With creatine being a popular supplement among athletes and gym-goers, it's natural to wonder if it is beneficial to health.
For that, you first have to understand what creatine is, how it works, and if it's safe to consume or not.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid derivative produced by vertebrate animals and found in muscle cells. It's a substance the body makes after consuming protein.
Proteins found in red meat and fish contain creatine naturally, but you'd need to eat almost inhuman amounts of each to reach the level available in most creatine supplements.
How Can Creatine Help You Build More Muscle?
The muscles can convert creatine into a compound called creatine phosphate, which the body uses to generate a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which gives you energy for explosive exercise.
You would have to consume an enormous amount of protein to ingest a sufficient amount of creatine. Supplement manufacturers have made creatine intake more efficient by packaging it in powdered, liquid, or pill form.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that creatine should be used in conjunction with protein, not as a substitute for it. That's because creatine and protein work differently: Creatine helps you build strength during your workout, while protein helps you build muscle after your workout.
Myths about Creatine
Here's a look at five myths about creatine:
#1 Women shouldn't take creatine
Creatine is another supplement that gets the "it's not for women" treatment. While studies have shown no increase in performance among female users, others have shown significant gains in muscle mass and strength.
Men and women gain muscle mass at the same rate when they take creatine. Men generally have more muscle mass than women, so a greater amount of intracellular water is retained in men when they take creatine. Regardless of gender, you will see improved performance if you take creatine supplement.
#2 Creatine is not exclusively for athletes
Creatine has traditionally been used by athletes to improve performance, but it can also be used by non-athletes to increase lean body mass. To do so, you must improve performance and build muscle at the same time. Creatine helps you do both by increasing your energy.
#3 Creatine is an anabolic steroid
It's good to know that the myth about creatine being an anabolic steroid is not very widespread, but it does come up from time to time.
The truth is that creatine is not a steroid, nor does it act like one in any way. It doesn't have anything in common with steroids structurally or functionally — it's more like a vitamin or mineral than steroid.
#4 Expensive forms of creatine are better
In general, the more expensive an item or service is, the better quality it tends to be but not always. Some companies sell creatine that's of poor quality and doesn't work as well as advertised.
There are no large studies to support any of these claims. Until other studies have been conducted, this will remain a contentious issue.
#5 Creatine & Hair Loss
A common perception about creatine supplementation is that it may lead to hair loss, but this belief stems from one study that showed a link between creatine and DHT. You can reduce your risk of hair loss by avoiding creatine if you have fair follicles sensitive to DHT.
This type of hair loss is called androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness if you're male and female pattern hair loss if you're female. However, the study did not observe any hair loss among its participants.
Taking creatine can be safe for most people who are otherwise healthy. Creatine is a popular supplement and works to build up muscles. There may be side effects with excessive supplementation, but there are numerous safety measures and warnings available to prevent any dangerous issues from occurring.
If you're curious about what creatine might do for your body, check with your doctor. You may notice that the gross taste is diminished by mixing it with a more pleasant beverage, which helps make it more appealing to take regularly.