Creatine Myths - BUSTED!

February 02, 2022 5 min read

Creatine is one of the most popular sports supplements on the market.  Gym goers and athletes alike use it almost daily.

However, many people do not understand how creatine works. Most hear conflicting information or see marketing by companies that cause you to want to steer clear of using creatine. I want to go over some of the things you’ve heard and show you that they are all myths as well while highlighting the facts about creatine so that you know how this supplement affects your performance, gains, and progress.

Creatine is often given a bad reputation because others don’t understand what it CAN do. It doesn’t surprise me that even with research people continue to make up myths about creatine that scare others away from one of the most effective supplements around.

Creatine causes weight gain.

Well, this is sort of true, this is a good thing to those wanting to put on some bulk. Most of this weight is due to water retention in your muscles in the beginning of supplementing with creatine. But, the way creatine works is it actually helps you push harder when you're lifting weights, which leads to a gain in muscle mass. If you’re wanting to benefit from creatine without ANY weight gain like endurance athletes, you can cut your daily dose in half. Doing this will increase power since it hydrates your muscles and improve your performance.

Creatine upsets your stomach.

Yes and No.  There is some truth to this, an upset stomach a side effect seen only in a small percentage of users, They often complain of diarrhea or a stomachache.  If you are prone to GI issues I recommend that you start with a smaller dose allowing your body to adapt.

Creatine damages your kidneys.

There are no studies showing creatine causes kidney damage in healthy people. In fact, there are several studies that have shown that taking creatine has no adverse effects on kidney function or the way your kidneys filter blood. There are, however, studies that show many people taking over 10 grams of creatine a day for over 5 years and at there were no harmful effects on kidney or liver function in these people. Creatine, is extremely safe, to use. It’s found in many of the foods you eat daily.

You lose muscle when you stop using it

While your muscles may look smaller when you stop using it, that is only because creatine adds water in your muscles to keep them hydrated. You will however maintain the strength and lean muscle mass that you gained from being able to push harder in every workout. As long as you continue to lift, you will keep it.  Creatine can make you look softer. That is why bodybuilders cut out creatine a few weeks before a competition. Creatine will eventually cause water to flow into the muscles, and that extra water increases the volume of your muscles. When you go off creatine, you aren’t losing muscle mass you are just seeing your dry muscle mass that you were able to build while having that extra water in them.

All the creatine you need you can get from food

Sure, you can get creatine from some foods, especially animal proteins like beef, but the amount you get from foods isn’t nearly enough to help you get the benefits of creatine. The body naturally keeps about 100 grams of creatine stored throughout it. Only a few grams of creatine are used during your day and only half of those grams your body can synthesize from food

To maintain that 100 grams of creatine, you would need over 500 grams to come from meat and fish. Since 1 pound of beef has only 1 gram of creatine, we all know you could never eat that much protein in a day and that is where creatine supplementing comes in.

Creatine won’t work unless you load it at first

No, you do not need to load creatine. Studies have proven that 5-10g daily, or even smaller amounts (2-3g) show benefits of using daily creatine. This is called 'Just taking creatine'. While creatine loading will cause faster saturation of your muscles it will also cause a greater increase of water retention under the skin at first and then it will move to your muscles. Many like doing this because in the mirror and on the scale, they believe they’ve already “gained” that muscle they’re looking for. Taking a smaller dose for a longer period will allow you to reach the same point but will take a few weeks. Doing the latter means the differences at the end of a cycle, if you choose to come off creatine will be much more minimal.

Women shouldn’t use it

Creatine makes you bulky
Creatine will bloat you.

I hear so many bad things about creatine that just aren't true. Creatine has been one of the most researched supplements out there. It's very safe and is in no way a drug. As I’ve already stated, your body makes creatine, and it can be found in meat and fish.

Creatine will not make you bulk up (remember I said how difficult that was to do? It will take more than just taking Creatine to make that happen). Yes, it makes you hold more water, the water is retained inside of your muscles so you shouldn't bloat. If you are experiencing bloat, be sure to check your current nutritional plan before blaming creatine as the cause.

Creatine can also increase the number of calories burned during exercise, making it even more beneficial to women, as we usually have a harder time burning fat than men. Creatine has been known to increase lean body mass, which will raise your basal metabolic rate (the fat you burn throughout your normal day). 

Don't be afraid of creatine. It will increase your performance in the gym. Make sure you drink plenty of water and you will thank me later.

Creatine is a steroid.

No. Creatine isn’t even related to steroids. Creatine is an amino acid; amino acids are building blocks of protein in the body. It’s found naturally in your body and in foods, like meat and fish. You store most of your body’s creatine in your muscles as well as in your brain, liver, and kidneys.

Creatine supplies energy to the cells of your body, especially those in muscle. ATP is a molecule that your body uses for energy. Creatine increases the body’s production of ATP.  By providing increased ATP, creatine can improve workout performance.

In summary

Creatine is one of the most researched supplements in the history of dietary supplements. Things continue to point towards creatine’s effectiveness and nutritional benefits to athletes and even those just starting out in the gym. It’s time to leave these myths behind and embrace the truth: that creatine is necessary if you want to be your best in the gym.

 


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