Creatine is a popular fitness supplement known for its performance-enhancing properties. However, it sometimes gets a bad rap. Whether you heard about it from a fellow gym goer or read about it online, people have a lot to say about creatine, and it’s not always good.
So, how can we weed out fact versus folly? Below are some common creatine myths debunked so you can make the best decision when choosing your fitness supplements.
1. Creatine Causes You to Bloat
If you are new to taking creatine, you may have heard about the dreaded creatine bloat. This is a phenomenon associated with creatine loading – when you take high amounts of creatine (20-25 grams) for 5-7 days. Creatine loading is believed to help your muscles quickly build up stores of creatine so you can reap the benefits sooner .
Our muscles hold water. When we load up on creatine, there is a noticeable increase in total body water. This is sometimes reflected on the scale as weight gain. This is expected to resolve within a few weeks following the loading phase.
2. Creatine is Not Safe for Kidneys
Another common concern with taking creatine is its potential negative impact on the health of our kidneys. Creatine does have the potential to worsen kidney function in those with known kidney disease; however, more research on this is still needed. Current research shows it is safe for healthy people to take creatine supplements in recommended doses. As with any supplement, it is important to choose one from a reputable manufacturer, preferably with third-party testing [4, 5].
3. You Must Do Creatine Cycles
Creatine cycles are periods of creatine loading and creatine maintenance. This process is believed to help build creatine stores in the muscles quickly. Most people have about 60-80% of their creatine stores supplied by their diet; therefore, creatine cycling or creatine loading is not a requirement to get the full benefit from supplementation. Studies have found taking lower doses of creatine daily can provide the same benefits; it just takes a little longer [6, 7].
4. All Types of Creatine Are the Same
There are 6 different types of creatine you may find on the market, creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride, buffered creatine, liquid creatine, and creatine magnesium chelate. Contrary to popular belief, not all creatine is created equal. Creatine monohydrate, such as that found in Naked Nutrition’s Naked Creatine powder, contains the most research on its performance-enhancing benefits. Because of this, it’s a cut above the rest when it comes to optimal creatine supplementation. Other forms may be available at a lower price point, but you run the risk of getting a less effective product.
Creatine monohydrate is one of the most common forms of creatine found in supplements. In research, creatine monohydrate was associated with the most significant and well-known benefits, including improved exercise performance. Because we know more about this form of creatine than the others, it also has a higher safety profile [8, 9].
Creatine monohydrate supplements are considered safe and effective. Although you may experience some water weight gain if you choose to participate in creatine loading, it won’t last forever, and it’s not required to load. You can still get the benefit of creatine without loading or cycling. Creatine monohydrate supplements are completely safe for healthy individuals, but those with a history of kidney disease should avoid this supplement.
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