Supplementation – Creatine

Almost everyone has heard of creatine, and if you’re not taking it, I guarantee somebody you know is, even if you don’t realise they are.

So why is creatine so popular? A huge part of this comes down to the fact that it is one of the most researched supplements, and has been on the market a lot longer than most of its competitors.

So let’s get the scientific bit out of the way. Creatine is a naturally forming organic acid – in fact it naturally occurs in most vertebrates. Let’s face it though, that doesn’t mean a great deal, does it? Simply put, creatine is produced by our bodies and helps us supply energy to our cells. Fortunately for us, this energy is primarily supplied to our muscles, which is why it is so popular among athletes.

There are a wide variety of creatine supplement products on the market, all claiming to offer different things. This creates a problem – which one do you take, and why? Well, creatine supplements often differ based on how effectively the creatine is absorbed. This explains why some creatine supplements are high in carbohydrates – carbs are broken down into sugars by the body, providing an insulin ‘spike’ allowing greater amounts of creatine absorption.

Creatine is taken by a lot of athletes, but the primary benefits are experienced when performing maximum power sports, for example sprinting or power lifting. This doesn’t mean if you’re training for a marathon it is useless, it just means that the effects for anaerobic exercise tend to be greater.

Like I said before, creatine naturally forms in vertebrates, so red meat is a great source of creatine, but as you probably already know, eating copious amounts of red meat isn’t wise. Just to put it into context, every 2 lbs of red meat contains around 5 grams of creatine.

Needless to say there are plenty of people out there trying to pick faults in creatine supplements. As a result, several myths have surfaced on the internet in recent years. Let’s look at a few:

  • Bloating

Creatine supplements often contain carbs or sugars to help aid absorption – if you’re loading creatine then it’s the sugar causing the bloating not the creatine. Many forms of supplement can be found with replacements for sugar, e.g. Russian tarragon.

  • Kidney Problems

Certain blood tests show that people using creatine have high levels of creatinine – its by product. Well obviously if you take more creatine you will notice more creatinine. The fact is that by the time you pass urine most of the creatinine has been removed by the kidneys. The truth is unless you have a pre-existing kidney problem, then creatine is perfectly safe.

The internet can be used to find horror stories about most things – that doesn’t mean they are true. The simple fact is that creatine is the most researched supplement on the market. Would a product that has been available for over 20 years still be readily available if it was detrimental to your body? Of course not.

Research has conclusively shown creatine to be one of the most effective supplements on the market, not to mention one of the cheapest. So what do we have? A relatively inexpensive, performance-enhancing, clinically proven supplement. Of course you should do your research, but that applies to anything you’re going to put in your body.

If you’re not particularly keen on taking supplements, don’t take them. Hard work in the gym will do far more for you than any supplement. However if you want to aid what you’re doing in the gym, particularly maximum power workouts, creatine supplements are superb pre-workouts and are almost universally recommended.


Ollie Lawrence
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