Creatine: pro's and cons

11 - 02 - 2019

You sometimes hear the wildest stories about creatine. Bad for the kidneys! You will gain 5 kg! Forbidden in France so it can't be healthy! What is it all about? We hope to clarify it in this blog.

But what is creatine?

Creatine is a nitrogen-rich compound that is produced in the liver from 3 amino acids: L-arginine, L-methionine and glycine. We take an average of 1 gram of creatine per day via our diet, mainly by eating meat and fish products. In the body this creatine is used in the energy supply of muscle and nerve cells.

How does it work?

Creatine is converted to creatine phosphate when your body is at rest. ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy source of the body, is used for this process. ADP (adenosine diphosphate) is being formed during this transition. The enzyme creatine kinase then ensures that ATP is formed again. This is an energy-rich compound that supports muscle contraction. The more creatine phosphate there is in the cell, the more ATP can be re-created and the more energy is released.

The energy supply of the system above only takes place during the first seconds of an effort. Then the body switches to the other energy-producing mechanisms it has. The use of creatine therefore only makes sense in sports where there are explosive short efforts like most strength sports. But it is also a great addition to sports such as football, short distance swimming, martial arts, ...

Disadvantages of creatine

Some people suffer from a sensitive stomach or even diarrhea when using creatine. However, this is almost always linked to an overdose of this substance. A side effect that is not insufferable, however, is weight gain. This is due to a larger storage of water by the body. In some cases this can be up to 2-3kg. This is an additional factor why creatine is not widely used in endurance sports. After all, a lower weight is considered an advantage here.

Because of this extra storage of water, the myth has also been created that creatine would be bad for the kidneys. This is not correct at all. The reality is that the body consumes more water with supplementation of creatine and that most do not take this into account. This can lead to kidney problems in some cases (people who drink very little) in the long term. So drinking more during creatine supplementation is crucial!

How to take?

Creatine is usually taken in stages. The body gets used to the use after a few weeks and the effect decreases. After a period of 8-10 weeks you should take a rest period of four weeks.

There are 2 systems known: with or without charging phase.

  • With charging phase

Take 20g of creatine per day during the first week. The weeks after you switch to 3 to a maximum of 5g per day. The maximum creatine content in the cell is reached quickly through the loading phase.

  • Without charging phase

Take 3-5g of creatine every day. This is mainly used by people who suffer too much from the high doses in the first week.

Which form of creatine is the best form?

Monohydrate, ethyl ester, buffered and doubly buffered creatine. Every year, the manufacturers of raw materials come with a new version on the market. The new forms, however, are not or poorly proven1. The reality is that the original form of creatine, the monohydrate version, is still your best choice. You can usually choose between the powder and capsules or tablets. We swear by the powder form. You take this with a large glass of water, which also responds immediately to the larger water demand of your body. In addition, your stomach will empty faster due to the large volume of water and the creatine will enter the small intestine more quickly where it is absorbed. Longer exposure to the stomach content leads to the conversion to creatinine, which is removed as a waste product by the kidneys.

We also have a capsule form in the range, which can certainly be used. Here too, we recommend drinking a large volume of water to achieve the same effect.

1.https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-9-43