Did you know that creatine monohydrate is the most extensively studied supplement on the market? Handy for us since we’re diving into the pros and cons of creatine today!
Let’s start with what you know.
What do you think of when you think of the pros and cons of creatine?
Lots of people might think, “pro, aides in muscle growth.”
Those same people might think, “con, weight gain.”
But what those people might not realize is that the pros and cons of creatine go much, much deeper than that.
So let’s dive in shall we?
Let’s start with the cons of creatine…or shall we say, the perceived cons.
The *perceived* Cons
Let’s address the biggie first: weight gain.
Notice that I keep saying weight gain and not fat gain?
That’s because yes, initially, (male athletes in particular) report an increase in weight. However, studies have shown that creatine does not increase fat mass.
Rather, the weight gain reported is likely a result of the initial water retention observed for the first couple weeks of creatine supplementation. This retention usually begins within the first ten days and is short term. It usually levels out within a couple weeks.
There are a lot of people out there talking about the potential damage to your kidneys that processing creatine monohydrate can cause.
However, studies have show no adverse affects to liver and kidneys in people who don’t already have a predisposition to kidney disease. This is especially true when creatine is taken in the recommended doses.
Muscle Cramping and Dehydration
I might sound like a broken record, but guess what? There is no scientific evidence that creatine causes muscle cramping and dehydration.
In fact, due to the initial water retention mentioned earlier, creatine has been studied as a means to hyper-hydrate athletes performing in hot and humid environments and the hypothesis was confirmed! That means when you’re castmates are fading on that outdoor stage in Florida, you’ll still be flying high!
I hope that at this point you’re starting to see a trend here.
The reality is, the cons of creatine are basically non-existent.
The only real one being that, because it’s a supplement that relies upon saturation, it’s most effective if taken every single day. But don’t worry, even missing a day or two merely delays saturation and decreases efficacy. It does not make consumption of the supplement useless.
And as for timing? Consistency is more important than timing. I like to mix mine into my morning protein shake, that way it’s worked into my daily routine!
So when considering the pros and cons of creatine, I think we have deduced that there really aren’t any cons.
I suppose that means it’s time to discuss the pros.
The Pros of Creatine
Let’s just start by dropping this little fact maintained by the International Society of Sports Nutrition:
“Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes with the intent of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.”
“Creatine monohydrate supplementation is not only safe, but has been reported to have a number of therapeutic benefits in healthy and diseased populations ranging from infants to the elderly. There is no compelling scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate (up to 30 g/day for 5 years) has any detrimental effects on otherwise healthy individuals or among clinical populations who may benefit from creatine supplementation.”
So now that we know that. Let’s talk about why, when studying the pros and cons of creatine supplementation, scientists agree that the pros outweigh the cons.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine monohydrate supplementation is the fastest method of increasing creatine stores in muscles.
You see, a normal person needs to consume about 1-3 grams of creatine per day. Athletes in intense training (yes, that’s you, dancer!) need to consume 5-10 grams of creatine a day.
So you might be thinking, “Okay, but can’t I consume it naturally in my diet?”
While the answer to this is technically yes, let me give you a reference for just how much you’d have to eat in order to reach your daily creatine goals.
Creatine is found in animal proteins. Beef, pork, tuna, salmon, and cod all naturally contain creatine, but the only contain 1.4-2.3 grams of creatine per pound.
If you’re an athlete, that means you’d be looking at consuming at least two pounds of meat per day. Not very efficient and kind of…yucky?
So do yourself a favor and help your system (and your macros) out by taking a creatine monohydrate supplement.
It’s Not Just for the Bros
Women in particular might find this fact interesting considering the fact that women have significantly less creatine stores than men. 70-80% less. And creatine supplementation can offer efficient support for women’s mood and cognition, as well as body composition and muscle growth.
It’s so beneficial for women that some scientists even recommend it for women during their periods, and peri and post-menopause!
It’s Useful for All Activities
When talking about the pros and cons of creatine, people assume we are referring to teen and pro-athletes looking to optimize their resistance training sessions.
However, Creatine monohydrate is shown that creatine can be beneficial for all types of activities. What’s more, creatine has been shown to aide in muscle recovery, with athletes using creatine supplements reporting less muscle damage, inflammation, and muscle soreness.
Now that we know the pros and cons of creatine I think we can all agree that a creatine monohydrate supplement could be incredibly beneficial for dancers.
From promoting faster recovery, to supporting performance in hot humid environments, to supporting cognition and mood, the cons definitely outweigh the nearly non-existent negatives.
But you may still have a few questions. Let’s address those before you leave.
I’ve heard Creatine Has a “Loading Phase” What’s that about?
In short, the choice is yours in this area.
Increasing the amount of creatine you ingest for the first 5-7 days of supplementation might speed saturation and help you see the benefits faster.
However, research shows that you don’t need to “load” creatine to reep it’s benefits. Taking a consistent 3-5 grams per day is going to be effective for increasing intramuscular creatine stores, muscle accretion, and muscle performance and recovery.
Alright, I’m sold. But what kind do I get?
Because creatine has so many benefits there are loads of options out there. And while some forms of creatine might advertise that they are more soluble than others (yummier to drink). 100% pure, Creatine Monohydrate is the most optimal choice when selecting a creatine supplement.
So, What do YOU think?
It can be surprising when you learn something new about a supplement. For years, I assumed creatine was for the bros and the weight lifting competitors.
But now, I’ve learned that it can aid in injury recovery, muscle recovery, mental cognition, and mood? Why oh why did it take so long?
Probably because it’s only within the last decade that dancers have started caring for themselves as professional athletes.
So what will you do? Are you going to give creatine a try? If you do, let us know! And if you have more questions about it, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to offer our expertise and nutritional guidance, because at the end of the day, we want you to succeed!