In the supplement world, there's possibly no more-misunderstood supplement than creatine. For years, people have made claims like "creatine makes you hold water", or "creatine is a steroid", but claims like these couldn't be further from the truth.
Here, we address some of the myths about creatine and separate the facts from the nonsense.
Myth - Creatine is a steroid.
Fact - Creatine is not a steroid, and is actually a naturally-occuring substance found in muscle cells of humans and other animals, and is naturally-produced from amino acids in the kidney and liver.
Myth - Creatine is new and untested.
Fact - Creatine was discovered in 1832 and has been used in supplements for many decades. To date, there have been hundreds (if not thousands) of research studies done on creatine. Most of them show significantly positive results from creatine supplementation.
Myth - Creatine is bad for your kidneys.
Fact - No studies have shown any significant relationship between creatine intake and kidney damage. Most studies agree that 20g or less of creatine per day results in no side effects.
Myth - Creatine makes you hold water and look bloated.
Fact - Creatine draws water and other nutrients into muscle cells, making them expand. The water isn't held under the skin (as many believe), and it helps actually draw water from under the skin and into muscle cells. The result of this is a tighter, and less bloated appearance.
Myth - Creatine upsets your stomach.
Fact - There have been isolated cases of stomach discomfort with high doses of creatine monohydrate. This can be alleviated by taking the recommended daily dose of creatine (approx. 5 grams) spread over a number of servings, or by taking a concentrated form of creatine such as creatine hydrochloride (HCl).
Myth - You'll gain 10 kilos of muscle in a month with creatine.
Fact - Creatine is an extremely-effective supplement for increasing lean body mass, strength, power and endurance. But it's not an anabolic steroid. You should see some gains when you use creatine (especially if you're a first-time user), but your body can still only build a little muscle at a time. If you're gaining ½ - 1 kilo of muscle per month, you're doing extremely well.
Hopefully this has dispelled some of the myth and rumour surrounding creatine use. It's one of the most reliable, most researched and most cost-effective supplements you can get, and is a must for anyone looking to increase their performance in the gym and build muscle. Just don't believe the hype.
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