(7), 1176–1183. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200207000-00019
- Fazio, C., Elder, C. L., & Harris, M. M. (2022). Efficacy of Alternative Forms of Creatine Supplementation on Improving Performance and Body Composition in Healthy Subjects: A Systematic Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 36(9), 2663–2670. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000003873
- Jäger, R., Purpura, M., Shao, A., Inoue, T., & Kreider, R. B. (2011). Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino Acids, 40(5), 1369. https://doi.org/10.1007/S00726-011-0874-6
- Pline, K. A., & Smith, C. L. (2005). The effect of creatine intake on renal function. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 39(6), 1093–1096. https://doi.org/10.1345/APH.1E628
- Gualano, B., Ferreira, D. C., Sapienza, M. T., Seguro, A. C., & Lancha, A. H. (2010). Effect of short-term high-dose creatine supplementation on measured GFR in a young man with a single kidney. American Journal of Kidney Diseases : The Official Journal of the National Kidney Foundation, 55(3). https://doi.org/10.1053/J.AJKD.2009.10.053
- Banfi, G., & Del Fabbro, M. (2006). Serum creatinine values in elite athletes competing in 8 different sports: comparison with sedentary people. Clinical Chemistry, 52(2), 330–331. https://doi.org/10.1373/CLINCHEM.2005.061390
- Van Der Merwe, J., Brooks, N. E., & Myburgh, K. H. (2009). Three weeks of creatine monohydrate supplementation affects dihydrotestosterone to testosterone ratio in college-aged rugby players. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine : Official Journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, 19(5), 399–404. https://doi.org/10.1097/JSM.0B013E3181B8B52F
- Forbes, S. C., Candow, D. G., Krentz, J. R., Roberts, M. D., & Young, K. C. (2019). Changes in Fat Mass Following Creatine Supplementation and Resistance Training in Adults ≥50 Years of Age: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 4(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/JFMK4030062
- Rockwell, J. A., Walberg Rankin, J., & Toderico, B. (2001). Creatine supplementation affects muscle creatine during energy restriction. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(1), 61–68. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200101000-00011
- Ranby, K. W., Aiken, L. S., MacKinnon, D. P., Elliot, D. L., Moe, E. L., McGinnis, W., & Goldberg, L. (2009). A Mediation Analysis of the ATHENA Intervention for Female Athletes: Prevention of Athletic-Enhancing Substance Use and Unhealthy Weight Loss Behaviors. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34(10), 1069. https://doi.org/10.1093/JPEPSY/JSP025
- Metzl, J. D., Small, E., Levine, S. R., & Gershel, J. C. (2001). Creatine use among young athletes. Pediatrics, 108(2), 421–425. https://doi.org/10.1542/PEDS.108.2.421
- Greydanus, D. E., & Patel, D. R. (2010). Sports doping in the adolescent: the Faustian conundrum of Hors de Combat. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 57(3), 729–750. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.PCL.2010.02.008
- Juhász, I., Györe, I., Csende, Z., Rácz, L., & Tihanyi, J. (2009). Creatine supplementation improves the anaerobic performance of elite junior fin swimmers. Acta Physiologica Hungarica, 96(3), 325–336. https://doi.org/10.1556/APHYSIOL.96.2009.3.6
- Claudino, J. G., Mezêncio, B., Amaral, S., Zanetti, V., Benatti, F., Roschel, H., Gualano, B., Amadio, A. C., & Serrão, J. C. (2014). Creatine monohydrate supplementation on lower-limb muscle power in Brazilian elite soccer players. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 32. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-32
- Blanksby, B. A., Vladich, T., & Dawson, B. (n.d.). Effects of 4 weeks of creatine supplementation in junior swimmers on freestyle sprint and swim bench performance – PubMed. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12423175/
- Grindstaff, P. D., Kreider, R., Bishop, R., Wilson, M., Wood, L., Alexander, C., & Almada, A. (1997). Effects of creatine supplementation on repetitive sprint performance and body composition in competitive swimmers. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 7(4), 330–346. https://doi.org/10.1123/IJSN.7.4.330
- Mohebbi, H., Rahnama, N., Moghadassi, M., & Ranjbar, K. (2012). Effect of creatine supplementation on sprint and skill performance in young soccer players. Middle East Journal of Scientific Research, 12(3), 397–401. https://doi.org/10.5829/IDOSI.MEJSR.2012.12.3.64214
- Ostojic, S. M. (2004). Creatine supplementation in young soccer players. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 14(1), 95–103. https://doi.org/10.1123/IJSNEM.14.1.95
- Yáñez-Silva, A., Buzzachera, C. F., Piçarro, I. D. C., Januario, R. S. B., Ferreira, L. H. B., McAnulty, S. R., Utter, A. C., & Souza-Junior, T. P. (2017). Effect of low dose, short-term creatine supplementation on muscle power output in elite youth soccer players. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/S12970-017-0162-2
- Theodorou, A. S., Cooke, C. B., King, R. F. G. J., Hood, C., Denison, T., Wainwright, B. G., & Havenetidis, K. (1999). The effect of longer-term creatine supplementation on elite swimming performance after an acute creatine loading. Journal of Sports Sciences, 17(11), 853–859. https://doi.org/10.1080/026404199365416
- Wax, B., Kerksick, C. M., Jagim, A. R., Mayo, J. J., Lyons, B. C., & Kreider, R. B. (2021). Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations. Nutrients, 13(6). https://doi.org/10.3390/NU13061915
- Fernández-Landa, J., Santibañez-Gutierrez, A., Todorovic, N., Stajer, V., & Ostojic, S. M. (2023). Effects of Creatine Monohydrate on Endurance Performance in a Trained Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1007/S40279-023-01823-2
- Santos, R. V. T., Bassit, R. A., Caperuto, E. C., & Costa Rosa, L. F. B. P. (2004). The effect of creatine supplementation upon inflammatory and muscle soreness markers after a 30km race. Life Sciences, 75(16), 1917–1924. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2003.11.036
- Cooke, M. B., Rybalka, E., Stathis, C. G., & Hayes, A. (2018). Myoprotective Potential of Creatine Is Greater than Whey Protein after Chemically-Induced Damage in Rat Skeletal Muscle. Nutrients, 10(5). https://doi.org/10.3390/NU10050553
- Cooke, M. B., Rybalka, E., Williams, A. D., Cribb, P. J., & Hayes, A. (2009). Creatine supplementation enhances muscle force recovery after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 6, 13. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-6-13
- Volek, J. S., Mazzetti, S. A., Farquhar, W. B., Barnes, B. R., Gómez, A. L., & Kraemer, W. J. (2001). Physiological responses to short-term exercise in the heat after creatine loading. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(7), 1101–1108. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200107000-00006
- Powers, M. E., & Weiss, B. A. (n.d.). Creatine supplementation does not impair the thermoregulatory response during a bout of exercise in the heat – PubMed. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17119520/
Fitnessnacks- #Top #Questions #Creatine #Supplements #Answered #Science
Courtesy : https://legionathletics.com/top-10-questions-about-creatine-supplements/