I have the privilege of working with a team that’s so passionate about learning that I can take simple science for granted. The reality check of what is out there is always a welcome one, and several days ago a friend sent me this news report, called “Dangerous Muscle Enhancers with Creatine.”
I got pissed.
Are you kidding me? Are you f*cking kidding me?! It seems to me that with everything we know about creatine, reporting on the perceived or possible dangers of the product is purely sensationalism. I turned to my friends at Examine.com to help debunk some of the bullshit that’s out there. First, let’s first look at some biases.
I like picking up heavy shit, and believe that developing appropriate measures of strength empower many to reach their goals. The quoted dietician is an triathlete and triathlon coach, meaning she’s focused on helping others and herself go very very far, for very very long. If she’s like the Energizer Bunny, I’m like the Energizer Battering Ram. I point those out because they’ll allow for ad hominem attacks if you still don’t like research.
Creatine research is interesting. The field is at a point where we don’t really see very much interesting research on creatine and human performance. Those studies are being done by uncreative graduate students who need to do something for their paper. The most intriguing research is on the neurological effects of the supplement.
It’s almost as if researchers have such a clear picture that they’ve moved on to more productive things. In short, it is evident than creatine does little to nothing for measures of aerobic capacity. We also know that creatine can do a little something for measures of anaerobic capacity. This means that while your marathon time might not improve very much, your 100m time may. That’s because of what creatine does in the body.
Our body uses three main energy systems and has the ability to seamlessly transition between them when necessary. (You’re not aware of that switch, are you? Didn’t think so.) Of the three systems, creatine plays the biggest part in that ATP-CP system, and that C stands for creatine. When our lives demand high-force or high-speed actions, creatine is there to help out. Just as was mentioned in the report above, creatine may be a component in breaking a tackle or jumping for a rebound. However, there are other things that do that.
An appropriate strength training program is incredibly effective for helping us get better at high-powered activities. Appropriate diet and water intake can have a huge impact as well. As mentioned in the report, these are great for you. According to the report, they are healthy ways to improve performance. That makes them muscle enhancers. Guess what else is a muscle enhancer, jackass?! Anything that improves your ability to perform. This includes sleep and recovery*, diet and nutrition*, and appropriate training*.
Depending on the activity, creatine can help with recovery, nutrition, and training. Your body thinks it’s so damn cool that it already makes some endogenously, and as noted, it’s in the fish and meat that we consume. The notion that creatine is a dangerous performance enhancer is ludicrous, unless of course, creatine doesn’t help you with your preferred measure of performance.
According to Kurtis Frank at Examine.com:
I honestly see no reason why somebody shouldn’t supplement creatine, nor do I see any logical basis for the seeming ‘fear’ of this compound in society.
It’s safe, it’s healthy, it’s cheap, and for most people, it just works. Get some Creatine Monohydrate, take 5g a day, and you’re good to go.
If humans didn’t make any in the body, this thing would be a vitamin. There do exist deficiency symptoms that result in mental retardation. They’re rare, but they pretty much establish the importance of this molecule as a vitamin-like compound.
The idea that creatine is bad for you or an illicit performance enhancer is born of academic negligence or misinformation. It’s the Bro Science of internet message boards, or the Dr.(o) science of misinformed but well respected figures. Creatine isn’t a steroid, it’s a safe and reliable supplement that may be a part of your goal-reaching plan.
I’m off to put 5g of creatine monohydrate in my water. Take at your own risk.