Creatine supplements have been getting a lot of press in the recent years. Once a trade secret of high performance athletes, it went mainstream courtesy of the Internet and is now being used regularly by people from all walks of life who wish to gain an extra edge in their training. Like any other consumable substance, it features potential pros and cons that should be closely understood by anyone considering its use. If you’re on the fence about trying supplements, this article will guide you through the pros and cons of creatine, hopefully leading to an informed decision.
What is creatine exactly?
Technically speaking, it is a nitrogenous organic acid which is produced naturally in our bodies from amino acids (also known as the building blocks for protein). It is transformed in the liver and distributed through the blood to muscles under strain. The actual supplements contain a compound called Creatine phosphate which is processed into ATP (adenosine triphospate), a major source of energy in anaerobic exercise. In simple terms, you can think of it as a simple fuel that your body can use to produce higher amounts of the kind of energy used in training.
Which are the Benefits of creatine?
The major benefit of using creatine supplements is getting a sizeable increase in stamina during heavy load workouts. You will find it will help build up your athletic capacity and endurance while training, as well as leading to a faster recovery from long intensive workouts… which in turn will give you better results in terms of increasing your muscle mass and volume.
There is also some evidence suggesting creatine could also be a neuro-protectant, meaning it can help prevent degenerative conditions and keep the brain in better working condition (which makes sense, since it is also a muscle). Additionally, recent evidence has discredited the myths that using creatine supplements can bring unwanted side effects such as dehydration or cramps. In short, at this point there is more evidence attesting to the benefits of creatine that adverting against its drawbacks.
What drawbacks are associated to Creatine?
The most notable drawback of creatine is that it does not do anything on its own. Unlike steroids, creatine does not lead directly to increased muscle mass; it just supplies additional energy that keeps the muscles from getting fatigues as quickly. This means that when using creatine supplements you will often realize your performance in weight training and even general sports is higher, but only in the same measure as you actually use the extra energy to train harder.
It is also worth noting that results tend to vary wildly: some people report next to no effects from creatine supplements, while others claim it gives them a very sizeable boosts. This is explained simply by differences in bio-chemistry between individuals, as well as a genetic predisposition towards more effective muscle mass building.
There are some reports suggesting that creatine supplementation may lead to liver issues, bloating and even the development of allergies, although these occurrences seem to be unusual.
It’s also worth noting that creatine supplements can be a bit pricey, but it can be certainly worth the investment for anyone who’s serious about increasing their athletic performance.
Now you have a notion of the pros and cons of creatine, should you use creatine as part of your training? There will probably be no harm, provided you actually have use for it. Remember, it only works as extra fuel for your trainings – it doesn’t build muscle on its own. What it does is help you push the boundaries of your training sessions by working stronger, harder, and longer.