Q&A Tuesday – Benefits of Creatine Supplementation

by Chris on May 17, 2011

A friend of mine contacted me this past week with the following question regarding creatine: What are the benefits/negative effects, and would one use it the same way one would use something like whey protein?

Creatine is one of the most widely used supplements out there.

Basically, creatine is an actual form of energy that your muscles use except creatine is used predominantly for intense work (i.e. explosive lifting, heavy lifting, sprinting, etc.). So when you supplement with creatine, you’re essentially putting more of that energy source into your muscles. The end result is that you can generally lift a little more. Other effects that I’ve read about are enhanced recovery due to the process of creatine being pulled into your muscles and helping bring other nutrients along. Certain types of creatine (like creatine monohydrate, which is what I use) also pull water into your muscles with it, so an effect can be increased weight due to the extra water you’re holding onto. It’s worth noting that the only form of creatine (and there are MANY) that has any legitimate scientific research backing it up is creatine mono, despite what all of these supplement companies tell you.

There are few (reliably) documented negative side effects of creatine use. There have been reports dehydration and some people report bloating or gastrointestinal discomfort when supplementing with it. It’s important to make sure you are keeping adequately hydrated when taking creatine.

As far as usage is concerned, creatine monohydrate is taken either in a 5 day loading period followed by a maintenance period or you can just skip the load. However, skipping the loading period means you also have to wait for the effects of the creatine to kick in.
I have referenced this site and the chart on it for my own creatine use:

I am not an expert in supplementation or a nutritionist/dietician, so I try to avoid recommending any supplements. In the end it’s your choice regarding any type of supplementation you decide to use. Everyone’s body chemistry is different and some people react poorly to different supplements. Make sure you are well informed about a supplement before trying it and be aware that you assume any risks associated with that supplement when you start taking it.

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