What are the benefits and side effects of creatine?

  • 2 Minutes Read
Shelby Potter, MS, RDN, CDCES
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Creatine, the latest supplement trend, offers benefits and limited side effects; however, our bodies already produce this energy source. Do you need more than what nature gives you? Here are the details to consider if supplemental creatine is right for you.

Creatine benefits and side effects

Understanding creatine, its benefits, and side effects on the body

You don’t have to look too far for creatine. You can find it circulating right in your muscles–even your brain and other organs make smaller amounts, too. Derived from different amino acids, creatine helps the body make protein to deliver to your muscles (and brain) and powers muscles in the energy process.

A person needs about 1 to 3 grams of creatine per day, typically met by diet and the body's natural production. Research continues on the effects of creatine on different medical conditions that involve muscle and brain function and its possible benefit for the aging population in maintaining strength.

While we produce our own creatine, we can also find it in our food. Top sources include red meat (pork, beef, veal), seafood (fish and shellfish), and dairy products.

The benefits of creatine are essential to our muscles, so are supplements even necessary, and are there side effects? Read on if you want to consider this supplement for improved muscle performance during exercise.

Considerations with creatine supplements

The most common and researched supplement form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. Suggested amounts typically consist of 5 grams of creatine monohydrate per serving. Higher intakes may lead to increased water retention in the cells, which can cause undesired fluid weight gain but not in fat. Like any other supplement, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, creatine supplements may undergo third-party testing for accuracy of labeled ingredients and for sports approval. We suggest reading labels carefully when choosing a supplement of any kind.

The body can produce and rely on diet for optimal amounts of creatine, sufficient for all kinds of activities. But, if you do not consume animal-based protein, creatine supplements may be required to fill in the gaps.

Will I gain more muscle from a creatine supplement?

Your body uses creatine to fuel energy during high-intensity or weight-resistance training, for example. Increased creatine from supplements accompanied by an exercise routine may allow the body's muscles to perform at a higher capacity and duration. Essentially, the more fuel provided to muscles, the higher the capacity/duration of sustained energy in exercise. If we have more energy and less fatigue, the muscles will work harder to build more mass due to more energy support over time. With supplemented creatine, muscle cells can take on constrained muscle load and increase signaling to repair, resulting in muscle growth and potentially reducing protein breakdown in muscle.

In summary, creatine supplementation can support muscles in exercise, and bodies can gain muscle.

Will creatine help me lose weight?

Remember, body composition tells us more about the health of the weight you carry than just the number you see on the scale. When it comes to weight loss, we typically want to part ways with fat mass, not muscle mass. Creatine does not directly decrease fat mass. It can promote a change in body composition by gaining muscle mass from exercise and a healthy diet geared toward weight loss.

Creatine can be used as a weight-loss aid in concert with other tools involving dietary strategy, supporting muscle function to improve exercise performance, and promoting lean muscle development. Speak with your medical professional before starting any new supplement to determine if it is right for you.

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Exercise->Weight resistance Weight Loss->Body composition
Apr 22, 2024
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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