The Pros and Cons of Creatine
This is a muscle enhancement and weight training workout product that (as far as current, limited research has shown) is far safer than a steroid but also doesn’t deliver the results of steroids.
Steroids are a testosterone-like hormone that has been shown to be very toxic or even harmful to the body and health of an individual, even though it promotes great muscle size and strength almost instantly. It is banned in all sports competitions and users are screened for it in their blood streams. Creatine is not a hormone nor is it generally illegal to use it in sport competitions, however there is no proven benefit for using it in such events.
Creatine is a natural substance found in the body (as creatine phosphate) as well as in certain meats and fish. It has three primary effects in muscle building circles. First, it helps to deliver more testosterone to all the cells in the body. Testosterone (or male sexual hormone) is what make muscles larger and more pronounced, which is why men always have far more muscle on their bodies than do women. Second, it helps to draw liquid into all the muscles (drinking large quantities of water is to be done in tandem with the taking of creatine), thus engorging them. In short it’s like putting a dry sponge into water, with about the same results. A 3 to 10% increase in muscle size is realized (in combination with water and exercise) over a one month period of time. Third, it renews muscle strength by the introduction of chemicals back into the body that help convert spent muscle strength elements back into useful muscle strength elements (known as ATP).
While the results in size and weight are not as pronounced in women as it is in men, they too will grow. It is not unusual for the average user, male or female, to gain at least three pounds (of water weight) and some gain as much as 7 or 8 pounds. The effect would be everywhere, including the face, which has muscles you normally don’t exercise in weight training.
About 20% of the users of creatine don’t experience any of these effects and there is only speculation as to why this happens. It is assumed that they may already have enough creatine in their bodies so that the introduction of external creatine has little or no effects (do not over dose on this substance as there is no evidence to show excessive amounts of creatine will do anything more as there may be a ceiling as to how much creatine you can take before the effects ceased because you reach your own limit, but the toxicity of the substance will still increase).
Some users experience some side effects, of which diarrhea is the most common contradiction. In teenagers, especially boys, mood swings and even belligerent behavior has been noted by some doctors and parents. The Physicians Desk Reference (PDR), which is the blue book of medications, and most sports doctors caution that no one under the age of 18 should use creatine without medical advise and supervision, plus a full disclosure to parents about all the effects, good and bad, associated with this over the counter, non-prescription substance.
There is also some concern over possible kidney damage, so anyone with kidney problems should not take creatine without first consulting with a physician. Most experts also say creatine should not be used on a on-going basis. That you should take it initially for a month or two, then take a month off, then go back to it for another month.
When you stop taking creatine the size of your body and weight will generally decreased in a few weeks. The idea behind this substance is partially psychological. It allows the user to get some instant gratification to help them along the road to successful body building. It is not intended to see regular use over the course of your life. After six months or so of intermediate usage and lots of weight training exercise (3 – 5 hours a day) you should be able to continue your efforts without the creatine and see a good body, with large, well shaped muscles.
There is no indication nor evidence to support the belief that creatine is a useful tool in endurance sports such as running.
Creatine does provide benefit for weight training in that if you have this in your blood stream it helps to restore ATP, which is the material used by your body to make muscles move. ATP is quickly removed from the muscle and only restored or converted by the introduction of phosphates, which creatine provides. So creatine not only increase muscle size and weight within a few weeks, but it provides the body builder with more work out stamina, which the neophyte needs until they build true strength and endurance through both strength training (increased weights even for one lift) and endurance training (many lifts of lighter weights designed to increased your stamina).
Creatine was suspect in the death of one wrestler, but no concrete evidence was shown to support this conclusion, however researchers are looking into all side effects, including what creatine might be doing to the heart, which is a muscle, as creatine enlarges all muscles in some users. It is also possible that a toxic level can be reached by using too much of this substance and it should be noted that there is a threshold that even muscle experts acknowledge indicating that once you reach a certain dosage, no more useful benefits are seen. So, don't put more of this into your system than is required to reach a peak level as it is does no further benefit to your body or strength, it costs a lot of money to use this product and you might accidentally reach a toxic level.
Creatine is also shown to have some positive effects in MS (Multiple Sclerosis) which is a progressive disease that affects the muscles. It is not a wonder drug that makes people walk again, but it has some small benefits in some physical therapeutic work with some MS patients. The facts on this, however, are not yet in, so this could be propaganda meant to spread the word of creatine as a “wonder drug.”
There are several forms of creatine (monohydrate, citrate and serium monohydrate are the most commonly found), with some offering more effectiveness then others. There is also some clinical evidence to show that some brands of creatine contain more serious toxins that other brands, upwards to 100 milligrams of serious contaminants such as those chemicals found in the production of computer chips.
Women, especially young girls, should use creatine with great care as it may increase your size and mood in a way that is not beneficial.
The increased testosterone flow may affect factors in some pattern baldness conditions and other hair groth issues which are associated with this male hormone.
Since creatine is a toxin (the active ingredients as well as the inert ingredients) it may also aid in the increase of cellulite, so those with this problem should see about reducing their fat levels, increase drinking of water and should start to see a reduction of their cellulite before starting with creatine, which can play a small part in helping to trap fat cells thus increasing cellulite. Again, experts will probably say this is extreme and highly unlikely, but as yet there is not enough clinical nor practical experience with creatine to know things one way or the other.
Creatine does have some benefits in renewing ATP for weight training and by helping to initially enlarge the muscles, engorging them with fluids, which is also a good thing and works psychologically for the person new to weight training. It is not intended to be a permanent part of your diet or lifestyle.
Creatine is suspect in some adverse conditions, especially kidney (renal) disorders and behavior disorders. One should consult with a physician before embarking on the use of this substance, especially if you are under the age of 18.
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