What Does Creatine Actually Do?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts of certain foods, such as red meat, and is also available as a dietary supplement. When taken as a supplement, it can increase levels of creatine in the muscles, allowing for greater energy production during high-intensity, short-duration exercise, such as weightlifting or sprinting. This can lead to increased muscle strength and power, as well as improved recovery time between sets or workouts. Creatine has also been shown to have potential benefits for brain function and may help to improve memory and cognitive performance. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.

How Does Creatine Help the Body?

Creatine helps the body by increasing the availability of a high-energy compound called phosphocreatine in muscle cells. Phosphocreatine is used to rapidly regenerate the primary energy molecule used in muscle cells, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), during high-intensity, short-duration exercises. This leads to increased energy production in the muscles, allowing for greater muscle strength and power, and improved performance during these types of exercises.

Additionally, creatine can also lead to an increase in muscle mass, especially when combined with resistance training. This is because creatine causes water to be retained in muscle cells, leading to muscle hypertrophy (growth).

Creatine also may have potential benefits for brain function and may help to improve memory and cognitive performance. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.

Foods with Creatine

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that can be found in small amounts of certain foods. The highest dietary sources of creatine include:

  • Red Meat: Beef, pork, and lamb are all rich sources of creatine. A 3-ounce serving of cooked beef contains about 2 grams of creatine.
  • Fish: Fish such as salmon and tuna also contain creatine. A 3-ounce service of sockeye salmon provides about 1.3 grams of creatine.
  • Chicken: Chicken is also a good source of creatine, with a 3-ounce serving providing about 1 gram of creatine.
  • Dairy: Milk and yogurt are also sources of creatine. A cup of whole milk contains about 0.2 grams of creatine.
  • Eggs: Eggs contain small amounts of creatine, with one large egg containing 0.02 grams of creatine.

Please note that while these foods contain creatine, it may not be enough to achieve the desired effect. If you're looking to supplement your creatine intake, you can also take creatine supplements.

Pros of Creatine When Taken as a Dietary Supplement

Creatine has a number of potential benefits when taken as a dietary supplement:

  1. Increased muscle strength and power: Creatine has been shown to improve muscle strength and power during high-intensity, short-duration exercise, such as weightlifting or sprinting.
  2. Improved athletic performance: Creatine may enhance performance in activities that require short bursts of energy.
  3. Increased muscle mass: Creatine supplementation can lead to an increase in muscle mass, especially when combined with resistance training.
  4. Enhanced recovery: Creatine may help to reduce muscle damage and inflammation, leading to faster recovery after exercise.
  5. Improved brain function: Some studies have suggested that creatine may have potential benefits for brain function and may help to improve memory and cognitive performance.
  6. Reduced muscle cramps: Creatine has been found to reduce muscle cramps caused by endurance exercise.

Please note that while creatine is generally safe when taken as a supplement and is widely used by athletes and bodybuilders, more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of creatine supplementations. Consult with your healthcare provider before taking creatine. 

Can You Take Too Much Creatine?

Creatine is generally considered safe when taken as a dietary supplement in the recommended doses, which is typically around 3-5 grams per day. However, taking more than the recommended amount may cause some side effects, such as: 

  1. Weight gain: Creatine can cause an increase in muscle mass, which can lead to weight gain.
  2. Digestive issues: Some people may experience stomach discomfort, nausea, and diarrhea when taking creatine.
  3. Dehydration: Creatine can cause the body to retain water, which can lead to dehydration if enough water is not consumed.
  4. Kidney damage: There have been some reports of kidney damage in people who have taken high doses of creatine for extended periods of time, but more research is needed to confirm these effects.
  5. Interference with certain medications: Creatine may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, so it's important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking creatine if you are taking any medications.

As a general rule, you should stick to the recommended doses of creatine and also be sure to drink enough water to stay hydrated and avoid any potential side effects. Overall creatine can be an effective dietary supplement for people looking to improve their athletic performance and increase muscle strength, power, and mass. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking creatine if you have any concerns or if you are taking any medications.


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