SEARCH BLOG POSTS
The Pros and Cons of Creatine
Wondering if creatine is right for you? Here’s what you need to know about creatine pros and cons before trying this supplement.
On the fence about taking creatine supplements? We understand—over the years, it has earned a bad reputation. Despite its proven health and fitness benefits, the media has long made unfounded claims about the dangers of creatine powders and supplements. The truth is, there are tons of creatine pros that you might not have heard about.
If you want to separate fact from fiction, read on. Today, we’re covering the benefits of creatine and any potential drawbacks it may have. At Jack City, we’re fitness experts—and we love to share our knowledge with you!
What Is Creatine?
Fun fact: Even if you’ve never touched the powder in your life, creatine is coursing through your bloodstream right now. That’s because creatine itself is naturally occurring and produced right in your own body. Some people, however, have more levels of this compound in their bodies than others due to diet. Most animal-based proteins (particularly beef) are big sources of creatine, so carnivores tend to have higher levels than vegetarians and vegans.
Why Do People Take Creatine Supplements?
Lots of people want to increase their creatine levels; one of the primary reasons why is because creatine has many known health benefits. Plus, increasing creatinine is a proven way to safely and naturally enhance athletic performance. Supplements are an affordable, low-volume, well-researched way to increase your creatine levels.
How To Incorporate Creatine Into Your Routine
Everybody is different, and the creatine routine we are about to describe is a general suggestion, not a hard and fast rule. If you’ve never taken creatine supplements before, speak with a healthcare professional before starting. They will take your health and physical history into account to determine that supplements are right for you and tailor any recommendations to your own stats.
When you begin taking creatine supplements, you have two options. Some people, particularly athletes, begin with a phase called “loading,” which involves taking large amounts every day for around a week before settling into a smaller daily dose. The second camp of people don’t load and simply begin taking the smaller daily dose straight away.
Creatine Loading Dose
Creatine loading is done to create larger stores of the compound in muscles. As we mentioned, it takes about a week, though some folks only load for five days. In general, a loading dose is 20 grams per day, but we certainly don’t recommend taking everything at once. Instead, spread it out over the day in four servings of five grams each. After a week, you will only need three to five grams a day for maintenance—and you can continue with that dose for as long as you take creatine. You will not need to load again.
Creatine Regular Dose
A regular creatine dose is the same as a post-loading one: three to five grams daily. While a regular creatine dose won’t see such dramatic results immediately, you’ll get there after about a month.
Pros and Cons: Creatine
What are the pros and cons of creatine? We’ve broken some of the most important ones down.
Pros of Creatine
Here are some of the biggest benefits of taking creatine supplements:
Increased Athletic Performance
This is perhaps the biggest reason why people love creatine—it’s amazing for athletic performance! The extra energy that creatine provides your muscles allows for longer, more intensive workouts. This results in bigger, stronger muscles that don’t tire as easily. In fact, some studies have even shown that creatine can help with muscle recovery after a heavy gym sesh.
Big muscles aren’t the only way creatine helps athletic performance. All sorts of high-intensity workouts and competitive sports are more successful when athletes have high creatine levels.
Potential Boosted Mental Function
While creatine is mainly stored in muscles, other parts of your body have some, too. This includes the brain! Because of this, many people believe that creatine supplements can be used to help manage neurological conditions and improve brain function and memory. While the few studies surrounding these theories have indicated that these benefits are indeed valid, not much research has occurred.
It’s Not Just for Young Athletes
While young bodybuilders and sportspeople love creatine supplements, they aren’t the only ones taking them. In fact, creatine powders and supplements are actually a fantastic way to combat some of the difficulties associated with aging, including sarcopenia—the muscle loss and function decrease that many experience as they get older. Studies have shown that older adults who take creatine and participate in resistance training gain more muscle than those who only work out.
Improved Physical Health
It has been suggested that creatine supplements can help manage blood sugar levels and the symptoms of fatty liver disease unrelated to alcohol. However, not a lot of research has been conducted on these subjects.
Cons of Creatine
So, are there any creatine cons? It depends on the individual. Below, we’ve listed a few potentials.
If you’re a newcomer to supplements, the rumors following creatine can feel scary. We’ve heard all types of unfounded claims about creatine supplements; some say it even in safe doses, it harms the livers or kidneys. Others swear it causes cramps and dehydration. Studies have not backed these claims up. However, we do 100% recommend that anybody who has preexisting liver or kidney issues speak to their doctor about an appropriate dose before trying creatine supplements.
While we have plenty of research to prove the safety and effectiveness of creatine supplements, there are still miles to go on the topic. Currently, many potential benefits of creatine have been suggested, but until more applied research and studies are carried out, they remain unproven.
Gastrointestinal Issues During Loading
Some people who do a week of loading before beginning their regular creatine dosage experience gastrointestinal issues like bloating or diarrhea. While this is certainly uncomfortable, it can be easily dealt with: you can either reduce your dosage (around 10 grams is still plenty for loading) or spread your intake out a bit more over the day.
Potential Hair Loss
If you are predisposed to alopecia or other hair-loss conditions, you might want to give creatine supplements a miss. One study conducted back in 2009 found that creatine can increase DHT, a hormone linked to hair loss. While this does not directly mean that creatine causes hair loss, many individuals with hair loss conditions avoid it just in case.
Get Fitness Advice From Pros
Whether you want to talk creatine pros and cons, gains, nutrition, or anything else, Jack City Fitness is the place to go. We offer everything the Boise athlete needs to succeed: excellent personal training, engaging classes, and 24/7 access to all of our Partners.
Get in touch with our team today by calling (208) 999-1111. We’ll invite you over for a FREE InBody fitness consultation and a chance to meet our coaches and nutritional counselors. If you like what you see, you can get started right away.
We can’t wait to help you smash your goals!