Creatine: What Is It, Uses, Benefits, Side Effects And More

Medically reviewed by Maria Sarino, MD FACT CHECKED

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that is used to improve athletic performance. It is not only safe, but it is also one of the most effective and popular muscle-building supplements on the market.

Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that aids in the energy delivery to cells throughout the body, especially muscle cells.

It is found naturally in fish and red meat. It is also being produced by the body and sometimes supplemented. Here is a governmental article on the same topic.

Older folks use creatine supplements to gain muscle mass and athletes utilize creatine supplements to boost their performance.

Those with kidney difficulties use creatine supplements to cure problems caused by the body’s inability to adequately metabolize creatine.

It may delay skin aging in people, improve cognitive abilities, and help persons with multiple sclerosis, according to some studies. More proof is needed to back up these claims.

In this article, we will be looking at what creatine is, its uses, benefits, side effects, and a lot more.

Creatine

Creatine is an amino acid found mostly in the brain and also in the muscles of the body. The kidneys, liver, and pancreas are capable of producing roughly 1.5 grams of creatine daily.

Creatine is primarily obtained from red meat and shellfish, however at amounts significantly lower than those seen in synthetically manufactured creatine supplements.

Creatine is mostly stored as phosphocreatine in your muscles, where it is used for energy. People use creatine orally to boost muscle mass and sports performance.

Oral creatine is also used to treat congestive heart failure, brain abnormalities, neuromuscular issues, and different ailments. The use of topical creatine to cure aged skin is also a possibility.

What Does Creatine Do?

Creatine is a popular supplement in the United States, particularly among males who compete in sports, such as wrestling, ice hockey, baseball, football, and lacrosse.

It is also the most prevalent supplement in sports nutrition products, such as sports drinks. There are claims for a variety of applications, some of which are backed up by studies.

Creatine, when combined with weight training, reduces the loss of bone mass as you age and could help to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. It is a condition in which joints become painful and stiff.

Creatine has a variety of effects on various people. In most cases, the effects of creatine should be noticeable within a week, with your strength and exercise volume improving.

Muscle fibers grow faster after resistance-based exercise and creatine supplementation, according to research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

However, it is not a cure for everyone. Creatine monohydrate supplementation is not a miracle pill that converts fat mass to muscle mass.

Creatine supplementation could help our muscles store more of the metabolite, which is linked to high-intensity activities, such as weightlifting and sprinting.

When we resynthesize at a high pace, we could exercise more easily and could even be able to have a greater intensity session with fewer rest intervals.

This may help with hypertrophy. You must, however, lift the weights. Also, larger muscles do not usually imply more strength.

It depends on what you want to achieve. If you are a middle-aged man trying to boost his power, a high-protein diet may provide you with ample creatine.

If you are an athlete or bodybuilder trying to improve your physique or performance in high-intensity workouts or competitions, creatine supplementation could be a good option for you.

Creatine Side Effects 

If you see any of the following symptoms of a creatine allergy, get immediate medical attention: breathing difficulties, hives, and swelling of the throat, tongue, face, and lips.

Stop taking creatine and contact your doctor right away if you have:

  • Breathing problems.
  • Thundering heartbeats or fluttering in your chest.
  • Seizure, fainting, dry mouth, increased thirst, high heart rate, tiredness, feeling light-headed, restless feeling, disorientation, vomiting, nausea, increased urination, muscle weakness, or soreness are indicators of an electrolyte imbalance.
  • Symptoms of dehydration include dry or hot skin, inability to urinate, extreme heat or thirst, and intense perspiration.
  • Swelling and fast weight increase.

The following are some of the most common creatine adverse effects:

  • Cramping in the muscles.
  • Stomach pains and nausea.
  • Gaining weight.
  • Diarrhea.

This is not an exhaustive list of potential adverse effects. Sometimes more could arise. For medical advice on side effects, contact your doctor.

Creatine Benefits 

Here are some of the benefits of creatine:

  • Increasing Athletic Ability

    Creatine supplements are often used by athletes as there is evidence that they are useful in high-intensity exercise.

    Creatine is often thought to help the body manufacture more energy. Athletes who have greater energy could achieve more by working harder.

    Increasing the body’s creatine pool appears to improve performance in particular types of exercise for some people.

    Creatine may increase performance involving short periods of extremely strong activity, especially during repeated bouts, according to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine in 2003.

    The researchers also went on to say that not each of the studies had found the same benefits.

  • Increased Body Mass

    Increased muscle creatine content has been linked to increased body mass. However, creatine does not develop muscle, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

    Creatine rather stimulates the muscles in storing water, which increases body mass. It is also likely that exerting harder during exercise increases muscle mass.

    According to one assessment from 2003, the improvements in body weight seen are largely related to water retention during supplementation.

  • Parkinson’s Disease

    Creatine was able to prevent the loss of cells which are generally impacted by Parkinson’s disease in animal models.

    An animal study using a combination of creatine and coenzyme found that it could help treat neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

    Treatment with creatine monohydrate for at least 3 years, compared to placebo, did not improve clinical outcomes, according to a study published in JAMA with over 1500 human participants.

    Similarly, according to a systematic analysis published in Cochrane, there is no good evidence for the use of creatine in Parkinson’s disease.

  • After-Injury Damage Repair

    According to research, taking creatine supplements could speed up an athlete’s recuperation after an accident and help them avoid muscle damage.

    After a strong bout of resistance exercise, creatine could help in preventing cramps and may have an antioxidant impact. It may also help with brain and different injury therapies.

Is Creatine Bad For You?

Creatine is used to improve sports performance and build muscle mass. According to the US National Library of Medicine, it is also used to treat creatine deficiency syndrome.

These creatine deficiency syndromes could cause schizophrenia, depression, congestive heart failure, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dehydration, kidney damage, and weight gain are certain risks associated with creatine. Convulsions, diarrhea, and nausea are some of the more negative effects of creatine.

Although your body produces creatine naturally, taking additional supplements of creatine appears to be safe. However, keep in mind that nutritional supplements are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Store-bought creatine supplements could differ in terms of creatine supplement quality, quantity, and certain substances. There are no purity or safety requirements in place.

How Much Creatine Should I Take?

Creatine is a treatment that has yet to be demonstrated. There is no standard dosage. In research, a variety of creatine supplement dosages have been used.

Some people begin with 15 to 25 mg of creatine per day to improve athletic performance. After that, a daily maintenance dose of 3 to 6 grams of creatine is usually given.

When To Take Creatine?

Creatine is an effective and safe supplement. The debate is when to take it. During workout days, researchers suggest that consuming creatine after or before exercising is preferred over consuming it later.

Creatine For Men

Creatine in men is often thought in assisting muscles to recover faster while exercising. It also promotes lean muscle mass and strength.

This muscular mass could help athletes to achieve bursts of energy and speed, particularly during high-intensity sports, such as sprinting or weightlifting.

Scientific study on creatine has been equivocal. Although some studies have revealed that creatine could help with short-term athletic performance, there is little evidence that it could help with endurance sports.

Creatine does not work for everyone’s muscles, according to research, and some people who use it do not perceive any benefits.

Despite the popularity of creatine among teenagers, relatively little research has been done on children under the age of 16. A few of the research have found a favorable effect, but the evidence is inconclusive.

High school soccer players improved their dribbling, jumping, and sprinting. The teenage swimmers also improved their performance after taking creatine.

Creatine For Women 

Creatine is a naturally occurring chemical in your muscles. It has been demonstrated to boost anaerobic exercise ability, power, strength, and muscle mass. It may also aid in exercise recovery.

Creatine supplements have been associated with post- and pre-menopause gains in muscle mass, strength, and athletic performance in women.

Furthermore, preliminary evidence suggests that using creatine supplements could have benefits for women outside of the gym, such as aiding depression management and mental tiredness.

Creatine HCL and creatine ethyl ester are two types of creatine supplements that are effective for women.

Conclusion

Creatine is one of the safest, most affordable, and most effective supplements on the market. Hundreds of studies back up the usefulness and safety of creatine, which has been used for over a century.

It also has numerous benefits for muscles and the potential to improve health markers. It is being used in medical settings to treat a variety of ailments.

At the end of the day, creatine is a potent substance that improves overall health as well as athletic performance.

It has the potential to speed up muscular growth, combat neurological illnesses, increase brain function, and improve exercise performance. To determine if this natural chemical works for you, try adding it to your supplement program.