Creatine: the 12 biggest myths

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Creatine is the most researched, most effective and most popular strength sports supplement. However, there are still many ambiguities and myths surrounding this substance. Let’s settle that.

MYTH 1: DON’T TAKE CREATINE IN THE CUT, BECAUSE IT KEEPS YOU MOISTURE

Fact: creatine supplementation does indeed retain fluid, but that happens in the muscle cell (intracellular). This makes you look better rather than worse (“watery” or “puffy”).

We always recommend taking creatine during the cut, as it provides a small but welcome boost when training with a calorie deficit.

MYTH 2: CREATINE MAKES YOU FAT

Fact: creatine may lead to some weight gain, but that’s purely due to fluid retention. There is no fat gain as a result of creatine use.

MYTH 3: CREATINE HAS BAD SIDE EFFECTS

Fact: numerous studies have shown that taking creatine is safe and does not cause any negative side effects. For example, creatine is not bad for the liver, kidneys and heart. This is based on a daily dose of 5 grams, but researchers also encountered no side effects when supplemented with 10 grams.

Creatine is one of the most tested supplements and therefore has a high safety profile.

MYTH 4: CREATINE MONOHYDRATE IS ‘OLD-FASHIONED’ – TAKE DIFFERENT FORMS

Fact: creatine monohydrate saturates the muscle cell 100% with phosphocreatine. You will not find better than 100%.

Other (often more expensive) forms of creatine are no better than creatine monohydrate according to research, and some, such as creatine ethyl ester, are even worse.

MYTH 5: YOU SHOULD TAKE BUFFERED CREATINE

Fact: research shows that buffered creatine, also called Kre-Alkalyn, is no more effective than creatine monohydrate.

Kre-Alkalyn is a buffered or pH correct form of creatine, which is considered more stable in the stomach and does not break down into creatinine, which in turn leads to greater bioavailability. However, research shows that a buffered form of creatine does not promote greater changes in muscle creatine levels, body composition or training adjustments than creatine monohydrate.

MYTH 6: YOU SHOULD HAVE A SHAKE WITH CREATINE SEVERAL TIMES A DAY

Fact: you can suffice with one daily intake of 3 to 5 grams.

If you use a loading phase (see myth 7), you can spread the daily intake (0.3 g per kg body weight) over three moments. This purely to prevent gastrointestinal problems , such as bloating, nausea and cramps. Spreading creatine intake over the day has no further benefit in terms of effect.

MYTH 7: YOU NEED TO LOAD CREATINE FIRST

Fact: loading isn’t necessary, but it does make the creatine supplement work faster.

A so-called loading phase is often recommended. This means that you apply a higher dose for the first 5 to 7 days of your creatine course, and then switch to a normal dose (the ‘maintenance phase’). For the loading phase, a daily dose of 0.3 g per kg body weight applies.

The only advantage of the loading phase is that you will notice the effects of creatine faster, usually within a week. Without a loading phase (you take 3-5 grams per day) you will  reach the maximum creatine level after 21 to 28 days. The effects are then the same as after a charging phase. In the long term, it does not matter much whether or not you use a charging phase.

MYTH 8: YOU SHOULD TAKE CREATINE BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT

Fact: creatine supplementation doesn’t work acutely; you build up a stock in the muscle cells and maintain it with a daily intake of 3 to 5 grams.

Taking creatine immediately before training provides no additional benefit; creatine is therefore incorrectly an ingredient of many pre-workout boosters.

limited number of studies suggest that creatine does its job best when taken after exercise. However, the study size is too small for firm conclusions.

Timing of creatine intake is not of great importance, if not irrelevant.

MYTH 9: THE MORE CREATINE, THE BETTER

Fact: most get the maximum effect at 3 grams per day. For convenience, a dose of 5 grams per day is usually used. More than that is unnecessary in most cases: you simply pee out the excess creatine.

Creatine supplementation does not work acutely. You are supposed to build and maintain a satiety in your muscles by taking 3-5 grams each day.

MYTH 10: YOU SHOULD CYCLE CREATINE

Fact: you can also safely use creatine continuously.

Creatine offers several scientifically proven benefits for the strength athlete, has no or hardly any side effects and is relatively cheap. Every reason to stick to creatine. This is in contrast to most other strength sports supplements, which have no or only minor effect and on which you can therefore save better.

If you take creatine supplements for some time, at the recommended dose of 3 to 5 grams per day, your body may produce less creatine on its own. However, when you stop taking creatine, your natural creatine production will be restored to the old level within a short time.

There are no real arguments why you should use creatine in cycles.

MYTH 11: CREATINE MAKES YOU BALD

Fact: there is no convincing evidence that creatine use can lead to hair loss, according to Examine.com. Supplements specialist Darren Candow also considers it a myth.

MYTH 12: CREATINE IS A LEGAL FORM OF ANABOLIC STEROID

Fact: forget it, creatine is by no means an anabolic steroid and it is nowhere near the effect of an anabolic steroid.

You can compare creatine more to a mineral or vitamin. The effects are relatively limited, but they do not harm your health, which can be the case when using anabolic steroids.

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