is For Real
The first thing to clear up regarding creatine is the misnomer that it is an anabolic steroid, or somehow a relative of steroids. It is not. Sometimes people in the media wrongly associate it with illegal substances, such as steroids and the like. Actually, the supplement is a derivative from meat.
It is compound made made naturally in our bodies or it can be taken as a dietary supplement. Its chemical name is methyl guanidine-acetic acid. Its chemical makeup is shown here:
Many studies have demonstrated that it aids in performing tasks requiring short bursts of speed and power. It works by assisting in the regeneration of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which allows muscles to perform contractions for longer periods before becoming fatigued.
It also tends to “volumize” muscle by pulling water into muscle cells, increasing their size, which of course appeals to competition bodybuilders. It is not clear, however, how great an effect it has in this regard, but the ATP benefits seem to be clear and well established.
Other benefits such as enhancing protein synthesis and buffering lactic acid build-up during exercise have been shown in some research, but so far the benefits are not conclusive and definite.
All of this sounds pretty good. However, just because it is a natural substance, does not automatically mean that it is safe. Remember that supplements are not held to the same standards by the FDA as medications. So you can't always know exactly what's in a supplement, or in what amounts, unless it is authenticated by a reliable, independent lab.
Though most healthy people can take creatine without problems, it can, in rare cases, have adverse effects, particularly when used in excess. It should be pointed out that researchers still don't know the long-term effects, especially in young people. One concern is that adolescents who take it often do so without their doctor's advice, which can result in taking more than the recommended dose.
I recommend always telling your personal physician about any supplements you are taking.
Personal note: I used it for a while several years ago and became somewhat stronger in most exercises. So I have to say that it worked as promised. My muscles also felt "fuller." There were no negative side effects. But because the long-term effects are still unknown, I don't use it now. Also, at my age additional bulk is no longer a priority with me. -LF