Bodybuilding 6 MIN READ 19433 VIEWS May 17, 2017

Creatine Benefits, Usage and Side Effects

Written By Rohini Nag

Creatine Benefits, Usage and Side Effects

One cannot turn a blind eye to the numerous creatine benefits and usage for bodybuilding, sports, and fitness. But is Creatine Supplement safe to use? Let's find out!

What is Creatine?

Creatine is commonly used in health supplements given to athletes and body builders. It energizes the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) of the human cell. Creatine takes form as phosphorous groups or phosphocreatine in the body that supplies energy to the cells. The benefits of creatine are seen as increased strength and stamina of the body. This mechanism helps the brain, muscles and even the liver to strengthen for sports. Creatine benefits also show increasing muscle size and are commonly used as a supplement by athletes training for sports. Creatine benefits, therefore, allow faster results as it can be used for high-intensity workouts.

Types of Creatine

Creatine monohydrate is a dietary athletic ergogenic supplement that can also be found in some natural foods. Some fish, eggs and even red-meat have these amino acids which may not be retained while cooking. Commonly known creatine protein powder and creatine tablets are also forms in which it can be added to the diet. The containment of creatine in the human body is natural. However, for faster muscle growth prescribed amounts of creatine monohydrate supplements can work wonders. It causes synthesis of proteins in the muscles for it to grow to make it ideal for body building. Types of creatine are in micronized, ethyl ester, liquid, and monohydrate forms.

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What does Creatine Do? 

Creatine enhances the performance of the body and muscles while training for sports such as sprinting or bodybuilding. As discussed earlier, taking creatine protein powder through diet and balancing it with supervised workouts can give faster results. It reduces muscle fatigue because of the energy it generates to the cell as molecules. Creatine benefits in this sense would be constantly creating power to the bones and muscles through the ATP and adenosine diphosphate (ADP) of the cells. However, creatine should not be confused with creatinine.

Top Creatine Benefits

  1. Increases muscle size suited for weight lifting and body building.
  2. Releases energy molecules to the body highly useful for sprinters.
  3. Endures body mass and leanness.
  4. Treats muscle recovery from injuries.
  5. Reduces unnecessary inflammation of muscles after intensive exercise.
  6. Resists muscle fatigue.
  7. Helps to produce energy for runners.
  8. Creatine is also known to help in neurodegenerative disorders and enhances brain functions.

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How to Use Creatine? 

If you are planning to train yourself in sports or even follow a workout regime your trainer will help you assess the needs of your body. You can take creatine supplements before running or cycling to last energy. Here are a few picks on how to use creatine for lasting muscle vigour at your fingertips.

  1. ‘Creatine loading’ is what amounts of creatine is applicable for intake every day.
  2. During first 5-7 days of workout roughly 0.3-5grams of creatine can be taken regularly depending on body weight during ‘creatine loading’. Discontinue if gastric issues occur.
  3. Use creatine powder in milk or creatine pills in dietary sessions as per training.
  4. Micronized creatine monohydrate is water soluble and better if taken in the fluid form.
  5. Creatine intake should be spread out in the day through diet/meals.
  6. You can take creatine supplements for 1-3 months depending on workout.
  7. You can also break the cycle of creatine intake into 1 ½ + 1 ½ months.
  8. Creatine products can be taken with carbohydrate rich foods.
  9. Go natural with fish, eggs and meat if you are not a vegetarian.
  10. Creatine effects if taken through supplements only (as for vegetarians) yield higher affectivity and results.

Women may wonder if creatine is good for them, the answer is yes. If you are taking as per your supervised dosage then it should not be a problem. It can, however, cause stomach bloating because the water weight you gain from creatine supplements may show up. It is best to follow your workout program and get your weight checked for a customized dosage.

Breakdown for Creatine Usage

Important points to remember:  

  • Creatine stock up and maintenance phases are different.
  • Stock up or ‘loading’ can be at higher quantities.
  • Maintenance phase should be reduced dosage spread evenly through diet.
  • Creatine should be mixed well.
  • Results determined by the type of creatine you are using.

The breakdown:

  • Creatine needs about an hour to produce energy in your muscles. Taking creatine before an hour of workout may be recommended.
  • Regulated dosage can be taken in breaks after hour long running or workout sessions.
  • After a running session, for example, take dosage for creatine storage as approved by trainer.

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Creatine Side Effects

There are several myths that go around regarding creatine usage. And time and time these creatine myths have been busted by health experts, trainers and nutritionists. Amongst the uses and benefits of creatine, common creatine side effects include stomach upsets or gastrointestinal problems. It is because creatine is produced in the liver and if you have gastric tendencies then every day dosage may not be favourable. Bloating of stomach due to water retention is another well-known side effect. There are no correlations between creatine intake and liver functions howsoever. But if existing liver conditions prevail seek doctor’s guidance. FYI here are some frequently asked questions about creatine such as:

1. Is creatine safe?
A: Yes, creatine is safe in regulated dosage through dietary intake if training for workouts/sports.

2. Does creatine affect the kidneys?
A: Creatinine affects the kidneys only at high levels. It can appear from creatine intakes however high levels of creatinine alone are not indicative of kidney problems. 

3. Is creatine a drug?
A: No, creatine is produced naturally in the human body and creatine pills and other products can only be used as supplements. 

4. Is creatine good for women?
A: Depending on your workout, creatine supplements can be taken but you may feel bloating. 

5: Should creatine be avoided altogether?
A: It is a common supplement used for body building and sports training. If these are not your areas then you may want to consult a dietician before adding creatine products to your diet. 

6. Should creatine be taken with existing kidney diseases?
A: No, it is best to avoid creatine supplements if kidney diseases due to swelling of tissues prevail. 

7. Is water intake required for creatine supplements?
A: A high amount of water intake is essential if creatine supplements are taken. 

8: Can creatine help in weight loss?
A: Taking creatine alone without a healthy workout will not reduce weight. Creatine is also not essentially known for weight loss but for building muscle mass. 

9: Is creatine a performance booster?
A: There are several research questions that enquire about the validation for creatine in anaerobic performances and overall sports performances. While some say creatine supplements give an overall performance boost, it is also researched that it accelerates energy and muscle size only. 

10: Is creatine a steroid?
A: Creatine is not a steroid. It is naturally found in the human body and is also an approved health supplement.

Prolonged Creatine Effects

Adverse creatine effects can be seen in the case of polycystic kidneys. If creatine capsules or creatine powder are ‘loaded’ frequently and in higher capacities than stomach distresses such as diarrhoea can be its side effects. Many make the mistake of overloading creatine during the first week or two of their workouts. This should be avoided as quantities of creatine intake must attune to bodyweight and training needs only.

Prolonged effects of creatine can cause liver or kidney problems if used in high amounts always. There are no such adverse side effects for prolonged usage for say up to 7-9 months. If taken in regulated dosage then side effects are not too risky. A normal creatine level in the body does not cause any of the aforesaid side effects. If you decrease higher dosages or stop taking supplements altogether creatine levels resume back to normal.

More Uses of Creatine

With such extraordinary benefits that help in recovery and regeneration of muscles, it has been a proven useful supplement. For athletic and bodybuilding alone it has proven to be an energizer spurt. A few additional facts to remember are:

  • Creatine pills are ethyl ester ( a type of creatine) which may not be needed for the stock-up phase.
  • Micronized creatine can go with juice or water.
  • Consult pharmacist or trainer on which brands of creatine supplements to buy from the market.
  • Read instructions on creatine product as stated by the manufacturer before intake.

The benefits of creatine can be counted in terms of mass and volume increase in muscles. Increase and sustenance in muscle tenacity can not only be productive to body builders but also to active workout enthusiasts.

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