If you're into fitness or bodybuilding, you've probably heard of creatine. It's a popular supplement that many people take to boost their performance and build muscle mass.
But, have you heard that taking creatine can also lead to constipation? Yeah, it's a common side effect that some people experience. But, is it really true? Can creatine really cause constipation?
Well, in this article, we're going to dive into the science behind it and find out once and for all. We'll also look at some tips to help prevent constipation if you're taking creatine, and keep your digestive system happy and healthy.
So, let's get started!
Does Creatine Cause Constipation?
Creatine is an osmolyte and undissolved creatine may be one of the reasons that people experience issues when supplementing creatine.
One of the ways creatine benefits muscle growth is by absorbing water in the muscle cells. When this happens in the stomach, most people complain of diarrhea, bloating, or constipation. Some people may also complain about creatine causing headaches.
Diarrhea is one of the most common side effects of creatine; however, creatine constipation can also be experienced by some people.
If you are dehydrated and creatine pulls water from your lower intestines into the muscle cells then it is likely that you may experience constipation.
To avoid this you should simply stay hydrated. It is recommended to increase your daily water intake by 0.5 liters above the regular intake for every additional 3-5g of creatine that you consume.
Furthermore, since creatine pulls water into the muscle cells, you should take it with a glass of warm water as it may dissolve in cold water more slowly.
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What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the muscle cells that provides the energy for high-intensity exercise and heavy lifting. It is popular among athletes to take creatine supplements to increase performance in the gym, and enhance muscle and strength.
Creatine levels in the body are affected by several factors such as meat intake, amount of muscle mass, exercise, and hormone levels of IGF-1 and testosterone.
Just 5 % of creatine is found in the liver, brain and kidneys while the remaining is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine.
Taking creatine supplements increases the level of phosphocreatine in the body which helps produce the body’s energy currency known as ATP. Higher levels of ATP in the body lead to better performance in exercise.
Benefits of Creatine
Creatine improves athletic performance in several ways. During a high-intensity workout, it leads to increasing the stores of phosphocreatine in the muscles, which in turn produces more ATP leading to better performance in heavy lifting and other high-intensity workouts.
One of the benefits of creatine is that it helps gain muscle. Taking creatine helps athletes boost the volume in their training sessions, which is a key factor to improve muscle growth in the long run.
It increases cell signaling which aids muscle growth and muscle repair. It also helps lift the water content in the muscle cells which leads to a volumization effect. This is one of the reasons that taking creatine leads to dehydration in some people.
There are several studies citing the positive effect of creatine on short and long-term muscle growth. A 14-week study on adults over the age of 65 revealed that creatine supplementation in a weight training program led to increase in muscle mass and leg strength.
Another study conducted on weightlifters revealed that creatine led to 2-3 times more muscle fiber growth as opposed to training alone.
Creatine may also help lower blood sugar levels, improve muscle function and help treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease however, more research is required to cement these claims.
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Has Creatine Been Extensively Tested?
Yes, creatine has been extensively studied and tested over the years. Creatine was first discovered in the early 19th century and has been used as a dietary supplement since the 1990s. Since then, numerous scientific studies and clinical trials have been conducted to determine the safety and effectiveness of creatine supplementation.
Studies have examined the effects of creatine on physical performance, muscle mass, and other health outcomes, including its potential side effects. The results of these studies have been mixed, with some finding benefits and others reporting no significant effects.
In terms of constipation, there have been a few studies that have investigated the relationship between creatine supplementation and digestive problems, including constipation. However, the results have been inconclusive, and more research is needed to determine the true extent of this relationship.
In general, creatine is considered safe for most people when taken as directed. However, as with any dietary supplement, it's important to speak with your doctor before starting to take creatine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
Can Children Take Creatine?
Creatine is generally not recommended for children. Creatine is primarily used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve physical performance and build muscle mass, and it is not clear whether it is safe or effective for children.
Additionally, the long-term effects of creatine supplementation in children are not well understood, and more research is needed to determine the safety of creatine in this population.
It's also important to note that children's bodies naturally produce creatine, and they typically get enough of it from their diets. Children can get creatine from foods like meat, fish, and dairy products.
If your child is involved in sports or other physical activities and you are considering giving them creatine, it's important to speak with your doctor first. Your doctor can help you determine whether creatine is appropriate for your child, and can provide guidance on the appropriate dosage and length of time for supplementation.
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Is Creatine a Steroid?
No, creatine is not a steroid. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that is produced in the body and can also be obtained from food sources such as meat and fish. It is also available as a dietary supplement in the form of powders, capsules, and drinks.
Steroids, on the other hand, are synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of the hormone testosterone. They are often used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve physical performance and build muscle mass, but they can also have serious side effects and are banned by many sports organizations.
It's important to note that creatine is not a banned substance and is not considered a performance-enhancing drug. However, some sports organizations may have restrictions on the use of creatine and other supplements, so it's important to check with your sport's governing body before starting to take creatine.
What Are Some Other Important Tips for Creatine Supplementation?
Here are some important tips for safe and effective creatine supplementation:
- Consult with your doctor: Before starting to take creatine, it's important to speak with your doctor, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications.
- Follow the recommended dosage: Creatine should be taken according to the manufacturer's instructions, and it's important not to exceed the recommended dosage. Taking too much creatine can lead to side effects, including digestive problems and kidney damage.
- Stay hydrated: Creatine supplementation can lead to dehydration, so it's important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Aim for at least 8-10 cups of water per day.
- Eat a balanced diet: Creatine should be taken in conjunction with a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
- Take breaks: Taking creatine continuously for long periods of time can lead to a buildup of creatinine, a waste product that is eliminated by the kidneys. It's recommended to take breaks from creatine supplementation every 4-6 weeks to allow your body to clear out excess creatinine.
- Watch for side effects: If you experience any adverse side effects while taking creatine, stop using it and speak with your doctor.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your creatine supplementation is safe and effective, and help minimize the risk of side effects.