If you have even considered becoming active in the gym, particularly when it comes to weightlifting, there is no doubt that you have heard of creatine and its related supplements. This is because it has become one of the most effective and widely accepted supplements out there for improving performance, gaining muscle mass, and adding strength.
Yet despite all of the praise that gets heaped on it, there are still questions about whether or not creatine is safe. Like any other supplement out there, creatine has many pros and cons that are worth weighing before implementing it into your daily routine.
Here are just a few of the pros and cons of creatine that you should consider before introducing it into your daily routine.
Pro: Increases Muscle Mass
One of the primary reasons that creatine is so widely used by those who take their gym routine seriously is that it helps boost the body’s ability to build muscle. This is something that just about anyone hitting the gym on a regular basis looks to do.
When used alongside a consistent workout routine, creatine has been shown to have a substantial impact on the ability to add healthy, quality muscle. More specifically, strength increases have been seen in the bench press, meaning bigger gains for both muscle quality and strength.
Most of all, using a creatine supplement can provide that lean, healthy body mass while helping to decrease body fat. For this reason and many more, creatine has become a popular supplement in the fitness world.
Con: Causes Bloating
There have been some users of creatine supplements out there that have experienced abdominal bloating in the “loading phase,” or the early part of the regimen. This is because, during the loading phase, your body is increasing its muscle mass and water absorption, the latter leading to bloating.
This generally passes. Once your body absolves itself of that extra water weight, this becomes less of an issue. Your body begins to get used to the creatine supplement, making the necessary adjustments so that bloating stops being an issue.
Pro: Boosts Mental Performance
There have been several studies that show that using a creatine supplement has improved overall mental performance. This mainly lays with intelligence and memory and creatine users showed improved working memory, an increase in intelligence, and less mental fatigue.
While the studies of creatine on mental health continue to develop, there has even been research that found that the necessary amount of creatine to get these mental benefits can be found in your diet. This means no need for an additional supplement, though that could simply provide an additional boost.
If you have been struggling with memory issues, a creatine supplement could help to alleviate those concerns and help get you back on the right mental track.
Con: Causes Weight Gain
While this is something that bodybuilders are looking for, athletes of other sports are generally not looking to pack on the pounds. While the amount of body weight you put on depends on how much creatine you are taking as well as your natural genetics, additional weight to a slimmer frame may not be welcome.
The extra weight, as covered in the bloating section, comes from the retention of water that is caused by creatine.
This water retention can lead to an increase in both water weight and muscle mass, both of which can cause additional weight gain.
If you are trying to stay lean and keep the pounds off, a creatine supplement may not be the best idea for your regimen.
Pro: Improves Endurance And Strength
Another primary reason that creatine is so common in the fitness world is that it has shown the ability to improve the overall endurance and strength of those using it. In particular, it has shown the ability to improve weight-lifting abilities in young men that do resistance training.
Creatine can increase the levels of phosphocreatine in the body, which produces ATP energy. Since ATP energy is the main source of fuel the body needs for those high-intensity workouts, it can lead to a substantial increase in power and strength.
With a creatine supplement on your side, there is the chance for a marked improvement when it comes to gym performance and results.
Con: Can Cause Lightheadedness
Like just about any other supplement or medication out there, side effects are a natural part of things. There have been users of creatine that have noted they felt dizzy or lightheaded during their workouts. While it isn’t the most common side effect, it is one that can feel troublesome.
If you become dizzy during a workout, it is important to stop right away as fainting could be right behind it. Even so, dizziness can come from working out too hard; this is due to a lack of oxygen getting to the brain.
Keep an eye on patterns and trends with your creatine intake. If you notice a consistent lightheadedness, then it is likely from the supplement. Otherwise, it could just be a coincidence.
Pro: Aids In Muscle Repair
There have been studies to suggest that creatine is quite helpful when it comes to repairing damaged muscles due to athletic activities.
The supplement can increase the level of glucose transport protein that is most often found in striated muscle.
This means preventing reductions of the protein while the muscles are working to repair themselves in the wake of an injury.
During an injury, the size and strength of your muscles can deplete substantially because of immobilization.
By supplementing creatine, it can help to reduce the loss caused by inactivity during that injury while aiding the repair of the damaged muscles.
In short, creatine has many positive effects while limiting the amount of negative aspects experienced. It can do wonders for improving strength, endurance, muscle growth, and mental health benefits. Adding a creatine supplement into your life could result in marked improvements in a number of different areas.