Creatine may help you amp up your muscle power! Know all about it

An oral health supplement, creatine helps with muscle growth and development. Read on to know its benefits and side effects.
Creatine is a good supplement for muscle growth and development. Image courtesy: Freepik
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 27 Apr 2024, 18:15 pm IST
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Creatine is a natural source of energy that helps your skeletal muscles flex (contract). It helps create a steady supply of energy in your muscles so they can keep working, especially while you’re exercising. Sports enthusiasts, athletes and gym aficionados often consume creatine supplements to boost strength and improve performance, but it may benefit other categories of people too.

About half of your body’s supply of creatine (1 to 2 grams/day) comes from diet, especially protein-rich foods such as red meat, seafood, animal milk. Our body produces the other half naturally in the liver, kidneys and pancreas. They deliver about 95 percent of the creatine to your skeletal muscles to use during physical activity. The rest goes to your heart, brain and other tissues. While creatine supplements have many benefits, there are also certain risks associated with its consumption.

What is creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that can be found in muscles. The Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that 95 percent of creatine is found in the muscles. This is stored as Phosphocreatine. When this increases, the energy in your body cells increases as well, and this is the main role of creatine, reports this study, published in Sports Health. It provides our body with energy needed for fast movements and benefits the muscles. For one to improve their performance in sports, get muscle strength or to increase overall power, they can use creatine supplements in addition to what many athletes or fitness fanatics do. Creatine can be found in red meat as well as sea food as well.

Health benefits of creatine

Here are few of the benefits of creatine:

1. Helps the muscles

There are a number of ways that creatine consumption can help the muscles in our body. It can lead to muscle growth, reports this study published in Nutrients. It can also repair muscles, reduce muscle breakdown. It can also increase the hydration in cells by undergoing something called the cell volumization effect, a process that leads to muscle growth, reports a study published in International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

2. Helps enhance strength and performance

When it comes to muscle strength and endurance, creatine can help you build that, states this study in Nutrients. A study, in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, states that creatine helped cyclists get energy during their final sprint. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports, published a study that states that creatine also helps in jumping and sprinting.

3. Helps with brain health

Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, that are neurodegenerative in nature can be treated with creatine supplements. In fact, even ALS can be treated, reports this study, published in Springer. It also helps with the treatment of epilepsy as well as traumatic brain injuries. It can also aid short term memory, reports this study, published by the National Institute of Health.

4. Overall health and development

When it comes to heart health, creatine is great for improving and regulating the functions of the heart. It helps in recouping after a stroke as well, reports this study, published in Amino Acids. It also helps with liver disease as well as regulate blood sugar levels.

Creatine consumption happens in phases and consumption will also vary during this time. Image courtesy: Freepik

How is creatine available?

Creatine supplements exist as powders, tablets, capsules, liquids and energy bars, explains nutritionist Veena V. The most popular and well researched creatine supplement is called Creatine Monohydrate. Not only is it the safest, it is also easily available. This study, published in Ophthamology, states that Monohydrate, even if consumed for a two to five years is safe, and has no side effects.

You can mix it with water, juice, or even smoothies. Regardless of the form or drink you choose, try to spread out your creatine intake throughout the day. Staying hydrated throughout the day is important as you take creatine supplements because it helps in better absorption. It is also available in the form of capsules and gummy bears.

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How to use creatine?

When it comes to using creatine, you need to divide your consumption into phases. There are three phases: loading phase, transition phase and a maintenance phase.

  • Loading phase goes on for 5-7 days. In this phase, people have around 20 grams of creatine per day. This helps to increase their muscle creatine stores.
  • In the transition phase, you will have 3-5 grams of creatine, once a day.
  • This is often followed by a maintenance phase where a lower dose of around 3-5 grams per day is continued to be taken to sustain elevated creatine levels.

How much creatine can you have every day?

The phase in which you are currently, will determine your dosage. However, individual needs may vary, and it’s important to consult healthcare professionals for personalized dosage recommendations based on your body’s requirements.

What to remember before starting creatine supplements?

Before starting creatine supplements, it is important to remember a few things.

  • The first step is to consult with a doctor. You need to make sure that creatine supplementation is safe for you. Also inform the doctor about any underlying conditions.
  • It is imperative to understand the right dosage suited to your needs.
  • Remember to stay hydrated while taking this supplement. It may cause water retention in muscles as well.
  • Keep in mind that taking creatine supplements works best when you pair them with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Creatine is good for workouts. However, remember to hydrate well. Image courtesy: Freepik

Side effects of creatine

Listed below are the side effects of taking creatine:

  • Digestive issues: There can be instances of bloating, stomach cramps, or diarrhoea when starting creatine. These will be mild and powering through might help you.
  • Dehydration: Creatine is making sure all the water is going into your muscles. Therefore, it is very important that you are hydrating well.
  • Kidney and liver strain: Creatine can put some strain on your kidneys and liver, although this is rare. However, if you have a pre-existing kidney or liver issue, then avoid it.
  • Weight gain: Creatine can cause a slight increase in water weight as more water is stored in the muscles. This isn’t fat gain, but it might be noticeable on the scale.
  • Muscle cramps: While uncommon, some people might experience muscle cramps, especially if not properly hydrated.


Is it safe to take creatine?

Yes, it is safe for healthy adults, but it has to be used appropriately. It is also important to consult a doctor before starting it. Creatine can react with certain medications. Also, proper hydration is crucial while taking it.

Who should not take creatine?

Individuals with certain medical conditions, particularly kidney disease or issues related to kidney function, should avoid taking creatine supplements without consulting a healthcare professional. Also, if you are pregnant or are breastfeeding, then creatine supplementation should be avoided.

Can creatine be applied to the skin?

Application of creatine on the skin is uncommon, as its principal use is as an oral dietary supplement. Nonetheless, certain skincare products incorporate creatine due to its purported advantages for skin health. “Creatine is believed to possess hydrating qualities and may contribute to enhancing skin elasticity and firmness,” says dermatologist Dr Priyanka Kuri.

Anjuri Nayar Singh

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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