What’s the most popular bodybuilding supplement on the market after protein powder?
You guessed it…
Not only is it one of the largest revenue makers for the supplement market, but it’s also one of the most heavily researched muscle building supplements.
Studies on creatine and its effects have been going on since its rise to stardom after many athletes used the supplement in the 1992 Olympic Games.
Since then, world-class athletes to your average gym-goer have been using creatine as a source to help increase their physical performance and get stronger.
Many critics have denounced the use of creatine, claiming it can increase your risk of cancer and is not effective or necessary.
But the truth is, creatine will help you, even for you vegans!
What is creatine?
Creatine was first discovered by a French man by the name of Michel Eugene Chevruel, who extracted the substance from animal meat. It shares very similar characteristics with amino acids.
Turns out creatine is already naturally found in the muscle cells of your body. It helps increase the amount of energy produced by your muscles during physical exercises.
That’s why studies show that taking between 3-5 grams of supplemental creatine daily will improve athletic performance and strength.
In the U.S. creatine wasn’t made available to the general public until the 1990’s. From there, creatine has been the epicenter for gym-goers and athletes everywhere.
How does creatine help athletes?
Just 5 grams of creatine taken daily has been shown to improve athletic performance.
Weightlifters lift more weight, sprinters run harder, and basketball players jump higher. Creatine gives athletes that little extra power needed to take it to the next level.
So how does this factor into your weight training?
Creatine helps you pump out an extra rep or hit that new PR you’ve been struggling for the past couple weeks.
It works by increasing your body’s production of ATP cells. If you don’t know what ATP is, it’s the most basic form of energy in your cells. It helps give your muscles great bursts of energy, especially at times of exhaustion and fatigue.
But as we workout, our ATP levels run low due to crazy effort and work outputs. Creatine helps restore ATP levels during high-intensity exercise and gets us back to lifting more weight and giving it our all.
But more than just boosting our energy levels, creatine can increase our body’s ability to build muscle and gain strength. It’s shown that “creatine promotes gains in lean body mass when used in resistance training, to enhance power and strength, and to improve performance in intense exercise, especially during repeated bouts.”
Is creatine safe? What are the side effects?
Yes, creatine is very safe.
The effects of creatine have widely been studied, and there seems to be no high risks/danger associated if done in safe amounts.
The only side effect that you may receive from creatine is what is known as water retention.
This is because your muscles need more liquid to help multiply and increase in volume. This side effect is often temporary and usually subsides within the first few weeks of supplementing with creatine.
Due to water retention, people have stated they feel bloated, crampy, and puffy. And while this may certainly be true due to your muscles retaining more water, it’s nothing to be worried about.
A lot of people have been lead to believe that creatine needs to be cycled.
Cycling is for individuals who take steroids. When you take steroids, your body, especially organs, receive a lot of damage.
So to help recuperate and alleviate the negative effects of steroids bodybuilders and athletes will go off-cycle. But for creatine (which is not a steroid) you won’t have cycle or worry about steroid life side effects.
Can it increase my risk of cancer?
Some individuals have claimed creatine is unsafe and pointed at a study which found that taking bodybuilding supplements such as creatine can increase the risk of testicular cancer in men.
But the study also pointed at that “Pure creatine when taken the right way and under medical supervision shouldn’t increase the risk for testicular cancer, but it’s up to you whether you decide to supplement it or not. And of course, always take your doctor’s advice.”
Remember taking any more than 5g of creatine a day is unnecessary. It is safe as long as you take it correctly, which applies to many aspects of life.
Don’t go crazy and you’ll get all the benefits with no negatives.
Creatine WILL NOT increase your risk of cancer, as long as you supplement properly!
Isn’t creatine naturally found in meat?
Animal-based sources all naturally contain creatine.
Creatine is located in the muscles of animals, just like us humans. When people consume animal flesh or muscle, the body takes in the creatine from the food source.
You can get about 3g of creatine just by consuming 1 pound of herring or 1.5 pounds of beef. That’s enough to get your daily supplemental value. Of course, eating 1-2 pounds of meat a day is a lot for most people.
Consuming creatine in the form of powder is the easiest way to go.
Are there plant-based food sources that contain creatine?
Unfortunately, there are no plant-based foods that contain any creatine.
Fruits and vegetables contain trace amounts of the compound. If you wish to get any creatine on a plant-based diet, you’re going to need to take it from a supplement.
Is creatine vegan? How is it made?
Creatine is 100% vegan.
Unlike many BCAA supplements which are made from human hair, feathers, and animal skin, creatine is made in a laboratory.
Creatine is made in a lab by combining multiple organic catalyst compounds like sarcosine and cyanamide.
Once the two are combined, the compounds are heated and pressurized in a special reaction chamber to form creatine crystals.
After the creatine is made, it is ground into a super fine powder so that it will easily dissolve in water or liquid. And there you have your official creatine muscle building supplement.