Is it worth it?
If you’re involved in any kind of explosive activity whether that’s lifting weights, sprinting or playing rugby then the answer is yes.
What is it?
Creatine Monohydrate is the single most researched supplement out there. It has had a bad reputation in the past and was implicated in the deaths of three American College wrestlers within a six week period. What the news stories at the time failed to pick up on was that part of their strenuous fat-loss routine at the time involved doing high intensity intervals on a stationary bike wearing rubber suits and refusing liquids. One of these took place in a room heated to 92F/33C. The causes of their deaths were dehydration and kidney failure and it just happened that they were using creatine at the time.
This all happened in 1997 and since then creatine has suffered from negative press.
Creatine is a mixture of amino acids that is naturally stored in skeletal muscle and can be found in whole food sources like red meat. It can enhance performance by increasing power output in fast, powerful movements.
It does this by donating its phosphate molecule to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) in order to re-synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
ATP is the bodies main energy currency. It consists of one adenosine and 3 phosphate molecules. There are bonds between the molecules and when the bond between the 2nd and 3rd phosphate molecule is broken, energy is released, allowing muscular contraction. Creatine can then assist to re-synthesize ADP to ATP by donating its phosphate molecule.
This supply is finite which is why it will only fuel short, powerful bursts of activity.
There are risks involved with supplementing creatine and it is these risks that were the focus of the resulting fall-out from the teenage wrestler deaths in 1997.
It has been known to cause kidney damage with prolonged use and high doses (>5g daily) in people with pre-existing kidney disorders. On the other hand a study was carried out in 2003 on athletes who took creatine for 21 months with no impact on renal function whatsoever.
Multiple other studies and reviews have been carried out with the same, positive result.
The conclusion that I’ve come to is; it’s safe and it works so why wouldn’t you take it if you’re goal is to gain muscle mass or increase power? If you have a pre-existing kidney disorder then stay on the safe side and avoid supplementation.