I’ve heard conflicting stories about creatine; some people say that it is effective for enhancing athletic performance, while others say that it is potentially hamful to the kidneys. What are your thoughts?

One of the hottest sports nutrition supplement on the market is creatine monohydrate. With well-known professional athletes touting the benefits of creatine supplementation it’s no wonder you have this question. Before taking this, or any supplement, you should always talk with your medical doctor.
The average person working out in the gym will likely only see weight gain with creatine supplementation (majority is water weight). It needs to be combined with a good strength training program if increased muscle mass is the goal. See the virtual trainer for a good strength training program. It doesn’t work for everyone but the athletes that seem to improve performance are those performing short bursts of high intensity exercise (sprinters, weight lifters, football players, etc.). Long term side effects need further investigation.

Researchers believe the increase in weight is due to increased water retention and possibly from the increase in lean body mass. There have been anecdotal reports of cramping, muscle strains, pulls, diarrhea, dehydration, and headache. It is imperative to understand that long term side effects of creatine supplementation are unknown at this time. Also, creatine supplementation is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18 since no one knows the effects that creatine supplementation may have on a growing body. It is also imperative to stress the importance of proper training at a younger age so athletes do not think about supplements for improved performance before training.

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