What does creatine do for your body that has so many people falling over themselves to take it?
Is creatine good for you as the manufacturers would have you believe, or is creatine bad for you and something to avoid?
That’s what we’ll be taking a brief look into today while answering the related questions:
- If anything, what is creatine good for?
- How does creatine work?
There are many touted benefits to taking creatine, and a few side effects also which we will get into shortly.
First off let’s find out…
What Is creatine good for?
- Increasing strength
- Accelerating recovery
- Increasing muscular endurance
- Increasing lean muscle mass
- Improving anaerobic capacity
- Increasing explosive power
- Decreasing age-related muscle loss
Aside from the above health and fitness specific benefits, creatine is also used to treat a whole host of medical conditions including:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Congestive heart failure (CHF)
- Gyrate atrophy
- Head trauma
- Huntington’s disease
- Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies
- Infant breathing problems while sleeping
- McArdle’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscle atrophy
- Muscle diseases
- Muscle cramps
- Muscular dystrophies
- Nerve diseases
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rett syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal muscle breakdown
- Surgery recovery
Not too shabby huh?
But are there any negatives to taking creatine?
Well, nothing has been proven but some people warn against its use under certain conditions.
How or when is creatine bad for you?
Here are a few of the things that usually come up as concerns with regards to the cons of creatine use.
- Kidney damage
- Liver Damage
- Heart damage
- Hair loss
- Stomach problems
- Muscle cramps
Concern has been shown that creatine MAY harm the liver, heart or kidneys if taken in high doses or for long terms although to date nothing has been scientifically proven.
If you take medication for or suffer from conditions related to any of the above you should probably avoid taking creatine without the thumbs up from a medical professional first.
Aside from the more serious sounding creatine side effects, there are other ‘minor’ things that come up with creatine use.
With regards to the stomach discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea, this may be down to a problem with absorption due to either taking to much, or the form of creatine you are taking just may not agree with you.
Basically, creatine draws water to itself, and if you have not digested it properly and it hangs around in the intestines for a while then you may experience those side effects. If this is the case with you, you may find that micronized creatine monohydrate is the best type of creatine for you.
How does creatine work In the body?
First of all, creatine is not a steroid so remove that idea from your mind if you have heard it anywhere.
Creatine actually occurs naturally in the body and is simply a combination of amino acids generated in the pancreas, kidneys, and liver.
To get into the technical side of things, when you take creatine it first forms a creatine phosphate molecule by bindings with a phosphate, and then the following occurs:
How does creatine improve performance?
“The muscles of the body function through the use of ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, to power contractions. When one molecule of ATP is used in the contraction process, it is hydrolyzed to ADP, adenosine diphosphate, and an inorganic phosphate. The muscles’ limited ATP supply is used very quickly in muscle activity, so the need to regenerate ATP is essential. One of the ways that this ATP supply is regenerated is through the molecule creatine phosphate (or phosphocreatine). In the process of regeneration of ATP, creatine phosphate transfers a high-energy phosphate to ADP. The products of this reaction are ATP and creatine.1″
ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) can be thought of as the energy currency of the body. When you supplement with creatine you are increasing the amount of ATP available to your muscles which is why athletes so often find it increases performance.
Are you sold?
Well, there is something else you should think about first as all forms of creatine are not created equal. Take a look at our article on the best form of creatine to find out which types are worthwhile buying, and which are useless.