long-term use, in addition to weight training, will increase lean body mass and decrease body fat
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body that helps supply energy to all cells, particularly muscles.
The way it works is that it increases the formation of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) which provides energy for muscle contractions.
Countless studies have found that Creatine does aid in performance in terms of power, endurance, strength and speed. Essentially, the supplement enables you to train harder and longer, leading to a higher work volume, and faster results.
Creatine can be found in protein-rich foods such as fish or meat but in only very minor amounts; 1kg of meat or fish would only yield 1 gram of creatine which is why athletes and gym goers turn to supplements.
For the majority the supplement is completely safe to take but, because creatine is a relatively new product and there is a lack of long-term studies, many are still dubious about taking it.
However, creatine has been linked to issues including: stomach distress, kidney stones, liver damage, weight gain, bloating and water retention but for the most part these are myths.
It has been found that five to seven per cent of people will experience some sort of gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhoea as a result of taking creatine so it as an extremely rare side effect.
Many creatine labels advocate what is known as a “loading phase” followed by a “maintenance phase” when you first start taking the supplement; this will, according to supplement companies, saturate your muscle creatine stores in the quickest way possible.
During a loading phase you will be initially taking a higher dosage of creatine e.g. 20 grams spread across 4 or 5 servings for the first week and after that you can take a maintenance dose of 5-10 grams daily.
This is obviously complete and utter rubbish spewed out by supplement companies and printed on the back of their creatine tubs so you will use more and as a result buy more of their product.
The human body can only absorb so much creatine and it is during these loading phases when these stomach related side effects are most likely to occur as your body needs to excrete a great deal of excess creatine.
Kidney Stones Liver Damage
None of the hundreds of studies conducted have shown a correlation between taking creatine and kidney or liver damage.
Creatinine (a by-product) of creatine is a marker used to diagnose kidney problems and if these levels are high the organ could be malfunctioning.
However, in the case of those who take the supplement this would most likely be a false positive and your kidneys will be working optimally.
There is even a case study of a man with a single kidney taking 20 grams of creatine daily alongside his high-protein diet and no issues were found.
The safest way to consume the supplement is to take 3-5 grams daily in order to maintain the saturation level of creatine within your body whilst avoiding the negative effects of the excess dosages.
It is a similar story regarding liver damage. Numerous human studies have been conducted proving the safety of creatine and that the supplement has no adverse effect on the liver’s functionality.
Unless you have a pre-existing medical condition such as polycystic kidney disease or liver disease, the supplement should be perfectly safe to take.
Weight Gain and Water Retention
These side effects are actually not a myth but weight gain is kind of the point when taking the supplement because the goal is gaining muscle mass.
Intake will likely lead to an initial weight gain because water is being pulled into the muscles but in the long-term low dosage supplementation, in addition to weight training, will yield an increase in lean body mass and a decrease in body fat.
Overall, with these myths debunked it is clear to see that creatine is perfectly safe to use; it is the most widely researched, effective and trusted supplement in the industry and will noticeably improve your workouts.
Even so, if you’re still unsure, please do consult your doctor before purchasing and consuming.