Creatine Vs. No Creatine: Is This Gym Supplement Worth It?
Building muscle and staying lean is more than just hard work and dedication. There’s a science behind it all, and creatine is a part of this process.
Creatine is renowned for helping people increase muscle mass. It’s very effective, and along with the proper diet, you’ll be able to see results quickly.
Creatine is easy to consume as you can take it in powder form or get it naturally from food. If you choose to supplement creatine, you’ll need to be disciplined and take it correctly to see results.
Although it works well at enhancing workouts and increasing muscle mass for many people, is creatine right for you? In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of creatine vs. no creatin, and how creatine works.
What Is Creatine
Before we discuss the benefits of creatine vs. no creatine, let’s explain exactly what this supplement is.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that can be found in the body. It’s an amino acid; most of it can be found in the muscles, while the remainder is retained within the brain and the renal system.
Ultimately, creatine helps build your muscles while increasing strength and endurance. It’s essentially an energy source for your muscles during exercise.
Although there are some downsides to taking creatine, the benefits outweigh these potential negatives.
What Does Creatine Do to Your Body?
When you consume a creatine supplement, it’s stored in your muscles. This storage increases to the maximum amount that your body is able to retain.
This storage processes into additional energy for a more refined workout, enhances your performance while you train, and provides a boost in energy.
Creatine also allows for:
- Better recovery
- Leaner muscles
- An increase in strength.
There are some surprising benefits to taking creatine. These benefits can help you maintain optimal health within certain areas of the body long-term.
Combats Muscle Loss in Elderly Adults
For those 60 and older, it means poor quality of life, increased chances of death, and physical disabilities.
However, creatine can help aid in developing and strengthening the muscles. For example, one study showed that elderly adults who weight trained between two and three times a week for up to 52 weeks saw an increase in weight gain and lean muscle mass.
Supports Several Muscle Functions
There are several functions that creatine supports and enhances when it comes to muscle growth.
For instance, creatine helps to increase the amount of water in muscles, called cell volumization. Cell volumization helps to enlarge the muscles, and if your muscles don’t contain enough fluids, they won’t be able to grow.
Creatine also can change several cellular pathways, equating to the growth of new muscles. One instance is how it enhances the process of new protein formation, which helps new muscle development.
May Improve Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease can cause various debilitating symptoms, including:
- Speech impairment
- Muscle function loss
- Death of brain cells
Creatine helps improve mitochondrial function, thereby helping improve the daily functioning and overall strength of people with Parkinson’s disease.
Combats Neurological Illnesses
A common issue in neurological diseases is the decrease in the chemical phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine is found in the brain and muscles and is a phosphate compound.
Creatine assists in increasing phosphocreatine levels, decreasing the progression of neurological illnesses.
One study showed that phosphocreatine levels increased 72% after creatine consumption in mice infected with Huntington’s Disease. It was also shown that this increase helped achieve a balance in day-to-day function. In addition, cell death also decreased by 25%.
Although creatine is beneficial, there are a few cons to consuming it. Some are more serious than others, but weighing them before consumption is best.
Creatine is shown to be associated with irregular heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia.
Creatine enhances your workout and duration; therefore, your heartbeat speeds up to balance out the amount of activity your body is producing.
Although an irregular heartbeat isn’t always dangerous or a cause for concern, it is if you have underlying medical conditions. An irregular heartbeat while taking creatine can also indicate an imbalance of electrolytes or dehydration.
Always ensure you’re drinking plenty of fluids and are eating a well-balanced diet while performing strenuous exercises and taking additional supplements. It’s also essential to speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about taking creatine.
A common side effect of taking creatine supplements is bloating. While this side effect isn’t necessarily dangerous, it can cause discomfort.
If you experience bloating on a creatine supplement, you can try lowering your dose to less than 10 grams.
Muscle Cramping and Dehydration
Creatine stores water within the muscles from other areas in the body. When you consume creatine, water is held within the body, but, despite this, you must ensure you’re drinking enough water.
A side effect of taking creatine is muscle cramps. Muscle cramps typically occur when dehydration has set in due to low water consumption. So, staying on top of your water intake while consuming creatine to combat both is essential.
Can You Grow Muscles Without Creatine?
In short, yes, you can grow your muscles without taking creatine supplements. Growing muscles without taking creatine supplements is possible by consuming creatine through natural sources.
Creatine is already in our bodies; however, to grow your muscles, you need to ensure you’re getting enough.
Although creatine is naturally produced in the liver, many people also increase their creatine intake by eating foods such as fish and red meat. But, plant-based sources of creatine are synthetic, meaning vegans or vegetarians will easily find a creatine supplement.
How To Build Muscles Without Creatine
To build muscles without creatine, you need to eat the right foods and train in a way that will help adequately grow and recover your muscles.
Most professionals suggest you consume between 1 and 2 grams of creatine daily. However, studies show that people need a maximum of 1-3 grams of creatine every day to keep up adequate amounts within the body for muscle growth and replenishment.
Creatine consumption is split into two equal parts. You get half from your body producing it naturally and the other half from food or supplements. That said, consuming at least 1-2 grams daily is sufficient.
If you don’t want to supplement with creatine, pay attention to the following factors.
A proper diet is critical if you’re looking to gain muscle without creatine supplements. If your diet is not where it should be, it will be tough to see solid results.
Here’s a breakdown of what dietary factors to pay attention to if you decide you don’t want to supplement with creatine.
First, you need to ensure you increase your calorie intake. One pound of muscle equates to 500 calories. Therefore, you should be consuming 500 additional calories each day, meaning a total of 3500 calories each week.
This calorie surplus enables you to build leaner tissues and assist in muscle recovery by helping destroyed tissues grow back.
Next, you want to ensure you’re consuming enough protein daily. Protein is a great energy source that keeps you satiated.
Protein is critical for building and repairing muscles, but you want to be careful not to over-consume. Overconsuming protein can lead to several side effects, including:
- Kidney damage
Ideally, for every pound in the weight, you need to eat 0.8g of protein. For best results, people who eat meat tend to eat animal sources of protein that are lean and low in fat.
Vegetarians and vegans get their protein from sources such as:
Lastly, make sure you’re consuming enough carbohydrates. You don’t want to only focus on protein and forget carbs. Carbs are fantastic energy sources that will help you power through your workouts.
Professionals recommend consuming 1.2 to 1.5g of carbs per kilo of your body weight if you’re doing rigorous training. Otherwise, in terms of portion sizes, it’s suggested that men have six to eight handfuls of carbs per day while women have around five handfuls.
Practical training plays a massive part in building muscle, and a proper diet helps you maintain your physique. So while you need to train to see great results, you must understand how to prepare for your workouts correctly.
Improper training can ultimately create counterproductivity. So, although you’re eating foods containing creatine or taking supplements, it won’t help if you train too much or too little.
It’s important to note that muscles only grow if you increase your training. So if you’re consistently remaining at the same amount of repetitions or not moving up in weights, your muscles won’t have a reason to get any bigger.
Recovery is equally important. Creatine helps your muscles recover, so it’s vital as you’re working out to consume enough creatine through foods if you’re not using a supplement.
Make sure that you train each muscle group once every five days. You also don’t want to train more than two parts at once. As you gain consistency with each area of your body, you want to increase your weight slowly.
Here are a few tips on how to successfully increase your weight:
- Stay with one weight until you can do ten reps
- Pick a weight that isn’t too heavy
- Make sure the last two repetitions are the most difficult
It’s also essential to add some intensity to your workouts. These types of exercises can further promote muscle growth.
Interval training, compound movement, and using heavier weights can help you effectively gain muscle while recovering successfully.
There are other supplements besides creatine that you can take to help you effectively grow your muscles.
BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids can significantly assist in building your muscles. Amino acids are the foundation of protein but remain inside the liver for a while.
This storage process can take some time, so it will take longer to build your muscles. The BCAAs job is to help speed up this process by quickly going to the forces instead of staying in the liver.
BCAAs also help build bigger muscles and increase strength, much like creatine.
Whey protein helps build muscle because it stimulates protein synthesis. It also helps to repair skin and tissue from injuries or instances like surgery.
Whey protein ultimately adds that extra boost of protein your body needs. As you tear your muscles when working out, protein rebuilds them. Thus, whey protein makes your muscles bigger and provides nutritional value for your body.
Creatine is proven to work, and it’s likely to consistently produce excellent results for those seeking to become more muscular. However, you must understand that whether you consume creatine naturally or through supplements, you must follow the correct diet and stick to a consistent exercise routine.
Slowly progressing in weights is a key to how well your muscles grow while on creatine. Rest and recovery are also crucial since your muscles need a break. This break after tearing them is what helps produce larger muscles.
There are various benefits to taking creatine vs. no creatine. Creatine allows you to get leaner while supporting muscle function by providing a powerful energy system to your body.
But, as previously mentioned, you must also understand the potential risks of taking creatine. Ensure you’ve done your research before taking any supplements, and consult your doctor for any concerns.
Don’t consume more than the recommended amount for your weight, as doing so could lead to serious health problems.
If you have any underlying health conditions, it’s also best to consult with your doctor before you begin taking creatine supplements.