What Are The Benefits And Risks Of Creatine Supplements?

Question: What are the benefits and risks of creatine supplements?

Answer: Creatine can actually be a really great supplement to help with muscle growth, gaining strength and also muscle recovery. The risks associated with creatine are actually quite mild. Anecdotally, people will say they have more muscle cramping, maybe more muscle pulls, dehydration, but when creatine is studied in a clinically controlled setting there's very little difference from the groups using creatine versus not as far as the side effects. So it's one of our safest supplements we can use.

Using creatine before your workout will help you increase that intensity and that power of your workout. If you put creatine after your workout it will actually help you recover quicker from that workout so that your next workout is fresher. So if your goal is to get bigger and stronger and lift more weight you would want to take creatine before, but if you're a triathlete maybe who's training twice a day, putting creatine after that morning workout can actually help you train better that night.

The other good benefit of creatine that a lot of people can appreciate is that the immediate response you see is your muscles hold more water. So if your goal is to get bigger, to get stronger, you're gonna notice a difference in the appearance of the size and shape of your muscles even within the first week of taking it. But don't let yourself be fooled, you're not immediately that much stronger. You're just holding the fluid. So as soon as you stop taking the creatine, of course that's gonna go away, but it is a nice little side effect right when you start taking it.

Molly Kimball, R.D., Ochsners Elmwood Fitness Center
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