Creatine supplements are often touted as a great way to boost muscle mass and strength. They also seem to be a good choice for those who want to lose weight. Is this true?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in meat, fish, eggs, milk, and other foods. It helps build muscles and improve athletic performance.
While some studies suggest that taking creatine before or during exercise might increase muscular endurance, others say that it has no effect at all. There is little evidence that using creatine alone can cause significant weight loss.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is an organic compound made up of three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine. In the body, creatine is used by cells to make energy.
How Does Creatine Work?
When we lift weights, our muscles contract. This causes the release of calcium ions into the muscle cell. The calcium ions bind with phosphate groups on the outside surface of the muscle cell membrane. These complexes then move across the membrane and into the cytoplasm where they form ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is stored inside the cell.
When we exercise, the amount of ATP available to power our muscles decreases. That’s why we need to replenish the stores of ATP when we’re working out.
In order to do so, the body breaks down creatine to get more ATP. When the body uses creatine, it converts it to phosphocreatine, which is like a reserve supply of ATP. Phosphocreatine is stored in the muscle cells and can be quickly converted back to ATP.
The more we work out, the faster we convert creatine to phosphocreatine. And the more phosphocreatine there is, the better able we are to produce ATP.
So if you take creatine supplements, your body will have more creatine available to break down into phosphocreatine. This means that you’ll have more ATP available to fuel your muscles.
Can You Lose Weight Using Creatine?
The short answer is yes. Studies show that people who use creatine supplements tend to gain less fat than those who don’t. However, creatine doesn’t appear to help you burn extra calories.
A study published in 2003 looked at whether creatine could help people lose weight. Researchers gave either 100 grams of creatine or a placebo to men and women between the ages of 18 and 35. Both groups were told to eat about 1,500 calories per day.
After six weeks, both groups had lost similar amounts of weight. But while the group that took creatine had maintained their lean body mass, the group that didn’t take creatine had actually gained weight.
Another study from 2005 showed that people who took creatine supplements over eight weeks tended to maintain their body mass index (BMI). Their BMI was calculated by dividing their weight by their height squared. A normal BMI falls between 20 and 25.
People who take creatine supplements also tend to have lower BMIs than those who don’t. So even though they may not lose any weight, they still look slimmer because their BMI is lower.
However, this study did find that people who took creatine lost slightly more fat than those who didn’t. They also had higher levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
Are there health benefits to taking creatine?
Yes! People who take creatine supplements tend to have lower BMI’s than those who don’t take creatine.
And since creatine helps build muscle, it might help prevent osteoporosis as well.
What Are Some Side Effects of Taking Creatine Supplements?
If you decide to try creatine, you should know that it has some side effects.
Some people experience mild cramping after taking creatine. If you feel this way, stop using creatine immediately. It may be related to dehydration.
Some people also report feeling bloated after taking creatine. Again, if you notice this effect, stop taking creatine until you’ve talked to your doctor.
Creatine can cause an increase in uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product that comes from protein breakdown. Too much uric acid can lead to gout, which causes pain and swelling in joints.
Creatine can also cause diarrhea. This problem occurs when too much creatine gets absorbed through the intestine. The excess creatine then moves on to the liver where it’s broken down.
This process releases ammonia, which irritates the colon lining. As a result, you may experience loose stools.
How much Creatine Should I Take?
You should start with 5-10 grams of creatine three times daily. After one week, you can increase your dosage to 10 grams three times daily.
How Long Does Creatine Stay In Your System?
Once you finish taking creatine, it stays in your system for up to 24 hours. That’s why you need to space out your doses throughout the day.
In addition, once you finish taking creatine, your muscles will continue to break down proteins into amino acids. These amino acids are used to make new muscle tissue.
So even though you’re finished taking creatine, your muscles won’t stop breaking down proteins.
Different Types Of Creatine
There are two types of creatine: natural and synthetic. Natural creatine is found in foods like meat, fish and dairy products.
Synthetic creatine is made in labs. It’s usually sold as a powder or tablet form. You can buy these at drugstores.
What Foods Are High In Creatine?
Beef, chicken and pork contain about 2 mg of creatine per 100 grams.
Fish contains about 3.5 mg of creatine per 100 grams.
Milk contains about 6 mg of creatine per 100 ml.
Eggs contain about 7 mg of creatine per 100 gm.
Cereal grains such as oats and wheat contain about 8 mg of creatine per 100g.
Fruits like apples and bananas contain about 9 mg of creatine per 100gm.
Vegetables like broccoli and spinach contain about 12 mg of creatine per 100gram.
What Foods Contain Low Levels Of Creatine?
Most fruits and vegetables do not contain any creatine at all. However, they do contain other nutrients that work together with creatine to boost its effectiveness.
For example, vitamins work with creatine to help build more muscle mass. Vitamin B6 helps keep creatine in your body longer. And zinc aids in the absorption of creatine.
Creatine Safe For Women?
Women who take birth control pills shouldn’t take creatine because it could interfere with their hormones.
It’s best to avoid creatine if you have kidney disease or heart problems. Also, don’t take creatine if you’re pregnant.
If you have high levels of creatinine in your urine, talk to your doctor before starting creatine. He’ll check your kidneys’ function.
Creatine supplements aren’t magic bullets for building bigger muscles. They can be effective, but only if you follow the directions carefully.
They’re safe to use, but there are some potential side effects. If you decide to try them, make sure you read the label closely and ask questions before using them.
The bottom line is this: if you want to build bigger muscles, you need to eat enough protein and carbs every day.