Creatine Myths Busted
So much has been said about creatine that it’s not surprising that there is some misinformation out there, both in the gym and online. In fact, a lot of the most common Google searches to do with creatine supplements seem to be confused as to what it actually is! With that in mind, it’s understandable if you’re not sure what creatine is made of, how to take it, or whether you can get in trouble for using it. To help you out we’ve answered some of the most common questions people asked in order to clear up some of the confusion.
Is creatine vegan friendly?
Yes! This misunderstanding probably came about because the main dietary sources of creatine are meat, fish, and other animal products. The vast majority of creatine products (and definitely all AMSport products) are made from synthetic creatine, so animal products are not used as a source. It’s a little more complicated than this, but creatine is essentially a methylated compound of the amino acids glycine and arginine, so producing it in a vegan friendly manner is actually easier than extracting it from animal tissue. Additionally, since vegetables do not contain creatine, vegetarians and vegans generally have lower amounts of creatine stores in their muscles and actually tend to benefit more from taking creatine supplements than those that eat meat. So for all the vegetarians and vegans out there looking to improve their performance, creatine might actually be the best supplement to use!
Is creatine a steroid?
Nope! As we’ve just seen, creatine is essentially an amino acid compound so here’s no way you can get into any trouble for taking it. When people talk about steroids and athletes they’re usually referring to anabolic steroids, manufactured drugs that have a similar effect on the body to testosterone. The myth that creatine is a steroid might have started because they both help to increase your endurance and build muscle mass, but creatine is legal, and more importantly, much safer.
Do you need to load creatine for it to have an effect?
There is no evidence that loading creatine has any benefits in the long run. In the past some people advised people taking creatine supplements to separate their intake into ‘loading’ and ‘maintenance’ phases where they would take massive amounts of creatine initially before returning to a normal amount in the maintenance phase. Lots of studies have been done on creatine using a loading protocol and they’ve all come to the same conclusion: loading creatine isn’t necessary, and the benefits you see from it might not be real. Creatine works best once you’ve reached a saturation point of phosphocreatine in your muscles, so loading will mean you take less time to get there. However, it also causes you to retain even more water, so even though you’ll see yourself get bigger faster, a lot of that will just be water weight. Taking a smaller dose for a longer period of time means it’ll take longer for you to reach that saturation point, but after a little while the differences between people who loaded and those that didn’t are minimal.
Do you need to cycle creatine?
The idea of cycling supplements is a bit of a throwback and might have come around because of the confusion about whether or not creatine is a steroid and whether or not you need to load it. People who do take steroids need to cycle them because they have a lot of dangerous side effects, but there is no similar danger to prolonged creatine usage. Even if you did choose to cycle off of it your body would still be making it, and because creatine works best once your muscles are saturated in it, cycling off of creatine might only make it less effective initially when you choose to cycle back on. Cycling creatine can be a good idea if you’re going to be taking a break from any explosive exercises because you won’t really be using it as an energy source, but it’s definitely not something you need to do.
If you’re interested in reading up on the basics of creatine you can check out our introductory article here, or if you’re more interested in learning specifically about how creatine can help bodybuilding go here. And as always, keep coming back to learn more about your supplements!