Creatine: Is it safe? What are the dietary considerations of using it?
Instead of offering opinions, let's go to the source. WebMd has a section on their site that defines usage and FAQ about most vitamins/minerals/supplements. Read below an excerpt from WebMd or read the entire article here.
"Creatine is most commonly used for improving exercise performance and increasing muscle mass in athletes and older adults. There is some science supporting the use of creatine in improving the athletic performance of young, healthy people during brief high-intensity activity such as sprinting. Because of this, creatine is often used as a dietary supplement to improve muscle strength and athletic performance. In the U.S., a majority of sports nutrition supplements, which total $2.7 billion in annual sales, contain creatine.
Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and professional sports. However, the NCAA no longer allows colleges and universities to supply creatine to their students with school funds. Students are permitted to buy creatine on their own and the NCAA has no plans to ban creatine unless medical evidence indicates that it is harmful. With current testing methods, detection of supplemental creatine use would not be possible."
As you can see, creatine is extremely popular. It is so popular that WebMd states in the except above that most sports supplements sold in the US contain it. But, what are the important dietary considerations that you should know prior to using creatine?
1.) Creatine redirects water into muscle cells. Therefore, it is very important to maintain hydrated when taking creatine. If you take creatine, you will need to intake more water that if you don't. Dehydration is a serious concern.
2.) Along with dehydration comes the depletion of electrolytes. Keeping fully hydrated and also keeping your electrolytes in balance can be a trick balancing act. Many creatine supplements come with added electrolytes in the drink. Just be sure to check what you are ingesting before you buy.
3.) Creatine is often paired with caffeine for optimal performance. Again, DEHYDRATION is the concern. As creatine redirects water into muscle and caffeine is a diuretic, you will have to significantly increase your water intake to remain hydrated.
As you can see, the most predominant dietary concern about creatine is dehydration. Damage to kidneys, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance are all serious issues that can be caused by improperly using creatine.
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