Fitness enthusiasts, keep these dosages and duration in mind when consuming creatine

Creatine supplementation has gained a lot of popularity among athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and casual gym goers looking to improve their performance and muscle gains. But what exactly is creatine?

Akshita Reddy, senior nutritionist at Athreya Multispeciality Hospital, explains that creatine is a naturally occurring compound that is found in small amounts in certain foods and is also produced by the body. It is stored in muscles and used for energy production during high-intensity, short-duration activities such as sprinting and weightlifting.

In recent years, he admits, athletes and people involved in resistance training have begun using it as a dietary supplement to improve performance, increase muscle mass and improve recovery.

One of the most researched supplements, creatine has been hailed for its effectiveness in increasing strength and endurance. However, as with any dietary supplement, concerns have been raised about its safety and potential health implications.

Potential Health Risks of Creatine Supplements

When it comes to short-term health risks, Reddy says some people may experience digestive issues, such as stomach bloating or discomfort, dehydration, and muscle cramps. These effects are generally mild and can often be mitigated with adequate hydration, he says.

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Long-term supplementation has been less extensively studied, he reveals, but current evidence does not strongly link creatine with serious health risks in healthy individuals. He adds, concerns have been raised about potential impacts on kidney function, but research in healthy individuals has not confirmed significant adverse effects on kidney health at recommended doses. Continued monitoring and investigation is necessary.

creatine One of the most researched supplements, creatine has been hailed for its effectiveness in increasing strength and endurance. (Source: Freepik)

Specific groups to be wary of

While creatine has so far been considered generally safe for consumption, Reddy says specific groups need to be careful.

Due to the lack of sufficient research on the effects of creatine during pregnancy, it is generally recommended that pregnant women avoid supplementationshe says.

Additionally, the impact on growing bodies is not fully understood, and while it is generally considered safe, teens should use creatine only under professional guidance.

For those taking medication, it is important to note that creatine may interact with certain medications or medical treatments, especially those affecting liver or kidney function. Reddy says that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or diuretics, when taken along with creatine, could increase the risk of kidney damage.

Those with pre-existing kidney, liver or heart problems should be especially cautious, he warns, and consult a health care provider for concerns about possible additional strain on those organs.

Recommended dosages and duration

When taking creatine, it is important to understand the specific dosages and duration of creatine supplementation for optimal safety and effectiveness. Reddy advises people to observe the following:

* Loading Phase: Some regimens recommend a “loading phase” of 20 grams per day for 57 days, followed by a “maintenance phase” of 35 grams per day.

*Maintenance phase: Alternatively, skipping the loading phase and consuming 35 grams per day has been shown to increase muscle creatine stores within a few weeks.

Duration may vary depending on goals, but long-term continuous use (beyond 12 months) should be approached with caution, and periodic consultation with a healthcare provider to monitor indicators of health, recommend.

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