If you’ve been working out in the gym for some time now, you’ve probably heard some of your peers talk about creatine supplementation.
If you’ve been trying to build muscles, your personal trainer may have even made a pitch about the benefits of creatine in getting a bulkier build and improved muscle strength.
Now, the question that may be circling in your head is whether or not to supplement with creatine. Let’s look at the pros and cons, shall we?
What is creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid, the building blocks of protein, that is naturally produced by your body, particularly by your kidney, liver and pancreas.
Body cells, including your muscles, use creatine to supply energy to perform countless body processes. More specifically, from creatine, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is synthesized.
Why supplement with creatine?
In general, experts recommend using creatine only among people who are in a good health standing.
Creatine supplementation has been proven beneficial in the following instances:
#1 – Increasing muscle strength and endurance during high performance workouts and when bodybuilding
Creatine supplementation is generally acceptable for men who lift weights to build more muscle. A study concluded that muscle growth was directly correlated with creatine supplementation and intense resistance training.
Another study recommended the use of creatine supplementation to improve the body’s energy stores.
More specifically, this study observed the effect of creatine supplementation on enduring longer hours of cycling. Creatine supplementation was shown to increase glycogen content of muscles.
#2 – For the treatment or therapy of several diseases
This includes diseases of the nervous system, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart diseases, stroke prevention, nerve-related diseases such as osteoporosis, and various other diseases, including muscle-related disorders.
A study conducted in 2015 is considered a landmark study for its discovery of the use of creatine in rescuing the body from the impact of an oxygen-deficit environment.
Subjects were found to be on a so-called “more excited state” which is responsible for shielding the nerves from damage.
#3 – For the prevention of aging skin
The makers of Nivea, Beiersdorf, carried out an intensive study that showed creatine improves the youthful appearance and feel of the skin.
Just like collagen, creatine levels decrease in production as we age. These days, it is becoming common to find creatine in moisturizers and anti-wrinkle creams.
What creatine does to the skin two pronged.
First, it revitalizes and re-energizes sluggish skin cells so that it may produce higher levels of collagen, elastin, and other skin precursors to enable skin repairs and turnover at a higher volume and a more rapid rate.
Second, creatine, when applied topically, attracts water to the surface of the skin which makes skin feel silky and supple to the touch.
#4 – Recommended for vegetarians
Animal meat is the richest food source of creatine, and since vegetarians will obtain much lower levels, supplementing with creatine will help restore a natural balance.
Does Creatine cause acne? Myths and facts about creatine supplementation
Myths abound regarding the use of creatine for supplementation. The situation is bad, considering that creatine is one of the most studied dietary supplements around.
This is our low-down on the myths and facts about creatine supplementation:
Fact No. 1 CREATINE CAUSES ACNE, HEADACHE AND DIARRHEA
Indirectly, creatine may trigger an acne breakout. It’s a possibility given that creatine can dry up the skin because it brings more water to the muscles.
On the other hand, because creatine is essentially protein and hormones are made from and controlled by proteins, there is a probability that creatine may trigger acne.
Although, the connection between creatine and hormones remains to be highly disputed.
Men and women who are supplementing with creatine have shared highly variable side effects of creatine in relation with acne. Some have reported breakouts while others said they didn’t grow acne when they started supplementing.
Dehydration is the more likely cause of acne. When your body and skin are dehydrated, your oil glands tend to overcompensate. That means more grease on your skin’s surface and in your pores, creating an environment that is favorable to acne causing bacteria.
So, consider drinking plenty of fluids, eating well, exercising regularly and practicing good skin hygiene as remedies for your acne breakout.
There are also anecdotal reports of creatine causing headache and diarrhea mostly among new users.
Most of the time adjusting the amount and frequency of creatine intake solves the problem.
Myth No. 1 CREATINE IS A STEROID
Creatine is not a steroid. Many people mistake it for steroids because it pumps up the energy stored in your muscles so that you can do more reps and sets without feeling fatigued.
Fact No. 2 CREATINE CAUSES WATER RETENTION AND WEIGHT GAIN
When you supplement with creatine, you can count on packing on some weight and noticeable thickness.
That’s the reason why male bodybuilders love supplementing with creatine while most women who perform intense workouts shy away from it.
Myth No. 2 CREATINE MAY HARM YOUR KIDNEYS
Since creatine is naturally produced by your body and more of it means your kidneys will have to breakdown larger volumes of creatine, some people readily assume that creatine supplementation may be harmful to your health.
Fact is, there has yet to be any study that makes a direct connection between creatine and poor kidney health.
Fact No. 3 CREATINE INCREASES ENERGY AVAILABLE FOR MUSCLES
Creatine supplies cells with an additional source of energy which many studies have shown to be of best use for a surge of intensity or need like a sudden sprint or additional reps of weightlifting.
For bodybuilders, more energy available for use of their muscles means more time to apply stress to it to build more muscles at a shorter period of time.
Myth No. 3 EVERYBODY NEEDS TO SUPPLEMENT WITH CREATINE
Not so. If you’re eating a well-balanced diet that includes meat and fish but, are not trying to build bulky muscles or perform intensive workouts on a regular basis, you don’t really have compelling need for creatine supplementation.
Athletes and bodybuilders stand to benefit the most from a creatine supplement.
Supplements are manufactured to perform very specific benefits for our health. Usually, we need them when we are unable to derive the volume we need from purely a healthy diet alone.
In the case of creatine, supplementation is only necessary under very specific cases. If you’re not one of these groups identified to benefit from creatine, don’t supplement. In which case, creatine may cause you more harm than good.