Creatine: Yes or No?

thefan

Professional
Been thinking about using creatine for a long time now. Read a lot of articles that it can increase muscle mass and endurance. If I actually do get creatine, I'm definitely not going to load, I'll just take around 5 grams a day.

I'm planning on using it only for maybe 2-3 months.
But what scares me is that I've heard that people have loss significant amount of mass/strength after not using creatine. Is this true?
Or should I just stick to protein?
 

Phil

Hall of Fame
No. Don't bother with garbage supplements. You can achieve more (and save a ton of money) by eating and training smartly.
 

joeyscl

Rookie
Even though i dont take it myself, i think Whey Protein is a pretty safe bet.... I mean, cmon, how much Bad a PROTEin do to you? (WEll, unless you Overdoes on it or something)
 

federmann

Rookie
no. eat more meat or fish and you get the same results as from taking creatine in a small dose, like you said.
great if you didn't plan to load, because i believe creatine is very unhealthy in long time use.
 
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chess9

Hall of Fame
I hadn't used any creatine until I read Will Brink's book on creatine. Get a free copy here: http://www.brinkzone.com/

I bought his E-book as well and have found it very enlightening. I've lifted for years, but always rolled my eyes at those guys who were popping pills, thinking "never me"!

I've only been using it about two weeks now, but I've noticed small gains in my lifting. No other noticeable effects except a slight gain in weight (about 2 lbs).

The public perception of creatine-one I held-is dead wrong, IMHO, so I'm coming out of the closet and admitting I take creatine. :)

BTW, Will Brink is a Harvard educated scientist (with his own agenda of course) and a lifter.

Eat right, train hard, and if you need a little help, well, give creatine a try. If you are under 18, I can't recommend any supplements except multivitamins, including creatine.

-Robert
 

federmann

Rookie
I hadn't used any creatine until I read Will Brink's book on creatine. Get a free copy here: http://www.brinkzone.com/

I bought his E-book as well and have found it very enlightening. I've lifted for years, but always rolled my eyes at those guys who were popping pills, thinking "never me"!

I've only been using it about two weeks now, but I've noticed small gains in my lifting. No other noticeable effects except a slight gain in weight (about 2 lbs).

The public perception of creatine-one I held-is dead wrong, IMHO, so I'm coming out of the closet and admitting I take creatine. :)

BTW, Will Brink is a Harvard educated scientist (with his own agenda of course) and a lifter.

Eat right, train hard, and if you need a little help, well, give creatine a try. If you are under 18, I can't recommend any supplements except multivitamins, including creatine.

-Robert

well, there are no valid studies of the negative effects of long time use of creatine. but there are predictions that it may can cause a bigger myocardal muscle (sounds logical, because everey muscle gets bigger).
that is reason enough for me to NOT take creatine!
a friend of mine who was 40 years old at that time, i assume did use it for a long time, had an open heart surgery because of a too big myocardal muscle.
i'm not talking about the usual bigger myocardal muscle every sportsman has. this would have been perilous in the future without surgery.
there's no proof that creatine was too blame for this at all, but the prediction together with his surgery is reason enough to take a critical look at creatine.
 

chess9

Hall of Fame
well, there are no valid studies of the negative effects of long time use of creatine. but there are predictions that it may can cause a bigger myocardal muscle (sounds logical, because everey muscle gets bigger).
that is reason enough for me to NOT take creatine!
a friend of mine who was 40 years old at that time, i assume did use it for a long time, had an open heart surgery because of a too big myocardal muscle.
i'm not talking about the usual bigger myocardal muscle every sportsman has. this would have been perilous in the future without surgery.
there's no proof that creatine was too blame for this at all, but the prediction together with his surgery is reason enough to take a critical look at creatine.

"Side Effects and Warnings
There is limited systematic study of the safety, pharmacology, or toxicology of creatine. Individuals using creatine, including athletes, should be monitored by a healthcare professional. Users are advised to inform their physician or other healthcare professional.

Some individuals may experience gastrointestinal symptoms, including loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or nausea.

Creatine may cause muscle cramps or muscle breakdown, leading to muscle tears or discomfort. Weight gain and increased body mass may occur. Heat intolerance, fever, dehydration, reduced blood volume, or electrolyte imbalances (and resulting seizures) may occur.

There is less concern today than there used to be about possible kidney damage from creatine, although there are reports of kidney damage, such as interstitial nephritis. Patients with kidney disease should avoid use of this supplement. Similarly, liver function may be altered, and caution is advised in those with underlying liver disease.

In theory, creatine may alter the activities of insulin. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare professional, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

Chronic administration of a large quantity of creatine is reported to increase the production of formaldehyde, which may potentially cause serious unwanted side-effects.

Based on a case report, creatinine may increase the risk of compartment syndrome of the lower leg, a condition characterized by pain in the lower leg associated with inflammation and ischemia (diminished blood flow), which is a potential surgical emergency."
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-creatine.htmld

The only mention is of its heart helping effects. Do you have a cite for your fears? Perhaps you don't have all the facts about your friend's case? If he had pre-existing heart disease perhaps that was the cause of his problem?

I do know that some people are non-responders and some folks have stomach problems and/or diarrhea.

But, do what's best for YOU.

-Robert
 

federmann

Rookie
there's no proof that creatine was too blame for this at all, but the prediction together with his surgery is reason enough to take a critical look at creatine

this is the main part of my statement. i don't have the facts and so this is just speculation. but i found it to be a little alarming, not more.
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
To the OP, I strongly suggest you to read the Creatine Report from the link that was given from chess9.

I have talked about creatine in this forum for many times before.

I even started a thread around 2 months ago titled "Creatine Safety" , complete with references. If you want to read that thread, do some search.

Creatine is certainly NOT a garbage supplement. There are over 200 studies about the effectiveness, health benefits and safety of creatine published in reputable scientific journals.

But it's true that if you stop taking creatine, you will lose the gain that you have achieved on creatine (if you gain 5 pounds in 4 weeks on creatine, you will lose that 5 pounds when you are off creatine).

However, IF you decide to take creatine, keep this things in mind:

1. always buy creatine from reputable brand
2. always drink plenty of water when you are on creatine
3. take creatine for 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off, and then you can repeat the cycle.
4. People with pre existing kidney condition, should NOT taking creatine.

Good luck.
 
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Ano

Hall of Fame
no. eat more meat or fish and you get the same results as from taking creatine in a small dose, like you said.
great if you don't planned to load, because i believe creatine is very unhealthy in long time use.

Yeah, right...! You have to eat 2,5 pounds of beef or salmon to get 5 grams of creatine!!
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
I hadn't used any creatine until I read Will Brink's book on creatine. Get a free copy here: http://www.brinkzone.com/

I bought his E-book as well and have found it very enlightening. I've lifted for years, but always rolled my eyes at those guys who were popping pills, thinking "never me"!

I've only been using it about two weeks now, but I've noticed small gains in my lifting. No other noticeable effects except a slight gain in weight (about 2 lbs).

The public perception of creatine-one I held-is dead wrong, IMHO, so I'm coming out of the closet and admitting I take creatine. :)

BTW, Will Brink is a Harvard educated scientist (with his own agenda of course) and a lifter.

Eat right, train hard, and if you need a little help, well, give creatine a try. If you are under 18, I can't recommend any supplements except multivitamins, including creatine.

-Robert

Hi pal, Will Brink is one the the real experts who is honest and always tell the truth about drugs, supplements and training system.

He is one of my favorite writers.

I also suggest you to read the article titled "what's in your creatine" in www.brinkzone.com.

That article shows Will's honesty and has made him as the enemy of many bad supplement manufacturers.
 

federmann

Rookie
Yeah, right...! You have to eat 2,5 pounds of beef or salmon to get 5 grams of creatine!!

yes, but i was talking about a small dose and not about the five grams thread starter mentioned. i don't find 5 grams a day to be a small dose
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
No. Don't bother with garbage supplements. You can achieve more (and save a ton of money) by eating and training smartly.

Sorry pal, I couldn't disagree with you more on this topic.

When Creatine hit the market in 1993 (under the brand name Phospagen made by EAS), a 100 grams bottle cost around USD 70.

If you search the net now, you can buy 1 kilo of pure micronized creatine for around USD 20.

So one serving of creatine (5 grams) only costs around USD 0.1 (ten cents).

I'm a really cheap guy, but I can afford creatine, so I don't think the majority of people will have trouble to spend an extra ten cents a day do take creatine.
 

fearless1

Rookie
Been thinking about using creatine for a long time now. Read a lot of articles that it can increase muscle mass and endurance. If I actually do get creatine, I'm definitely not going to load, I'll just take around 5 grams a day.

I'm planning on using it only for maybe 2-3 months.
But what scares me is that I've heard that people have loss significant amount of mass/strength after not using creatine. Is this true?
Or should I just stick to protein?

...on a more down to earth practical note...

I've been taking creatine almost continuosly for past three years or so. It "stacks" very well with protien supplements. I use this stack for the following main general reasons (of my own): easier to control body fat composition than food only dieting; more "power" during workouts; better and faster post workout recuperation. My physical activities are tennis, aerobic classes, and weight training (bodybuidling). My wt training and aerobics have certainly helped by tennis; my tennis and aerobic classes have unfortunately plateaued my bodybuilding; all these activities have benefited from my stack.

In general, no matter what the sport or physical activity is, faster gains and shorter recuperation times are more likely to happen when using a protien/creatine stack as opposed to food diet alone. For bodybuilder, the benefits are obvious. For tennis players, the benefits are there too although less obvious. A tennis practice session has elements in it similar to a gym workout. Specifically, muscles are worked/exhausted and need recuperation too. You want to be able to run fast the next day(s); get used to swinging that heavier racquet; want more power on the serve, etc,? Recommend you use a stack. During the workout, the creatine helps with "energy utilization" too...you'll feel "stronger", more "powerful" and faster on the tennis court!

Over an extended period of time, you'll actually see more REAL growth of "tennis muscles" such as your hitting arm and legs too. The growth is real since it is over an extended period of time (as opposed to your concern for short term growth which is more due to muscle volumizing effect of creatine use). This IMPLIES that over an extended period of time, creatine use will make you a better tennis player, ceterus parabus. The few times I have off cycled from creatine, there was NO loss of muscle mass/strength.

Won't hurt you to simply try some...heck, your body already makes creatine anyway. You'll find out pretty fast if your body doesn't like it if you get nausea and/or digestive issues with its use. AFAIK, this isn't a problem for almost all who try creatine for the first time. Try it for 3 months like you have already indicated. This can be your "trial period".

Finally...

...make sure you take vitamin supplements too.

...got detailed questions? Ask ANO...he really knows his stuff...

f1
 
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chess9

Hall of Fame
Hi pal, Will Brink is one the the real experts who is honest and always tell the truth about drugs, supplements and training system.

He is one of my favorite writers.

I also suggest you to read the article titled "what's in your creatine" in www.brinkzone.com.

That article shows Will's honesty and has made him as the enemy of many bad supplement manufacturers.

Yes, I've read that one as well. I look for the Creapure lable now. :)

I was given a bottle of CEE, by the way, but I tossed it after reading what Brink had to say.

-Robert
 

fearless1

Rookie
Sorry pal, I couldn't disagree with you more on this topic.

When Creatine hit the market in 1993 (under the brand name Phospagen made by EAS), a 100 grams bottle cost around USD 70.

If you search the net now, you can buy 1 kilo of pure micronized creatine for around USD 20.

So one serving of creatine (5 grams) only costs around USD 0.1 (ten cents).

I'm a really cheap guy, but I can afford creatine, so I don't think the majority of people will have trouble to spend an extra ten cents a day do take creatine.

Ditto for protien supplements, esp when taken as a meal replacement drink/shake. A 70 cents prot shake is a lot cheaper (and usually healthier) than a a 3 to 5 dollar meal. In other words, a $30 bucket of protien powder may seem "expensive" but can save you about $150/mos from your food bill.
 

raiden031

Legend
I was on creatine for one cycle after being stuck in a rut for months in my weight lifting, and I was noticeably stronger within a week or two. I did have problems keeping myself hydrated because I didn't drink enough water. I read message boards about new creatine users tearing muscles after lifting for 10 or more years prior to using creatine. Coincidence? I doubt it. I got off of it because of all the negative publicity and am really waiting to see the results of more studies before I decide to get back on it.
 

xtremerunnerars

Hall of Fame
Phil....have you read anything on creatine? It's far from a garbage supplement, maybe you should get with the rest of the people who've read a medical study in the past 14 years.


If you do your reading and feel you are ready, nothing wrong with creatine. Be sure to get the most out of it, though.
 

tricky

Hall of Fame
BTW, the weight fluctuation with on/off creatine is basically glycogen and water. It doesn't reflect actual protein loss in any way.

The creatine causing muscle tears itself is based on flawed studies. There's never really been a explanation or even a proven connection between the two.

That being said, creatine like most supplements should wait until you have a good fitness and nutrition programme. Supplements enhance results; they don't solve plateaus/problems.
 

gabos

New User
i followed your original post when it was first posted, and I read this one with interest. I also, as you suggested, searched pubmed, and other sources, out of curiosity as to what the research shows. I could not find the 200 peer-reviewed articles unequivocally indicating creatine's safety; in fact, I really could not find any articles describing longitudinal studies which found statistically significant evidence of creatine's safety. There were a few articles which indicated that creatine might be unsafe, many reporting anecdotal evidence of adverse effects, and most suggested further study was needed, at the very least, before conclusions of safety could be drawn. The evidence seems to be unclear, at best.

I did, however, find this interesting article, "The effects of creatine supplementation on selected factors of tennis specific training," from which I quote below:

"Creatine supplementation is popular among tennis players but it is not clear whether it actually enhances tennis performance. ... RESULTS: Compared with placebo, neither six days nor five weeks of creatine supplementation had a significant effect on serving velocity (creatine: +2 km/h; placebo: +2 km/h, p = 0.90); forehand velocity (creatine: +4 km/h; placebo: +4 km/h, p = 0.80), or backhand velocity (creatine: +3 km/h- placebo: +1 km/h, p = 0.38 ). There was also no significant effect of creatine supplementation on repetitive sprint power after 5, 10, and 20 metres, (creatine 20 m: -0.03 m/s; placebo 20 m: +0.01 m/s, p = 0.18 ), or in the strength of the upper and lower extremities. CONCLUSIONS: Creatine supplementation is not effective in improving selected factors of tennis specific performance and should not be recommended to tennis players."

To the OP, I strongly suggest you to read the Creatine Report from the link that was given from chess9.

I have talked about creatine in this forum for many times before.

I even started a thread around 2 months ago titled "Creatine Safety" , complete with references. If you want to read that thread, do some search.

Creatine is certainly NOT a garbage supplement. There are over 200 studies about the effectiveness, health benefits and safety of creatine published in reputable scientific journals.

But it's true that if you stop taking creatine, you will lose the gain that you have achieved on creatine (if you gain 5 pounds in 4 weeks on creatine, you will lose that 5 pounds when you are off creatine).

However, IF you decide to take creatine, keep this things in mind:

1. always buy creatine from reputable brand
2. always drink plenty of water when you are on creatine
3. take creatine for 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off, and then you can repeat the cycle.
4. People with pre existing kidney condition, should NOT taking creatine.

Good luck.
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
i followed your original post when it was first posted, and I read this one with interest. I also, as you suggested, searched pubmed, and other sources, out of curiosity as to what the research shows. I could not find the 200 peer-reviewed articles unequivocally indicating creatine's safety; in fact, I really could not find any articles describing longitudinal studies which found statistically significant evidence of creatine's safety. There were a few articles which indicated that creatine might be unsafe, many reporting anecdotal evidence of adverse effects, and most suggested further study was needed, at the very least, before conclusions of safety could be drawn. The evidence seems to be unclear, at best.

I did, however, find this interesting article, "The effects of creatine supplementation on selected factors of tennis specific training," from which I quote below:

"Creatine supplementation is popular among tennis players but it is not clear whether it actually enhances tennis performance. ... RESULTS: Compared with placebo, neither six days nor five weeks of creatine supplementation had a significant effect on serving velocity (creatine: +2 km/h; placebo: +2 km/h, p = 0.90); forehand velocity (creatine: +4 km/h; placebo: +4 km/h, p = 0.80), or backhand velocity (creatine: +3 km/h- placebo: +1 km/h, p = 0.38 ). There was also no significant effect of creatine supplementation on repetitive sprint power after 5, 10, and 20 metres, (creatine 20 m: -0.03 m/s; placebo 20 m: +0.01 m/s, p = 0.18 ), or in the strength of the upper and lower extremities. CONCLUSIONS: Creatine supplementation is not effective in improving selected factors of tennis specific performance and should not be recommended to tennis players."

Here's a few references about long studies of creatine safety :

1. Kreider RB, et al. Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Mol Cell Biochem 2003 Feb; 244 (1-2): 95-104

2. Schilling BK, et al. Creatine supplementation and health variables: a retrospective study. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001 Feb;33(2):183-8.

3. Poortmans JR, et al, Adverse effects of creatine supplementation : fact or fiction? Sports Med 2000 Sep;30(3):155-70

4. Terjung RL, et al. American College of Sports Medicine roundtable. The physiological and health effects of oral creatine supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000 Mar;32(3):706-17
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
BTW, the weight fluctuation with on/off creatine is basically glycogen and water. It doesn't reflect actual protein loss in any way.

The creatine causing muscle tears itself is based on flawed studies. There's never really been a explanation or even a proven connection between the two.

That being said, creatine like most supplements should wait until you have a good fitness and nutrition programme. Supplements enhance results; they don't solve plateaus/problems.

Well said, Pal ! Very well said!!

A good supplement like Creatine can't do much if your training program, rest & recuperation and diets are bad.
 

fearless1

Rookie
i followed your original post when it was first posted, and I read this one with interest. I also, as you suggested, searched pubmed, and other sources, out of curiosity as to what the research shows. I could not find the 200 peer-reviewed articles unequivocally indicating creatine's safety; in fact, I really could not find any articles describing longitudinal studies which found statistically significant evidence of creatine's safety. There were a few articles which indicated that creatine might be unsafe, many reporting anecdotal evidence of adverse effects, and most suggested further study was needed, at the very least, before conclusions of safety could be drawn. The evidence seems to be unclear, at best.

I did, however, find this interesting article, "The effects of creatine supplementation on selected factors of tennis specific training," from which I quote below:

"Creatine supplementation is popular among tennis players but it is not clear whether it actually enhances tennis performance. ... RESULTS: Compared with placebo, neither six days nor five weeks of creatine supplementation had a significant effect on serving velocity (creatine: +2 km/h; placebo: +2 km/h, p = 0.90); forehand velocity (creatine: +4 km/h; placebo: +4 km/h, p = 0.80), or backhand velocity (creatine: +3 km/h- placebo: +1 km/h, p = 0.38 ). There was also no significant effect of creatine supplementation on repetitive sprint power after 5, 10, and 20 metres, (creatine 20 m: -0.03 m/s; placebo 20 m: +0.01 m/s, p = 0.18 ), or in the strength of the upper and lower extremities. CONCLUSIONS: Creatine supplementation is not effective in improving selected factors of tennis specific performance and should not be recommended to tennis players."

The test period of "6 days or 5 weeks" was way too short to prove anything significant (perhaps about the only thing proven by the study). No athlete or bodybuilder in his right mind could realisticly hope for significant change from creatine use in such a short period of time. Creatine is not some kind of "magic potion" that will suddenly make someone a "Superman" in their chosen sport. It's just another tool in the box, one that still has to be used correctly over an extended period of time to produce the desired benefits.
 

tennis-skater

Semi-Pro
I take it and I'm 15 my dad okayed it (well I'm going to start using it in about a month when I'm done cutting my weight to 135 (curenttly at 145)) But I used it for about a month a while ago and noticed pretty big gains I deffinetly reccomend it.
 

Phil

Hall of Fame
Sorry pal, I couldn't disagree with you more on this topic.

When Creatine hit the market in 1993 (under the brand name Phospagen made by EAS), a 100 grams bottle cost around USD 70.

If you search the net now, you can buy 1 kilo of pure micronized creatine for around USD 20.

So one serving of creatine (5 grams) only costs around USD 0.1 (ten cents).

I'm a really cheap guy, but I can afford creatine, so I don't think the majority of people will have trouble to spend an extra ten cents a day do take creatine.

Great, you can buy it cheaper online. So what? It's still junk and hype. Train and eat smart-that's all the "supplementation" you will ever need.
 

Phil

Hall of Fame
Phil....have you read anything on creatine? It's far from a garbage supplement, maybe you should get with the rest of the people who've read a medical study in the past 14 years.


If you do your reading and feel you are ready, nothing wrong with creatine. Be sure to get the most out of it, though.

Yes, I have read articles on creatine, so I'm "with" the people who have read a medical study in the past 14 years. My conclusion is, if you are training and eating right, it's unnecessary. The jury is still out on side effects and potential long-term damage, but why bother if you don't need it? Some 15-year old kid in this thread said he is taking it? Why?
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
Great, you can buy it cheaper online. So what? It's still junk and hype. Train and eat smart-that's all the "supplementation" you will ever need.

Phil, have you actually read even 1 study about creatine?

Give me your email address, and I will send you the "Creatine Report" by Will Brink. If after reading it you still consider creatine as a junk, than fine.!
 

tricky

Hall of Fame
Some 15-year old kid in this thread said he is taking it? Why?

Not that unusual nowadays for HS football players actually. I guess in circles I travel, teens and creatine just isn't that big of an issue anymore.

Creatine for tennis is kinda iffy because tennis is not an explosive, anaerobic sport. Creatine would most help in increasing work capacity for the conditioning program you would use for tennis. If the program isn't doing jack, neither will the creatine.

For that reason, I agree with your basic message, since most 15-year old kids are on monthly allowances anyway. The biggest limiting factor is budget for enough (nutritious) food. Not supplement intake.
 

Phil

Hall of Fame
Phil, have you actually read even 1 study about creatine?

Give me your email address, and I will send you the "Creatine Report" by Will Brink. If after reading it you still consider creatine as a junk, than fine.!

Is there a link where I can find it? I'll certainly read it when I have time.

Edit: Nevermind, I found it. Thanks.
 
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raiden031

Legend
Yes, I have read articles on creatine, so I'm "with" the people who have read a medical study in the past 14 years. My conclusion is, if you are training and eating right, it's unnecessary. The jury is still out on side effects and potential long-term damage, but why bother if you don't need it? Some 15-year old kid in this thread said he is taking it? Why?

Not everyone has the time, money, discipline, or knowledge to eat exactly right to get the same performance achieved with Creatine. I had seen results within 2 weeks after spending months without any gains whatsoever in muscle strength prior to trying out Creatine. There may be alot of speculation about creatine, but there really haven't been any conclusive studies that can honestly say it is dangerous.
 

Phil

Hall of Fame
Not everyone has the time, money, discipline, or knowledge to eat exactly right to get the same performance achieved with Creatine. I had seen results within 2 weeks after spending months without any gains whatsoever in muscle strength prior to trying out Creatine. There may be alot of speculation about creatine, but there really haven't been any conclusive studies that can honestly say it is dangerous.

It doesn't take a lot of time, money or discipline to eat right. It does take SOME time to do the reading, and certainly it takes SOME discipline, but why not do it the RIGHT way instead of seeking some artificial, dubious "pill". This is why the "supplement" industry has people hoodwinked...they think they can walk into a GNC and find a substitute for work/discipline that will get them there quicker.

It's hard to believe that two weeks of creatine gave you better results than months of training unless...there's a serious flaw in your training. It happens, and we all hit plateaus. The way off of a plateau is not by seeking some solution in a box. Just wait...those conclusive studies will come...it take time.
 

atatu

Legend
Creatine for tennis is kinda iffy because tennis is not an explosive, anaerobic sport. Creatine would most help in increasing work capacity for the conditioning program you would use for tennis. If the program isn't doing jack, neither will the creatine.
.

What makes you think tennis is not an explosive, anaerobic sport ? Do you mean compared to football ?
 

gabos

New User
Here's a few references about long studies of creatine safety :

1. Kreider RB, et al. Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Mol Cell Biochem 2003 Feb; 244 (1-2): 95-104

2. Schilling BK, et al. Creatine supplementation and health variables: a retrospective study. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001 Feb;33(2):183-8.

3. Poortmans JR, et al, Adverse effects of creatine supplementation : fact or fiction? Sports Med 2000 Sep;30(3):155-70

4. Terjung RL, et al. American College of Sports Medicine roundtable. The physiological and health effects of oral creatine supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000 Mar;32(3):706-17

I checked these out.

1) The longest period Kreider et al looked at was 21 months of use (slightly less than two years). If that's a longitudinal study you rely on, more power to you. I suspect I could ingest asbestos for 21 months and many of the "clinical markers of health" would not be adversely affected until years later.

2) Schilling et al grouped their data in 3 groups: no use, less than 1 year, or more than 1 year. All the more than one years are aggregated, so there is no way to tell what the maximum length of use was- it could be 1 year and 1 day (unlikely, but just as an example.) One could also question whether the base assumptions and means of their samples were equivalent enough to satisfy ANOVA, but I can't answer that. In any case, 1+ year is not long term enough to offer much comfort.

3) Poortmans et al studied usage for no more than 5 weeks. They reference longer-term studies of non-randomly selected groups, studies which examined only limited variables (renal function only) , but they did not perform such studies.

4) And the final study you cite, the Terjung study, does not in fact address the adverse health consequences of creatine, but only studies the effectiveness of it as a fitness tool, and concludes (ironically) that: "Although Cr supplementation exhibits small but significant physiological and performance changes, the increases in performance are realized during very specific exercise conditions. This suggests that the apparent high expectations for performance enhancement, evident by the extensive use of Cr supplementation, are inordinate."

I'm not saying by any means that creatine is bad for you- I don't know that. But I am taking issue with those who are saying with great certainty that it is, on the one hand, affirmatively good for you, and on the other hand, will definitely do you no harm. I have not seen any evidence of either of these presumptions as yet.
 

gabos

New User
The test period of "6 days or 5 weeks" was way too short to prove anything significant (perhaps about the only thing proven by the study). No athlete or bodybuilder in his right mind could realisticly hope for significant change from creatine use in such a short period of time. Creatine is not some kind of "magic potion" that will suddenly make someone a "Superman" in their chosen sport. It's just another tool in the box, one that still has to be used correctly over an extended period of time to produce the desired benefits.

Although I could counter by pointing out that many creatine proponents promise that it has positive effects in much less than 5 weeks (and in fact someone else in this very thread advocated "6 weeks on, 6 weeks off" as the proper usage), I think it's more important to note the truth of what you've said: "6 days or 5 weeks" is much too short to prove anything significant-- particularly the safety of creatine. Yet many of the studies so often cited here examine periods of equal brevity, and as my post above notes, few seem to go beyond a year or 2. Who knows?
 

tennis-skater

Semi-Pro
For me I find that using it did increase my endurance when I needed that little boost in the 3rd set and I felt faster I beat the kids in running drills that normally kill me. If you really want better info and stuff go here where everyone supports creatine http://forum.bodybuilding.com/
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
...on a more down to earth practical note...

I've been taking creatine almost continuosly for past three years or so. It "stacks" very well with protien supplements. I use this stack for the following main general reasons (of my own): easier to control body fat composition than food only dieting; more "power" during workouts; better and faster post workout recuperation. My physical activities are tennis, aerobic classes, and weight training (bodybuidling). My wt training and aerobics have certainly helped by tennis; my tennis and aerobic classes have unfortunately plateaued my bodybuilding; all these activities have benefited from my stack.

In general, no matter what the sport or physical activity is, faster gains and shorter recuperation times are more likely to happen when using a protien/creatine stack as opposed to food diet alone. For bodybuilder, the benefits are obvious. For tennis players, the benefits are there too although less obvious. A tennis practice session has elements in it similar to a gym workout. Specifically, muscles are worked/exhausted and need recuperation too. You want to be able to run fast the next day(s); get used to swinging that heavier racquet; want more power on the serve, etc,? Recommend you use a stack. During the workout, the creatine helps with "energy utilization" too...you'll feel "stronger", more "powerful" and faster on the tennis court!

Over an extended period of time, you'll actually see more REAL growth of "tennis muscles" such as your hitting arm and legs too. The growth is real since it is over an extended period of time (as opposed to your concern for short term growth which is more due to muscle volumizing effect of creatine use). This IMPLIES that over an extended period of time, creatine use will make you a better tennis player, ceterus parabus. The few times I have off cycled from creatine, there was NO loss of muscle mass/strength.

Won't hurt you to simply try some...heck, your body already makes creatine anyway. You'll find out pretty fast if your body doesn't like it if you get nausea and/or digestive issues with its use. AFAIK, this isn't a problem for almost all who try creatine for the first time. Try it for 3 months like you have already indicated. This can be your "trial period".

Finally...

...make sure you take vitamin supplements too.

...got detailed questions? Ask ANO...he really knows his stuff...

f1


Thanks fearless1.

IT's true that your body make creatine. Creatine is manufactured in the liver (it's formed from the amino acids arginine, methionine and glycine) and may also be produced in the pancreas and kidneys.

It is transported in the blood and taken up by muscle cells where it is converted to creatine phospate and stored there until it is used to produce chemical energy called adenosine triphosphate.

Similar to glycogen, when creatine is stored in muscle cells, it enhances the hydration of the cell. Scientific studies have shown that when a cell is properly hydrated or volumized, it may improve protein synthesis and muscle growth.
 

tricky

Hall of Fame
What makes you think tennis is not an explosive, anaerobic sport ? Do you mean compared to football ?

Creatine really makes a difference when the sport itself frequently stresses the muscle's ATP-CP system. For example, the difference of creatine in athletic performance would be GREAT for wrestling and water polo. But it wouldn't be as great if you were doing long distance running.

In tennis, there's aspects of that especially with serving and of course if you're playing an aggressive net game.

The thing with creatine is that it's all about optimizing the ATP-CP system. You could have "creatine-like" results by adding certain conditioning elements in your training. And in fact, the training by itself would be more effective than the creatine by itself. I would argue the tennis guy should be implementing that anyway, and then load creatine when games are coming up or if they're starting plyometrics.
 

chess9

Hall of Fame
Creatine really makes a difference when the sport itself frequently stresses the muscle's ATP-CP system. For example, the difference of creatine in athletic performance would be GREAT for wrestling and water polo. But it wouldn't be as great if you were doing long distance running.

In tennis, there's aspects of that especially with serving and of course if you're playing an aggressive net game.

The thing with creatine is that it's all about optimizing the ATP-CP system. You could have "creatine-like" results by adding certain conditioning elements in your training. And in fact, the training by itself would be more effective than the creatine by itself. I would argue the tennis guy should be implementing that anyway, and then load creatine when games are coming up or if they're starting plyometrics.


Yes, agreed, but you can also use it by cycling, say, 6 weeks on, 4 weeks off.

If you are the type of person who is going to require FDA level scrutiny of a supplement before you are willing to take it, then you will not be taking any of the supplements out there. IF, however, you are willing to experiment a bit with a substance that is available in smaller amounts in beef and which will enhance recovery and sprint speed, then give creatine a try. Some people are non-responders, some get some diahrrhea/upset stomach, but most will see increases in strength because you can do, for instance 10 reps of 100lbs curling versus 8 reps of the same weight. The next day you will be ready to go again. At my age, I find the biggest barrier to staying fit is RECOVERY. As we age it is harder and harder to train at a high level because you just don't recover quickly enough. Also, I ENJOY hard training as long as I can do it. I want to keep doing it until I'm 100, then I'll be glad to back off a bit. :)

But, please do not use creatine! I need every advantage I can get. :)

-Robert
 

raiden031

Legend
It doesn't take a lot of time, money or discipline to eat right. It does take SOME time to do the reading, and certainly it takes SOME discipline, but why not do it the RIGHT way instead of seeking some artificial, dubious "pill". This is why the "supplement" industry has people hoodwinked...they think they can walk into a GNC and find a substitute for work/discipline that will get them there quicker.

It's hard to believe that two weeks of creatine gave you better results than months of training unless...there's a serious flaw in your training. It happens, and we all hit plateaus. The way off of a plateau is not by seeking some solution in a box. Just wait...those conclusive studies will come...it take time.

It is difficult to coordinate your eating habits enough so that you are always able to eat the right amount of protein, right amount of carbs, and overall right amount of calories at the exact right time to maximize your performance in the weight room when you are traveling on business, or picking up the kids from sports or working 10 hours a day. Its just not feasible unless you have no life outside of your fitness regimen.

If it was so easy to have the discipline to eat right, then 60% of adult americans wouldn't be overweight now would they?

Creatine is not a solution out of a box because the body naturally produces it. Its just a supplement that actually works effectively. Yes I have plateaued and been stuck there because it is too inconvenient for me to be so strict on my diet to allow me decent gains in strength. My goal right now is simply to maintain muscle mass, which I've been able to do without creatine. But if I needed to gain anything, I'd probably have to go back on Creatine.

Creatine is not even a miracle pill. It still requires effort, it just allows you to perform better during exercise, which will result in faster gains.
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
You gain a lot of weight due to water retension don't you?

No. Creatine draws water from the body to do its work. There is a difference between cell volumization and water retention.

Cell volumization leads to more water inside the cells, making the muscle bigger and firmer.

Water retention, the process that makes the muscles look smooth, happens outside the muscle cells.

Creatine attracts water, so as your muscles absorb and store creatine, it brings additional water with it. This process super-saturates the muscle tissue with water and creatine, thus enlarging the actual muscle tissue. This super-saturation results in your muscles having that "just trained feeling" all day long. Many refer to this as the "perpetual pump" from creatine. Larger muscles in a matter of days: Can you believe some people refer to this phenomenon as a "side effect" of creatine? Indeed, many people take creatine for this "side effect" alone!

When you first start to take this supplement, it is common to gain a few pounds of muscle. Typical gains are three to five pounds, up to ten being possible, all in a week to ten days - thanks to this super-saturation. The additional weight gain in your muscles is good news, because every extra pound of functional muscle means you will burn additional calories?even while you are resting.

Make no mistake. Even though some of the weight increase is water in your muscles, it still acts as functional muscle. Some creatine opponents have gone on record stating that it just causes your muscles to retain water and is of no real value. Let's put things in perspective. Your muscles are already about 70 percent water without creatine. So is that seventy percent of your muscle useless to begin with? I don't think so. If you suck the water out of your muscles, you are left with a wrinkly little corpse.

But the question remains, are the gains you receive only muscular water retention, or are they actually lean muscle? According to a study done on a bunch of little piggies at Texas A & M University, the gain is lean muscle.(1) Before they were slaughtered, some pigs were fed 25g of creatine for five days, while the other little piggies got none. The pigs that were fed creatine gained almost five pounds more than the ones that did not receive creatine. When cooked, the muscle-bound little pigs that fed creatine showed less meat loss than the pigs not fed creatine. Bacon, anyone? So what can we learn from our squeaky little friends (besides how much fun rolling around naked in mud is, of course)?

From this study, one can conclude that while creatine results in inter-muscular water retention, it may also increase lean muscle. In yet another Belgium study, 25 healthy males were placed on a 42-day controlled strength-training program. Eight were fed creatine, ten a placebo, and seven formed a control group. The body mass of the creatine group went up two kilograms, while the other two groups showed no increase. The researchers concluded that "the relative volumes of the body water compartments remained constant and therefore the gain in body mass cannot be attributed to water retention, but probably to dry matter growth accompanied with a normal water volume." (2)

(1) Maddock R.J., Binder B.S., Carr S.N., Mckeith F.K., Berg E.P, Savell J.W. Department of Animal Sciences, Texas A & M University.

(2) Francaux M, Poortmans J.R., Effects of training and creatine supplement on muscle strength and body mass. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1999 Jul;80(2):165-168
 

thefan

Professional
Thanks for all the replies so far

I'm pretty thin and been working out but no significant gains. So, if I use creatine, my muscle will be loaded with water, thus making it bigger. But after I stop using creatine (I definitely dont plan on using it for long term) will I lose everything?
I just want a plateau... something to start with.

Main concern is ......what will happen after i stop taking it?
 

louis netman

Hall of Fame
No on the creatine, bro! Two groin tears two years in a row, both after a 2 week creatine regimen...After almost 10 months of taking it easy, I'm still not 100%.
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
Thanks for all the replies so far

I'm pretty thin and been working out but no significant gains. So, if I use creatine, my muscle will be loaded with water, thus making it bigger. But after I stop using creatine (I definitely dont plan on using it for long term) will I lose everything?
I just want a plateau... something to start with.

Main concern is ......what will happen after i stop taking it?

How long have you been working out, and how much have you gained?

With a good diet, good training program and good rest & recuperation, people with average genetic should be able to gain between 0.5 - 1 pound of muscle per month.

If you don't gain that much, the first thing you should look is your diet & training program.

As I have said before, if you have a bad diet, bad training program and bad R&R, creatine will not help you gain muscle.

Having said that, if you gain 5 pounds on creatine in 6 weeks, you will lose the majority of that gain when you are off creatine.

It's like doing weight training. You can gain 10 pounds of muscle in one year while lifting weight, but you will lose that gain after you stop doing it for 3-6 months.
 

fearless1

Rookie
Thanks for all the replies so far

I'm pretty thin and been working out but no significant gains. So, if I use creatine, my muscle will be loaded with water, thus making it bigger. But after I stop using creatine (I definitely dont plan on using it for long term) will I lose everything?
I just want a plateau... something to start with.

Main concern is ......what will happen after i stop taking it?

Creatine use alone is NOT meant to be used for permanent muscle gains per se. Protien (as well as carbs and fat) in the right amounts at the right time of day is the nutrient that contributes the most to permanent muscle gains. The creatine helps with better protien absorbtion/synthesis, facilitates "energy utilization" during the workout...few other good things...hence the need to use BOTH creatine and protien supplemention to achieve more permanent muscle gains. Think of creatine as an octane booster additive for your car's protien gasoline....you still need the gasoline to run the car because you won't get far just on octane booster.

...I know Ano can explain this better than I can...
 
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tricky

Hall of Fame
Main concern is ......what will happen after i stop taking it?

You'll lose some of your water weight and look a little smaller. You don't lose "muscle" (i.e. protein content of muscle) per se, and realistically your size fluctuates anyway with your daily activity and eating/hydration levels.
I personally think using creatine for its immediate cosmetic effect, rather than for athletic-performance goals, is the wrong idea. For bodybuilders, creatine facilitates your program and your food intake.

Basic questions you gotta ask:

1) Are you lifting heavier weights than last month?

2) Are you eating enough AND more than last month? Are you sure? Are you absolutely f***ing sure? No, really, are you eating enough food?

3) Does your routine have any of the following: squats, dips/bench, deadlift, Olympic Lift, freeweight rows?

4) Are you hitting bodyparts at least twice a week?

5) Do you take breaks when you plateau?

If your plan is missing any of the top 5, go back and take care of it first. No point in going further until the basics are there. Would you give a 300lbs 5-foot woman a wonderbra?
 
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