Creatine is an amino acid that is naturally made in our body, but can also be consumed by eating meat and seafood, or taken orally through supplements. 95% of creatine is stored in our skeletal muscle and used for maintaining a constant source of energy to work our muscles.
Your body can only produce about 1-2 gram of creatine per day but you can consume up to 1.4 to 2.3 grams of creatine per pound of meat or seafood you eat. This amount a creatine is enough for basic needs and every day essential tasks.
So why would I take a creatine supplement?
There are 2 reasons you might take a creatine supplement. 1 being you are not consuming enough meat or seafood through your diet. Maybe you are a vegetarian or can't have red meat or have some other dietary restriction. Then adding a creatine supplement might be helpful to reaching your daily requirements and help you feel more energized through out the day.
The second reason might be if you are trying to build more muscle or enhance your sports performance and have more energy throughout your activity.
In a 12 week study on weightlifters, they found that creatine supplements increased muscle fiber growth by 2-3 times more than training with out and they doubled the max weight they could bench press in a single repetition vs not taking the supplement.
But isn't creatine bad for you?
If you have kidney disease, liver disease or high blood pressure, it is recommended that you stay away from any creatine supplements. But if you are relatively healthy individual, there are actually very little cons to taking a creatine supplement, especially if taken the correct dosage.
Although the supplement has been tested on adults, there is no research on effects of adolescence, and is advised that no one under the age of 18 take a creatine supplement, as it has not been researched on how it affects their bone and muscle growth.
The only downside to creatine is possible weight gain from water retention, dehydration, and stomach issues, but can be limited by taking the correct amount of creatine.
One other con to taking creatine is that it may actually worsen performance in endurance based sports because of weight gain and dehydration and has no endurance enhancing effects.
The last thing I would mention is that if you take too much creatine at one time, you will not get the benefits you are looking for, as your body will secrete the unused creatine as urine and you will just have wasted your time and money, so follow the correct dosage.
Overall, creatine is a pretty safe and cheap way to enhance your hard work in the gym if you find you have plateaued and need some additional help in getting stronger or reaching your next PR. I would first recommend trying to get your creatine naturally through enhancing your diet with meat and seafood first and see if that is enough to see any improvements before starting a creatine supplement and of course always advise your doctor or other health professionals before starting any new supplements.
Creatine and Creatinine Metabolism, Markus Wyss and Rima Kaddurah-Daouk, July 1, 2000. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.2000.80.3.1107
Volek JS, Duncan ND, Mazzetti SA, et al. Performance and Muscle Fiber Adaptations to Creatine Supplementation and Heavy Resistance Training. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. August 1999.