Readers’ Forum: Fueling athletic potential: advocating for creatine monohydrate’s practical benefits

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In the world of sports and overall health, getting stronger can feel like climbing a tough hill. When I was growing up, I was immersed in sports, and my journey to gain muscle growth was a continuing challenge for me that resembled navigating challenging peaks and valleys of athletic pursuit. During my basketball off season, I stumbled upon Creatine Monohydrate (CrM), that showed promise in assisting me with my size and strength. However, there were various warnings for potential side effects across different articles often disagreeing with one another. Even my mom was very skeptical of this supplement, and this combination delayed my action to purchase it. Eventually I became impatient, and I gave CrM a shot. After only a month of consumption and weight training, I saw significant increases in performance, and I was led to do a deep dive into this strength building supplement.

Creatine Monohydrate is often lost in the hundreds of other supplements that “gym rats” use. What sets it apart is that fact that it is the most researched out of all supplements in the market today. The logic behind this supplement comes from the hundreds if not thousands of research and case studies. Studies show that those that are pursuing athletic performance in any kind –when taking creatine and exercise—will see an increase measure of strength and power without a significant increase in body fat (Pearson et al.). Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body and can also be obtained through food sources, particularly red meat. However, our body has more capability to absorb and integrate creatine in our bodies than we receive from food. Hence why a supplement was created. It comes in two different forms: capsules and powder. According to the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism’s study, there are many different varieties aiming for different results, but Creatine Monohydrate is the most researched and has proven to show the best results (Askow.) 

This stuff works within the body, aiding in ATP regeneration and assisting long-term and short-term muscle recovery. It also pulls water into our muscles and helps speed up muscle recovery. The more water your muscles can retain, the quicker and more effective the muscle recovery process will be. Some may view it as a shortcut; but it is a practical approach to furthering one’s athletic performances. It isn’t just for competitive athletes pursuing college or even professional status, but for anyone that includes a workout regimen in their weekly schedule. It is for anyone looking to improve their athleticism and overall strength –who doesn’t want that?

Alright, from the sound of it, some may think it is magic. It isn’t a magical solution; it’s a commitment. Once you pair this product with good ol’ exercise/resistance training, you can reap the benefits. Dr. Darren G. Burke’s study shows us that commitment to both CrM, and regular workouts will lead to gains in body mass and lean tissue (Burke et al., “The Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation”). Because creatine feeds into the muscles to help the recovery process and strengthen your muscles capabilities to work harder, it is important to implement some form of muscle development into your weekly schedule. It does not have to be every day, however it is crucial to be consistent in the weight room along with consumption. While the benefits may seem magical, it comes down to a commitment to a lifestyle that requires consistency that gets you real results. Gold Medalist Michael Johnson is one of thousands of athletes that claim creatine has enhanced their capabilities to compete in competition while 50% of NFL players claim to take creatine consistently (Hall).

Dr. Darren G. Burke and his associates performed a study regarding CrM’s effect combined with resistance training. They wanted to know how muscles adapted during 6 weeks of resistance training and creatine supplementing. They concluded that those that participate in resistance training combined with creatine had a greater increase in body mass and lean tissue than those that are on the placebo (Burke et al., “The Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation”). There are many studies just like this one, where 50 plus people (athletes, non-athletes, parents, young adults, etc.) were selected to become participants to help research further understand the effects of CrM. They all seemed to have had similar results in muscle growth, and strength increases.

I believe it isn’t just all about logic; it is ethical. For me, it is about endorsing a product that doesn’t just prove to be effective but aligns with the bigger picture regarding overall health and well-being that everyone with discipline strives for. It isn’t just a gym supplement; it’s a lifestyle choice that brings about real, tangible, results. It gets people out of bed to go exercise. It can serve as motivation.

While creatine is heavily used across every sport, many create false accusations from rumors they hear from friends and the internet (which both are always correct, right)? Critics try to cast doubt on this product. But when you shine the light of science on these doubts, they disappear, like shadows when the light turns on. Some critics argue that it just creates superficial gains with too many risks like hair loss, bloating, kidney issues, and stomach upsets. However, regarding the superficial gains, research suggests that the increase of muscle creatine content is in fact no superficial, but real and sustainable. While one study attempted to show that creatine leads to hair loss and kidney issues, researchers continue to show that those claims aren’t consistent with the hundreds of others that have been performed. Some individuals have claimed to have experienced upset stomachs after taking CrM. While this has proven to be caused by creatine, it is uncommon. For those that do experience this, a finer powder in monohydrate creatine called micronized creatine is designed to address digestive sensitivity (Riebl and Davy.) The international Society of Sports Nutrition position statement claims that there is no scientific evidence of side effects or adverse effects when creatine monohydrate is used appropriately. Consume 5-8 grams a day, drink the recommended amount of water every day (10-16 cups), and exercise consistently. That is the secret to success. 

In conclusion, CrM is a supplement that will assist anyone in achieving their fitness goals. When I was struggling in achieving my athletic goals, creatine was the biggest help in boosting me physically which led to an increase of confidence. It is not just a supplement that you toss in your gym back or let sit in your cupboard. Creatine is a key that unlocks the door to reaching your physical goals. It is time to grab that key and unlock that door. It is a game-changer, backed up by science, personal stories, and embraced by the fitness community. It’s not just a supplement; it is your friend helping you become who you want to be. If you are ready to be disciplined and consistent in exercise, it is time to make it a part of your life.

Jantzen Marcum

Rexburg, Idaho

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