Creatine is one of the most widely used and effective supplements for better muscular endurance and overall strength progression. Creatine is one of the most effective supplements an athlete can take to help develop size and strength, overall increasing their abilities within their sport. Due to the many misconceptions surrounding the substance, parents and coaches sometimes fear that it could have negative effects on the body and greatly affect the athlete’s lives in the long run.
Creatine is a naturally occuring molecule produced in the body. It’s commonly found in fish, meat, and is also made by the human body. A study from Examine.com found that phosphocreatine in the body, which is then released into the body, causing the strength increase after the use of creatine as a supplement. Creatine is often considered a questionable topic as people do not know what the side effects of taking the supplement are. Now, there are a few forms of creatine known, but in this case the creatine I will be talking about is creatine monohydrate. It’s one of the cheapest forms, and the most effective. One of the major side effects from taking creatine is that it is very water retentive. Depending on the dosage, creatine makes the body retain water, in the form of weight. Almost any dosage of creatine will lead to water retention, but the severity varies on the dosage. Due to this, if the user does not drink enough water, this can lead to stomach cramps. The fact that it adds on weight might not affect athletes, as they are constantly active and will probably be burning it off anyway, however, to the normal person this weight gain may be a problem. Another plausable side effect is the fact that creatine increases DHT in the body. This DHT increase can be linked to male pattern baldness, but make note that genetics play a key role in that as well. Depression may also come as a side effect of creatine, as it relates to seratonin.
As far as athletic performance is concerned, creatine is one of the best supplements an athlete can take, next to protein. In a study from the University of Maryland, “Preliminary studies show that creatine supplements improve strength and lean muscle mass during high-intensity, short-duration exercises.” Creatine is found to be most effective in young adults, as adept lifters tend to gain muscle easier. Creatine’s strength benefits alone would make it great for football players. Over time, they would gain mass slightly better and be much stronger, fully utilizing their muscle’s potential. They would be more efficient on the field, and be much more alert. Most natural athletes will add about 5 to 10 pounds to their lifts each month with an optimal diet and training regime. Creatine can in some cases increase that rate by 5 pounds, which is astounding for a non-anabolic supplement. Athletes will need to be careful with their dosage on these supplements, as there is a good medium with creatine and shouldn’t be misused. Athletes have the option to load creatine, taking up to 20g a day, spaced out, or could just take 5-10g a day. Any more than this amount is unessessary and can lead to problems.
Creatine with its very plausible and concerning side effects, also has its health benefits. Some studies have shown that creatine can counteract fatigue, very helpful in running and other sports that are cardio-intensive. This study tends to have mixed results, so it is safe to say that it can possibly benefit runners/sprinters. It also leads to the possible spike in testosterone levels, naturally of course. This increase in testosterone will undoubtably benefit weight lifters, as it will ultimately increase strength and muscle mass. Creatine can also be used as a cure for traumatic brain injury patients, children and adolescents are shown to get reduced frequency of headaches when taking the supplement. Due to it’s stength increase and mass increasing nature, it can help treat people with diseases related to muscle weakness, like muscular dystrophy.
The main issue with creatine is deciding whether or not its plausible side effects make it unsafe for athletes. One of the biggest issues is the fact that it could possibly enhance male pattern baldness, but only in those who have the genetic issue. Weighing out all of the pros and cons of taking the supplement, creatine really is more effective than it is harmful for the user. In the case of athletes, I argue it is beneficial for them. Even though it is prohibited by the NCAA to be given to athletes, I highly recommend that they take it as it will help them in their athletic careers. By just taking 5g a day, they will become much stronger and retain lean mass, not to mention the endurance benefits. In this case, such a small dosage minimalizes any side effects, and probably will be the safest and most effective dosage. I personally have used creatine in this dosage for months, and reaped the rewards with no side effects whatsoever. It really matters what the dosage is, as the reasons behind why there are issues surrounding the supplement are due to the fact that people take such large dosages. Yes, people taking creatine are more suseptible to liver issues if 20g of creatine every day is taken. Death can also occur from eating too much sugar in life, and get issues like heart disease. It’s all about finding the proper, healthy dosage.
Examine.com, Creatine.Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://examine.com/supplements/creatine/
Creatine, University of Maryland Medical Center. (2017, January 1). Retrieved November 11, 2017, from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/creatine