Creatine is one of the top sports performance supplements, yet there is a lot of controversy behind it. Many claim it causes digestive issues, liver and kidney trouble, weight gain, cramping and dehydration. Let’s take a closer look at what it does in the body, and see if we can determine if it is really the creatine causing the problems.
Creatine is made in our bodies naturally, with 95% stored in muscles. During high-intensity exercise, it is released to provide the muscles with more energy. Any excess that is not used is excreted via the kidneys and finally through the urine.
Dehydration and muscle cramping
- Creatine drives water from the body into the muscles
- The shift is minor and all studies done on the matter have shown no dehydration in subjects
- Creatine may actually be protective in dehydration and muscle cramping
- High doses of creatine do cause gradual weight gain of about 2 pounds per week (can be lessened with lower doses)
- The gain is from water content in muscles and muscle growth, not fat
- This is usually the desired effect of taking creatine—to gain muscle mass and improve sports performance
Kidney and liver problems
- Of all studies done to date, none have found negative effects on the kidneys or liver from use of creatine in healthy individuals
- It is advised to talk to your doctor before taking creatine if you have apre-existing kidney or liver disease
- Larger than recommended doses may cause digestive troubles
- Additives, ingredients, and/or contaminants in production may prove to be troublesome as well
- It is best to take doses of 3-5 grams and to purchase a trusted, high-quality product
Notes: Creatine is not an anabolic steroid, and is found naturally in the body, in meats, or in supplement form. Creatine is suitable for athletes, the elderly, men, women, and children when taken in the recommended doses.
Bottom Line: No evidence supports any of the myths surrounding creatine, and research has consistently confirmed its excellent safety profile. Creatine has been around for more than a century and over 500 studies support its safety and effectiveness.
Yours in Health,
Bastyr University Student Intern