All About Creatine: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects And More

Date
June
12
2022
Compiled By Louise Rodriguez
Medically Reviewed By Dr. P Stein, MD FACT CHECKED

Generally, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts prefer to take supplements to grow muscles. But do you know how a supplement helps in the muscle-building process? 

The supplements contain several essential nutrients an individual requires to grow muscle mass in the body.

Moreover, some compounds like creatine, helpful in improving muscle mass, could be found in more significant quantities to fasten muscle growth. 

But why is creatine a promising compound for bodybuilders? Why do dietary supplements contain creatine is more significant portions?

Several questions about creatine revolve around unanswered questions, which you will get to know in this article.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is an organic found synthesized naturally in the human body. Creatine could benefit an individual in multiple ways, hence, a widely accepted compound included in dietary supplements.

Studies[1] have affirmed that creatine is responsible for supplying energy to the muscles to work efficiently for a more extended period.

Moreover, 95% of the creatine could be found in the skeletal muscles that give support to the bones. The remaining creatine could be found in the brain and testes. 

Primarily, you consume creatine from natural sources like red meat, seafood, etc., but they are in an optimum amount to support you lead a healthy life.

If you wish to work with efficiency at the gym, you may add creatine to get additional benefits.

What Does Creatine Do?

Creatine could be a beneficial supplement to improve health and performance[2] in the field.

The organic compound helps an individual by increasing the phosphocreatine stores in your muscle, which could be helpful to produce more Adenosine Tri-Phosphate or ATP (The Energy Currency Of The Cell).

With increased ATP production, you could efficiently perform heavy tasks like heavy weight lifting, high-intensity work, etc.

Alongside boosting energy production, creatine is also responsible for altering several cellular processes in the body.

These alterations might help you increase muscle mass and strength and fasten the recovery process.

Creatine Side Effects

  1. May Worsen Kidney Problems 

    Several studies[3] have mentioned that creatine consumption in optimum dosage might not cause any damage to the kidney.

    But, people struggling with kidney problems may worsen the condition by consuming creatine. Moreover, overdosing on creatine could also lead to kidney problems in you.

  2. Could Cause Muscle Cramping

    It is believed that creatine increases intracellular osmolality by entering the muscle cells. The creatine occupies the muscle cells, it causes a fluid shift from extracellular to intracellular compartments.

    Hence, due to fluid loss in the extracellular spaces, the cells experience a shrink that results in muscle cramps.

  3. May Cause Stomach Upset

    As creatine is barely soluble in water, it remains undissolved in the gastrointestinal tract. But, consuming creatine under prescribed doses won’t be much of a problem for you.

    If you consume creatine in excessive amounts, it may cause digestive issues.

  4. May Cause Electrolyte Imbalance

    If you lose excessive body fluids via sweat, urination, vomiting, etc., you might experience electrolyte imbalance in your body.

    The intake of creatine makes your body lose fluids heavily, which could be a reason for electrolyte imbalance.

  5. May Cause Some Heart Problems

    It is believed that creatine consumption could be a factor in elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Supplements containing creatine would increase the intensity of work that may result in overtraining.

    Hence, overtraining or training for an extended period might cause an increase in heartbeat and blood pressure.

Creatine Benefits

  1. May Help Muscle Cells Produce Additional Energy

    Creatine helps an individual by increasing the phosphocreatine stores in the muscle. These phosphocreatine stores would help muscle cells to produce excessive ATPs, which would later convert into energy.

    Hence, the more you exercise, the more ATP[4] would be broken to yield energy.

  2. May Play A Support Role

    As you know, creatine is primarily found in the skeletal muscles; hence, they help the bones to stay strong and healthy.

    Moreover, the organic compound helps form new muscle cells and rapidly increases[5] muscle mass. The increased muscle mass offers vital support to the body. 

  3. May Improve Brain Functioning

    Creatine supplements are a great energy source for the brain, as they increase the phosphocreatine stores in large numbers.

    The increased ATP synthesis in the brain could help function sharply and keep several neurological disorders at bay.

    Moreover, it may help to improve existing neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, etc.

  4. May Lower Blood Sugar Levels

    Creatine could potentially decrease blood sugar levels and fight diabetes effectively.

    Several studies have shown that creatine increases the GLUT-4 transporters in the body, responsible for allowing glucose to enter the muscles.

    But, the long-term effect of creatine on maintaining blood sugar levels is still a question.

  5. May Help Improve Cell Communication/ Signaling

    Creatine may improve cell communication which could play a role in faster repair and new muscle growth. Moreover, you could show immediate responses to stimuli with enhanced cell signaling.

Is Creatine Bad For You?

Creatine is a widely accepted and preferred dietary supplement to strengthen your muscles. It has been well-studied by the scientists and declared safe to use within the prescribed dosage.

But, in case of excessive consumption, the creatine could be harmful to the consumers. Overdosing of creatine could cause several health disorders and complicate existing issues.

Hence, consuming creatine within a specified quantity would not cause any side effects to the consumers, except for a few like nausea, vomiting, etc.

Moreover, the International Olympic Committee and National Collegiate Athletic Association have legalized creatine supplement consumption.

How Much Creatine Should I Take?

While consuming creatine, it is essential to keep quantity under control. You should consume creatine in two methods for better safety and accuracy of the amount. 

  • Creatine Loading

    In this method, you should consume 0.3 grams of creatine per kilogram of your weight. You should continue the “creatine loading phase” for one week initially.

    After the loading phase, switch to the maintenance phase, in which you should consume lower daily doses to balance the creatine level. 

  • Regular Low-Dose

    You should consume 3-5 grams of creatine regularly from the first day in this method. Hence, the “regular low-dose” method requires no additional loading phase.

When To Take Creatine?

Creatine consumption routine primarily depends on the workout day. As per the experts, you should consume creatine at different intervals during the workout days and on rest days. 

You should consume the specified amount immediately before or after the session on workout days. Do not delay the creatine consumption during the workout days to see a better effect.

On the other hand, you may consume creatine in the prescribed amount with the food on rest days. 

Creatine For Men

Creatine for men has an intense effect on building a strong body and enhancing their working ability.

The supplement might boost the energy level to a greater extent to easily do heavy tasks. Alongside muscle building, creatine sharpens the brain and helps to focus effectively. 

The organic compound may help elevate the testosterone level in men, which plays a significant role in controlling several functions. It could also help in bringing back the sex drive to normal.

Creatine For Women

Creatine for women has been effective in making them strong and tough. In premenopausal women, creatine improves athletic and exercise performance alongside strengthening muscles.

On the other hand, menopausal women consuming creatine in higher doses could observe an increase in skeletal muscle growth. 

Creatine may benefit a pregnant woman to avoid pregnancy complications like low oxygen levels during birth.

Conclusion

Creatine has been a beneficial supplement for people worldwide. Multiple surveys and experiments have proven the safety standards of creatine consumption.

Hence, it will be great if you start consuming creatine to gain muscle mass. But, don’t forget to consult a doctor or dietitian before adding creatine to your diet.

+5 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Robert Cooper, Fernando Naclerio, Judith Allgrove, and Alfonso Jimenez. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012; 9: 33. Published online 2012 Jul 20. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-33.
  2. Richard B. Kreider, Douglas S. Kalman, Jose Antonio, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017; 14: 18. Published online 2017 Jun 13. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z.
  3. Jorge Vega, Juan Pablo Huidobro E. [Effects of creatine supplementation on renal function]. Rev Med Chil. 2019 May;147(5):628-633. doi: 10.4067/S0034-98872019000500628. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31859895/.
  4. Renata Rebello Mendes, Julio Tirapegui. [Creatine: the nutritional supplement for exercise – current concepts]. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2002 Jun;52(2):117-27. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12184144/.
  5. I Mujika, S Padilla. Creatine supplementation as an ergogenic aid for sports performance in highly trained athletes: a critical review. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Oct;18(7):491-6. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-972670. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9414070/.

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