How Does Creatine Work: Debunked Myths

From sun up to sun down, we are on the grind. We put in early hours at the box and we close down the gym at night. We are dedicated to a way of living that demands rigorous dedication and uncompromised grit.

Because of this unwillingness to compromise when it comes to accomplishing our goals, we demand the very best from our nutritional supplements and will go the extra mile to ensure that what we are putting in our body is of the highest quality. When it comes to a high quality supplement that has been shrouded in myth and rumor, no other sport supplement comes close to the often stigmatized creatine.

While creatine has gone through the rumor mill more times than a teenage girl at a new school, most of the information that is circling about creatine is false, or at the very least hearsay. Creatine is actually one of the most beneficial supplements that both bodybuilders and endurance athletes alike can add to their daily supplement regimen.

Creatine is in fact, an affordable, low risk, over the counter supplement that has proven effective in assisting strength training and performance results for everyone from college students to professional athletes, and is approved and considered legal by both the Olympic Committee and NCAA.

Creatine is especially beneficial in activities that require the body to use higher levels of ATP through the phosphagen system, which aids in short-burst energy for athletic activities such as powerlifting and sprinting. Our body creates creatine naturally, but taking creatine as a supplement helps this process, allowing for longer bursts during high-intensity workouts and more reps. Not only has creatine shown to be beneficial during high-energy training intervals, but has also been shown to aid cognitive function, as the brain also uses ATP as an energy source.

So, does creatine assist in building muscle? The answer is yes, by allowing for more reps or and increased energy you are able to build muscle faster. With all of this information, you would think that creatine would be a no-brainer for any serious bodybuilder or high-intensity athlete. However, due to the copious amounts of misinformation about creatine, many people still balk at adding it to their supplement program.

We have decided to look at the 4 most common creatine myths, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not creatine is right for you.

Creatine’s Effect on the Kidneys
The most prominent rumor surrounding creatine is that it negatively affects the kidneys. This may be true for people that are already suffering from kidney issues. However, there has never been any evidence that creatine has a negative effect on renal function in healthy adults without there being a pre-existing condition.

Creatine Causes Dehydration
Creatine does cause water retention in the muscles, but is not directly associated with dehydration. When athletes increase the intensity or duration of their workouts, they will need to increase their hydration intake. There has never been a direct correlation between creatine and dehydration in any of the creatine studies to date.

Creatine Causes Weight Gain
While some initial weight gain is normal due to water being stored in your muscles, i.e. water weight, the flip side is that creatine allows you to train harder and longer, often leading to increased muscle mass. It may not be ideal for those looking to cut or lose weight because of a competition, but you can stop cycling before a competition to offset any water weight the creatine may be contributing to.

Creatine Is Associated With Aggression
Another common misnomer associated with creatine is that is causes mood swings or aggression, similar to “roid rage”. Creatine is not directly linked to a rise in testosterone levels like steroids, and therefore isn’t to blame for mood swings. Your body naturally creates creatine in the pancreas, kidneys and liver to provide energy to the muscles during exercise, and creatine simply assists in this process by providing more energy when cranking out sets in the gym.

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18652079
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691485/pdf/14561278.pdf
http://aop.sagepub.com/content/39/6/1093.abstract.fr?patientinform-links=yes&legid=spaop;39/6/1093
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18184753

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