The Benefits and Side Effects of Creatine

By inspiresa | In Become a Personal Trainer, Certificate III in Fitness, Fitness Gold Coast, Fitness Tips, Health, Health tips | on October 2, 2012

What is creatine?

Creatine is an amino acid (amino acids are the building blocks of   protein) which is made in the body by the liver and kidneys, and is derived   from the diet through meat and animal products. Creatine (creatine   monohydrate) is a colorless, crystalline substance used in muscle tissue for   the production of phosphocreatine, an important factor in the formation of   adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the source of energy for muscle contraction and   many other functions in the body.

What does creatine normally do in the body?

In the body, creatine is changed into a molecule called   “phosphocreatine” which serves as a storage reservoir for quick   energy. Phosphocreatine is especially important in tissues such as the   voluntary muscles and the nervous system which periodically require large   amounts of energy.

Why do athletes take creatine?

Studies have shown that creatine can increase the performance of   athletes in activities that require quick bursts of energy, such as   sprinting, and can help athletes to recover faster after expending bursts of   energy. Creatine is best for the serious bodybuilder. It helps increase   muscle mass, rather than muscle endurance, so it’s not well suited for   athletes participating in endurance activities. However, the increase in   muscle mass may be due to water retention and not an increase in muscle   tissue.

Why have I been hearing so much about creatine and neuromuscular   disorders?

Two scientific studies have indicated that creatine may be beneficial   for neuromuscular disorders. First, a study by MDA-funded researcher M. Flint   Beal of Cornell University Medical Center demonstrated that creatine was   twice as effective as the prescription drug riluzole in extending the lives   of mice with the degenerative neural disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis   (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Second, a study by Canadian researchers Mark   Tarnopolsky and Joan Martin of McMaster University Medical Center in Ontario found   that creatine can cause modest increases in strength in people with a variety   of neuromuscular disorders. Beal’s work was published in the March 1999 issue   of Nature Neuroscience and the second paper was published in the March 1999   issue of Neurology.

I want to start taking creatine – is it safe?

For the most part, athletes haven’t experienced adverse side-effects   from taking creatine, although recently there have been a few reports of   kidney damage linked to creatine usage. No consistent toxicity has been   reported in studies of creatine supplementation. Dehydration has also been   reported to be a problem while taking creatine.

Athletes generally take a “loading dose” of 20 grams of   creatine a day for five or six days, then continue with a “maintenance   dose” of 2 to 5 grams of creatine a day thereafter.

What are the side effects?

Little is known about long-term side effects of creatine, but no   consistent toxicity has been reported in studies of creatine supplementation.   In a study of side effects of creatine, diarrhea was the most commonly   reported adverse effect of creatine supplementation, followed by muscle   cramping. 18 Some reports showed that kidney, liver, and blood functions were   not affected by short-term higher amounts or long-term lower amounts of   creatine supplementation in healthy young adults. In a small study of people   taking 5–30 grams per day, no change in kidney function appeared after up to   five years of supplementation. Muscle cramping after creatine supplementation   has been anecdotally reported in some studies.


  • increases athletic performance
  • increases muscle mass
  • beneficial for muscular disorders


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