Creatine Supplements

Creatine Supplements Facts

While many athletes go far on their own steam, many more eventually turn to a variety of supplements and drugs to enhance their performance. With massive competition on the field and in the gym, athletes are continuously on a quest for something to help them outrun, outlast and out-lift their opponents.

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One of the most popular supplements around is creatine. This substance is purported to provide a big energy boost and to aid muscle growth.

Creatine is a natural supplement; however, not much research has been done regarding its effectiveness or its long-term effects on the body. It is, however, widely accessible in a wide variety of forms, including bars, powders and tablets, and this easy access has added to its popularity.

Creatine Supplement Information

Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid compound that is naturally produced in our bodies by the liver, pancreas and kidneys. It is dispersed through the bloodstream until it reaches the muscles, where it is converted into creatine phosphate. Creatine phosphate is a powerful metabolite that goes to work regenerating the muscles’ prime energy source.

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Creatine is completely natural and can be found in many foods we eat. Beef, salmon, herring, and tuna all contain a degree of creatine. To really see any significant benefits from creatine, however, one would need to consume it in much larger quantities than can be found in a regular diet. For this reason, many bodybuilders and athletes choose to include creatine supplements in their programs.

The Benefits of Creatine

In the 1970s various studies indicated that creatine supplements had the potential to enhance athletic performance. In many cases, creatine provided a significant boost of strength, helped build lean muscle mass, and helped muscles recover more quickly from the strain of exercise. Creatine seemed particularly effective in providing short-term boosts of energy for intense exercise like weight-lifting. Some studies showed that swimmers performed better after taking creatine. Other studies showed a marked improvement among sprinters who used creatine supplements.

Creatine really caught on among athletes by the 1990s, and continues to be an extremely popular supplement today. Creatine is particularly popular among college level and professional athletes, with an estimated 40-50% saying that they use creatine supplements regularly to enhance performance. Regarding its permissibility in sports events, I found on the US Government National Institutes of Health Medline Plus site:

“Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and professional sports. However, the NCAA no longer allows colleges and universities to supply creatine to their students with school funds. Students are permitted to buy creatine on their own and the NCAA has no plans to ban creatine unless medical evidence indicates that it is harmful. With current testing methods, detection of supplemental creatine use would not be possible.”

Is Creatine Safe to Use?

As with any supplement, “natural” doesn’t necessarily equal “safe”. Since supplements aren’t medications, they aren’t as stringently moderated or monitored. To date, very little research has been done, and the long-term effects of creatine supplements are still unknown.

If you are generally healthy, you should be able to process creatine with no problem; however, do follow the dosing instructions carefully. When used in excess, some side effects can crop up, including weight gain, breathing problems, diarrhea, kidney problems, rash, nausea and stomach upset.

Creatine may be an excellent addition to your workout routines. Simply be wise in selecting supplements, listen to your doctor, and continue listening to your body to know what’s working and what’s not.

Related Resources:

US Government National Institutes of Health Medline Plus Site

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons