Creatine is one of the most popular and effective supplements for enhancing athletic performance, muscle growth, and brain function.
It is a natural substance produced by the body and found in some foods, such as meat and fish. It helps the body create energy for muscle contractions, especially during high-intensity exercise.
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Importance of Creatine
- Improving strength, power, and speed
- Reducing body fat while building lean muscle
- Enhancing recovery and reducing muscle damage
- Supporting cognitive function and brain health
- Fighting certain neurological diseases and aging-related decline
- Preventing dehydration, cramping, and injuries
Let’s explore the importance of creatine and address people’s common questions and concerns about this supplement. We will also provide practical tips and recommendations on using creatine safely and effectively.
Importance of Creatine Supplement
Creatine supplementation can increase strength by 5–15%, power by 5–20%, and speed by 1–5%. These improvements can translate into more significant gains in muscle mass and performance over time.
Creatine can also enhance recovery and reduce muscle damage by decreasing inflammation, oxidative stress, and muscle soreness.
To harness the power of creatine, you need to take it consistently and at an appropriate dose. The recommended dose is 3–5 grams daily for most people, although some may benefit from higher or lower amounts depending on their body weight, muscle mass, activity level, and diet.
Is Creatine a Steroid?
Despite its popularity and effectiveness, some sources often misunderstand and misrepresent creatine. Here are some of the common myths and facts about creatine:
Myth: Creatine causes kidney damage or dehydration
Fact: Creatine is safe for healthy people and does not harm the kidneys or cause dehydration
Creatine is metabolized into creatinine, a waste product excreted by the kidneys. Creatinine is a waste product of muscle metabolism excreted by the kidneys. High creatinine levels do not necessarily indicate kidney damage.
Creatine supplementation is safe for healthy adults and does not cause kidney damage or dehydration. However, people with pre-existing kidney problems should consult their doctor before taking creatine.
Myth: Creatine is a steroid or a banned substance
Fact: Creatine is a natural substance that is not related to steroids or prohibited by sports organizations
Creatine is often confused with anabolic steroids, which are synthetic hormones that mimic testosterone and can have serious side effects. However, creatine has nothing to do with steroids or hormones. Creatine is found in our bodies and in foods like fish and meat. It does not affect your hormone levels or interfere with your endocrine system.
Myth: Creatine needs to be loaded or cycled
Fact: Creatine does not need to be loaded or cycled for most people
Loading is taking a high dose of creatine (20–25 grams per day) for a short period (5–7 days) to maximize your muscle creatine stores. Cycling is taking creatine for a certain period (usually 4–12 weeks) and then stopping for another period (usually 2–4 weeks) to prevent your body from adapting to creatine.
Loading can speed up the initial increase in muscle creatine levels but does not affect the long-term benefits of creatine supplementation. Cycling can prevent your muscle creatine levels from dropping, but it does not enhance the effects of creatine supplementation.
The best way to take creatine is to take a consistent and moderate dose (3–5 grams per day), thus ensuring that your muscles are constantly saturated with creatine and you get the optimal benefits.
Intermittent Fasting and Creatine
Some people who practice intermittent fasting wonder if taking creatine will break their fast or interfere with their fasting goals. The answer is:
- No, creatine does not break a fast. Creatine does not contain any calories or macronutrients that would trigger an insulin response or affect the metabolic state of fasting. Creatine can be taken during fasting without breaking the fast.
- Yes, creatine can benefit fasting. Creatine helps maintain muscle strength and energy during fasting by replenishing ATP levels, which allows the body to maintain high-intensity activities without breaking down muscle tissue.
Does Creatine Make You Pee?
- No, creatine does not have a diuretic effect or cause dehydration. Creatine does not affect your kidney function or urine output in healthy people who take it as directed. Creatine does not cause you to lose more water than usual.
- Yes, creatine can make you pee more for other reasons. Creatine can increase your fluid intake, as you may drink more water when taking creatine to dissolve it or prevent cramps. Creatine can also increase your muscle mass, water needs, and thirst. These factors can make you pee more when taking creatine but do not indicate dehydration or diuresis.
However, you should still monitor your hydration status and drink enough water when taking creatine to avoid dehydration or cramps.
Dry Scoop Creatine
Dry scooping creatine is not recommended for several reasons:
- It does not improve the absorption or effectiveness of creatine. Whether you take it dry or dissolved in liquid, it will have the same effect on your muscles and performance.
- It can cause choking, coughing, or breathing problems. Creatine powder is fine and quickly gets stuck in your throat or lungs if inhaled accidentally.
- It can damage your teeth and gums. Creatine powder is acidic and abrasive and may cause tooth enamel erosion and gum irritation if you expose them to it regularly.
- It can waste your creatine and money. Creatine powder is not soluble and can stick to your mouth, teeth, tongue, or cheeks if you take it dry.
Therefore, the best way to take creatine is to mix it with water or another liquid and drink it before or after your workout.
Can You Bring Creatine on a Plane?
The good news is that bringing creatine on a plane is not a problem as long as you follow some simple rules and tips:
- Creatine is legal to take on a plane as long as it is legal in your departing and arriving country. Creatine is not classified as a banned substance by any significant sports or health governing bodies, such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), or the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
- Creatine is allowed in both hand luggage and checked baggage.
- The best way to pack creatine for flying is to put it in a transparent Ziplock bag or a sealed container to prevent spillage or leakage.
Taking Creatine on an Empty Stomach
- Taking creatine on an empty stomach does not improve its absorption or effectiveness. Creatine absorption depends not on stomach acidity or emptiness but on intestinal transporters carrying creatine into the bloodstream.
- Taking creatine on an empty stomach can have some advantages, such as reducing the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating, cramping, nausea, or diarrhea, that some people may experience when taking creatine with food.
Therefore, you can take it on an empty stomach or with a light snack to optimize your creatine absorption. However, you should not take it on an empty stomach if you have a sensitive stomach or a history of stomach ulcers or gastritis.
Combating Creatine Constipation
Constipation can occur when taking creatine for several reasons, such as:
- Creatine can draw water into the muscles, reducing the stool’s water content and making it harder and drier.
- Creatine can increase muscle mass, increasing the pressure on the abdominal cavity and the colon and making it harder to pass stool.
- Creatine can interfere with the normal intestinal flora, affecting the stool’s digestion and motility.
Constipation can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, but it can also be prevented and treated by following some simple tips, such as:
- Drink enough water or other fluids.
- Eat more fiber.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can stimulate your intestinal muscles and improve your bowel movements.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily to strengthen your core and relieve pressure on your colon.
By following these tips, you can combat creatine-induced constipation and enjoy the benefits of creatine supplementation without discomfort.
Creatine Monohydrate Gummies
Creatine monohydrate gummies are chewable candies that contain creatine monohydrate in each serving. They are usually flavored with natural fruit juices or extracts and sweetened with natural sugars or sugar alcohols.
Creatine monohydrate gummies have several advantages over creatine powder, such as:
- They are more convenient and portable.
- They are more palatable and enjoyable.
- They are more effective and bioavailable. Creatine gummies dissolve quickly in your mouth and are absorbed faster by your body.
Therefore, if you want to try a new and exciting way to take creatine monohydrate, give creatine gummies a try. They are convenient, tasty, and effective, and they can help you achieve fitness goals faster.
What Does Creatine Taste Like?
The taste of creatine can vary depending on the type, quality, and purity of the supplement you use. For example:
- It has a mild bitter or sour taste that is barely noticeable when mixed with enough liquid.
- Creatine hydrochloride (HCL) is a newer form that claims to be more soluble and bioavailable but has a more pungent bitter or sour taste than creatine monohydrate.
- Creatine ethyl ester (CEE) is another form of creatine with a very strong bitter or sour taste that most people find unpleasant or hard to swallow.
If you don’t like the taste of creatine powder, you have several options to make it more palatable and enjoyable, such as:
- Mixing it with a flavored beverage can mask the taste and make it easier to drink. However, avoid mixing it with acidic beverages, such as juice or soda, as they may degrade creatine over time.
- Add some sweetener, such as sugar, honey, stevia, or erythritol.
- Taking it in a different form, such as capsules, tablets, gummies, or liquid. These forms of creatine do not have any taste and are easier to swallow than powder.
Impact of Creatine Supplementation
Creatine supplementation can significantly impact your strength, muscle mass, and performance in as little as one month. However, one-month creatine results may vary depending on several factors, such as:
- Baseline muscle creatine levels: If you have low muscle creatine levels due to diet, genetics, or training status, you may experience more significant improvements.
- Training program: A high-intensity resistance training program involving multiple low repetitions with heavy weights may benefit more from creatine supplementation.
- Diet and hydration status: If your protein and carbs intake is sufficient to support muscle growth and recovery and you drink enough water, you may see enhanced effects of creatine supplementation.
According to research, here are some of the possible effects of one month of creatine supplementation on different aspects of fitness:
- Strength: Creatine supplementation can increase strength by 5–15%, depending on the exercise and muscle group tested.
- Muscle mass: Creatine supplementation can increase muscle mass by 2–4 pounds, depending on the individual’s body weight and muscle mass.
- Performance: Creatine supplementation can improve performance by 5–20%, depending on the type and intensity of the activity.
You must train hard, eat well, and rest well to achieve your goals.
Dangers of Creatine
Some of the possible contaminants or additives that may be found in creatine supplements are:
- Dicyandiamide (DCD): A by-product of creatine synthesis that can cause kidney damage or cancer in high doses.
- Creatinine: A waste product of creatine metabolism that can cause kidney damage or failure in high doses.
- Sodium: A mineral that can cause water retention or high blood pressure in high doses.
- Sugar: A carbohydrate that can cause weight gain or diabetes in high doses.
- Artificial flavors or colors: Chemicals that can cause some people allergic reactions or health problems.
Choose a clean creatine supplement free of impurities or unnecessary ingredients to avoid these contaminants or additives.
Some of the benefits of clean creatine supplements are:
- More effective and bioavailable: Clean creatine supplements have a higher percentage of active creatine per serving, providing more creatine for your money.
- Safer and healthier: Clean creatine supplements do not contain any harmful substances that may damage your kidneys, liver, heart, or other organs. Nor do they have any unnecessary calories, sodium, sugar, or chemicals.
- Convenient and palatable: Clean creatine supplements are easier to mix and dissolve and have a neutral or mild taste that is easy to drink or mask with other beverages.
Therefore, if you want to get the best results from your creatine supplementation, opt for a clean, pure, pristine supplement.
Creatine while Breastfeeding
Some of the possible risks or benefits of taking creatine while breastfeeding are:
- Creatine may pass into breast milk and affect the infant’s growth, development, or health.
- It may interfere with the mother’s milk production, composition, or quality.
- It may cause side effects in the mother, such as dehydration, cramping, bloating, or nausea.
- Creatine may enhance the mother’s strength, muscle mass, and performance during exercise.
- It may improve the mother’s cognitive function and brain health.
- It may support the infant’s growth, development, and health by providing extra energy and nutrients.
However, these risks or benefits are based on theoretical assumptions or animal studies, as there are no human studies on the effects of creatine supplementation during breastfeeding. Therefore, there is no conclusive evidence to recommend or discourage using creatine while breastfeeding.
The best advice for breastfeeding mothers who want to take creatine is to consult their doctor before taking any supplement.
Does Creatine Dissolve in Water?
- No, creatine does not indeed dissolve in water. Creatine is a hydrophobic substance that repels water and does not form a proper solution.
- Yes, creatine can still be absorbed and is effective even if it does not dissolve in water.
Therefore, if you see some creatine powder at the bottom of your glass or shaker, you don’t need to worry about it. Drink it as fast as possible to avoid wasting creatine or reducing its potency.
Does Creatine Make You Hungry?
Some of the possible reasons why creatine can affect your appetite or hunger are:
- Creatine can increase your muscle mass, metabolic rate, and energy expenditure. It can make you burn more calories and hungrier than usual.
- Creatine can increase your water intake, filling your stomach and making you feel fuller than usual. It can make you eat fewer calories and feel less hungry than usual.
- Creatine can affect your hormone levels, such as insulin, leptin, ghrelin, or cortisol. Creatine can either increase or decrease these hormones depending on various factors, such as the type of creatine, the dose of creatine, the timing of creatine intake, and the presence of food or other substances in the stomach.
Therefore, creatine can affect your appetite or hunger differently depending on your situation and response to creatine supplementation. However, these effects are usually mild and temporary.
Mixing Creatine with Protein
- They enhance each other’s absorption and utilization. Creatine and protein can increase each other’s transport across the intestinal membrane into the bloodstream by stimulating insulin secretion.
- They stimulate muscle protein synthesis and inhibit muscle protein breakdown. Creatine and protein can activate signaling pathways that promote muscle growth and prevent loss.
- They improve exercise performance and recovery. Creatine and protein can enhance each other’s effects on exercise performance and healing by providing more energy for muscle contractions and more amino acids for muscle repair. It can lead to more significant gains in strength, power, speed, endurance, muscle mass, and performance over time.
Therefore, mixing creatine with protein can be a great strategy to maximize your muscle and strength gains.
In conclusion, creatine is a valuable supplement for improving athletic performance, muscle growth, and cognitive function. The benefits of creatine include increased strength, reduced body fat, improved recovery, and prevention of certain neurological conditions. Addressing common misconceptions, taking creatine consistently and at appropriate doses is crucial. Additionally, individuals can enhance their experience by exploring various forms and mixing creatine with protein for optimal gains. Understanding and utilizing creatine safely can lead to more energy, longer workouts, and better overall fitness outcomes.
What are the benefits of taking creatine?
Taking creatine supplements has been shown to have several benefits, including:
1. Improved exercise performance
2. Increased muscle mass
3. Improved brain function
4. Reduced risk of muscle injuries
5. Improved hydration
Creatine is generally safe to take, even for long periods.
Is creatine necessary to build muscle?
Creatine is not necessary to build muscle. You can build muscle naturally, without taking any supplements, by following a progressive resistance training program and eating a healthy diet. However, creatine can help you to build muscle more quickly and efficiently.
When combined with resistance training, Creatine supplementation significantly increases muscle mass and strength compared to resistance training alone.
Creatine supplementation helps athletes to recover more quickly from high-intensity exercise, which allows them to train more often and with greater intensity.
Is it important to take creatine daily?
Yes, it is important to take creatine daily if you want to reap the full benefits of the supplement.