If you are into bodybuilding or athletic performance, chances are you’ve heard of creatine. Creatine is a popular sports supplement that is known to improve strength, endurance, and muscle mass. However, there is a lot of confusion about whether the gains from creatine are permanent or temporary.
In this article, we will explore the science behind creatine and whether the gains are permanent or temporary.
Table of Contents
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a natural compound that is found in meat and fish. It is also produced by the human body, mainly in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Creatine is involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the main source of energy for muscle contractions. Creatine supplements are used to increase the amount of creatine in the muscles.
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine works by increasing the amount of phosphocreatine in the muscles. Phosphocreatine is a molecule that is used to regenerate ATP during high-intensity exercise. By increasing the amount of phosphocreatine in the muscles, creatine can help to improve strength, power, and endurance during high-intensity exercise.
Benefits of Creatine
Creatine has been extensively researched and has been shown to provide several benefits for athletes and bodybuilders.
Some of the benefits of creatine include:
Improved strength and power
Increased muscle mass
Improved brain function
Temporary or Permanent Gains?
The question of whether creatine gains are permanent or temporary is a common one. The answer is that it depends on the type of gain. Creatine can provide both temporary and permanent gains.
Creatine and Muscle Mass
Several studies have investigated the effects of creatine on muscle mass. One study found that creatine supplementation increased muscle mass by an average of 2.2 pounds (1 kg) in the first week of use. However, the gains were not permanent. When the participants stopped taking creatine, they lost the muscle mass that they had gained.
Another study found that creatine supplementation increased muscle mass by an average of 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) over 12 weeks. When the participants stopped taking creatine, they lost some of the muscle mass that they had gained but not all of it. The participants were able to maintain some of the gains even after they stopped taking creatine.
Creatine and Strength Gains
Creatine has been shown to improve strength gains in several studies. One study found that creatine supplementation increased strength by an average of 8% over 12 weeks. The strength gains were maintained even after the participants stopped taking creatine.
Creatine and Endurance Performance
Creatine has also been shown to improve endurance performance in some studies. One study found that creatine supplementation improved endurance performance by 5% to 15%. However, other studies have found no significance.
Creatine Loading and Maintenance Phase
When using creatine supplements, it is recommended to go through a loading phase for the first week or two. During the loading phase, a higher dose of creatine is taken to saturate the muscles with creatine. After the loading phase, a maintenance phase is done where a smaller dose of creatine is taken to maintain the levels in the muscles.
Side Effects of Creatine
While creatine is generally safe and well-tolerated, there are some potential side effects to be aware of.
These can include:
Kidney damage (in rare cases)
Who Should Use Creatine
Creatine is most commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders who want to improve their performance and gain muscle mass. However, it can also be useful for older adults who want to improve their muscle strength and function.
How to Take Creatine
Creatine can be taken in several different forms, including powder, capsules, and tablets. It is typically taken before or after a workout, or at any other time of day. The dosing and timing of creatine supplementation can vary depending on the individual and their goals.
Supplements to Combine with Creatine
Creatine can be combined with other supplements to enhance its effects.
Some common supplements that are often taken with creatine include:
BCAA (branched-chain amino acid)
Myths about Creatine
There are several myths and misconceptions about creatine that are worth addressing.
Some common myths about creatine include:
Creatine is a steroid (it’s not)
Creatine is bad for your kidneys (only in rare cases)
Creatine causes dehydration (it can increase water retention but doesn’t cause dehydration)
The gains from creatine can be both temporary and permanent. While the muscle mass gained during the first week of use is typically not permanent, gains made over a longer period can be maintained even after stopping creatine supplementation.
What happens when you stop taking creatine?
When you stop taking creatine, your body’s creatine levels gradually return to normal. The benefits associated with creatine, such as increased strength and muscle mass, may decrease over time.
Is creatine bad for you?
No, creatine is generally safe and widely used as a dietary supplement. It has been extensively researched and shown to have numerous benefits for muscle strength and performance.
Is creatine a steroid?
No, creatine is not a steroid. It is a natural compound found in the body and in certain foods. It is commonly used as a dietary supplement to enhance athletic performance and promote muscle growth.
How long should I take creatine?
The duration of creatine supplementation varies, but a common approach is to take it for 8-12 weeks, followed by a break of 4-6 weeks.
When to take creatine?
It is generally recommended to take creatine before or after a workout. Taking it before can enhance performance while taking it after aids in muscle recovery.