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Creatine Supplements

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Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that is found in the human body. Derived from the Greek work 'kreas' which means flesh, creatine is found in abundance in red meat and fish. It is the key to building powerful skeletal muscles like huge biceps.


Creatine is stored in the muscle tissues and provides quick but short bursts of energy for any sort of intense exercise. Creatine supplements that produce creatine compounds can be used to load the muscles with more energy in order to increase the capacity to perform high intensity work for longer periods of time.


Creatine supplements are widely used to improve performance and give the winning edge in anaerobic athletic competitions.


Creatine supplements

Creatine supplements, unlike other supplements that rise and fall with current trends have stood the test of time. Creatine supplements, mainly consumed by sports persons as an aphrodisiac of energy source can be taken as power mixed into a drink; or as a capsule or caplet. One can stir creatine supplement into a liquid drink. This micronized creatine is super pulverized powder that dissolves faster and is ready for complete absorption. Chewable creatine supplements are like eating an energy bar and these supplements are available at full service gyms, workout centers and nutrition centers.


Whatever be the method of consumption, creatine is bio available, as crystalline monohydrate form, the free form in solution and even in products such as meat. It is recommended to consume creatine with high glycemic index carbohydrates or in combination with protein.


Creatine supplements in sports

Creatine is natural and there are no restrictions on its use among athletes. And so it began in the athletic arena in 1993 when a number of athletes who performed extremely well beyond expectation reported that they had used creatine supplements to augment their training regimen.


The primary use of the supplements is to impart strength and bulk building exercises. They are typical athletic aids used for athletic performance enhancement, as a source to build tremendous energy. Most of the athletes who wish to gain muscle mass consume creatine supplements. Common among the supplement forms are creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester.


Creatine supplements can help give 'bursts' of intense energy during short sessions of high intensity aerobic exercise but they have no significant effect on aerobic endurance as such. Sports that are well augmented by the use of creatine other than body building include baseball, basketball, hockey, rowing, wrestling, soccer and football.


Scientific research indicates marginal increase in athletic performance especially in high intensity anaerobic repetitive cycling sprints. As activities such as swimming and running are sustained at a given intensity, they do not allow for significant intra exercise synthesis of additional creatine phosphate molecules. It is anabolic sports that gain most from creatine ingestion, but endurance exercises are not much improved by creatine intake.


How do creatine supplements work?

Creatine supplements help maximize muscle energy by participating in the complex muscle contraction process. ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is a key fuel for muscle contraction, during repetitive exercise regimen for body building. The corollary is that the more ATP in muscle, the more high intensity energy for power body building, boosting sports like sprinting, rowing and body building.


For sustained intensity in workouts, improved power and muscle size and longer and stronger exercise regimen, probably creatine supplements should help in a big way.


Creatine supplements for women

Many women believe that intake of creatine can make them bloated and bigger and massively muscular. Creatine supplements can lead to water retention which in turn can possibly lead to acne which is particularly annoying. Short term diarrhea and stomach cramps can also trouble. However, if consumed in appropriate proportions creatine can work wonders for women as well.


Creatine as such does not create muscle mass. It only gives the much needed energy to work longer and harder. There are creatine supplements exclusively designed for women that help minimize weight gain overcoming problems of water retention. Female sports enthusiasts can well combine creatine supplements with whey protein during weight loss regimes and fitness performances.


Creatine serves to enhance performance adding lean body mass. Fine tuned doses of creatine supplements with medical advice should not cause bloating or any stomach discomfort.



Benefits of Creatine supplements

  • It is found that patients with chronic heart failure exhibit lower levels of creatine in their hearts. Creatine supplements may improve heart muscle strength, body weight and endurance in patients with heart failure.

  • Some evidence suggests the use of creatine supplements in patients undergoing coronary artery surgery. They may recover better and more rapidly after open heart surgery if intravenous creatine is used during the operation. However, larger and detailed studies are needed before such recommendations can be made.

  • Some early studies show mixed results on use of creatine for breathing disorders in infants called apnea of prematurity.

  • Creatine may increase bone density when combined with resistance training.

  • There could be potential benefit of creatine supplements in depression.

  • Creatine supplements can offer some benefit for persons with muscle cramps and complications of hemodialysis.

  • Hyperornithinemia or high levels of ornithine in the blood can occur in some individuals born with this genetic disorder. High amounts of ornithine can lead to possible blindness, muscle weakness and reduced storage of creatine in muscles and brains. Evidence suggests that long term daily use of creatine supplements can help replace missing creatine and slow vision loss.

  • Creatine has been proposed as a possible therapy for McArdle's disease caused by deficiency of energy compounds stored in muscles.


Side effects of creatine supplements


  • Some develop asthmatic symptoms with the use of creatine.

  • Signs of allergy including rash, itching or shortness of breath can develop.

  • Some individuals experience gastrointestinal symptoms, loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, diarrhea or nausea.

  • Creatine can cause muscle cramps, muscle breakdown, muscle tears and discomfort.

  • Strains and sprains due to enthusiastic increase in workout regimen on consuming creatine is common occurrence.

  • Weight gain, increase body mass can occur.

  • Heat intolerance, fever, dehydration, reduced blood volume, electrolyte imbalance are other complications of creatine intake.

  • In rare cases, interstitial nephritis in kidney may happen. It is essential that those with kidney disease should avoid creatine consumption.

  • Liver function may be altered and those with underlying liver diseases should be cautioned against use of creatine.

  • Patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia can be affected by creatine intake as creatine can alter the activities of insulin.

  • Long term administration of large quantities of creatine is reported to increase production of formaldehyde which can potentially cause several serious side effects. Compartment syndrome of lower leg associated with inflammation and ischemia that can lead to surgical emergency is one instance.

  • Other common side effects of creatine include thirst, mild headache, anxiety, irritability, aggression, nervousness, sleepiness, depression, abnormal heart rhythm, fainting or dizziness, vein thrombosis and swollen limbs.

It is therefore imperative that those taking creatine supplements should by monitored by a health care professional as medications and adjustments in dosage may be necessary from time to time.



Tips and cautions on creatine supplementation:

  • Those with pre-existing kidney problems, gastro intestinal disorders should consult the doctor before consuming any creatine supplements. If any discomfort develops during creatine cycling, it is better to immediately consult the medical professional.

  • Creatine is not recommended during pregnancy or breast feeding as there is no proper scientific information on this subject.

  • Since meat is a primary source of dietary creatine, creatine supplements can have pronounced effects on those individuals with lower creatine levels like vegetarians.

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