Behind the Ingredients: Creatine 101

March 28, 2017

Behind the Ingredients: Creatine 101

Creatine is one of the most popular supplements for fitness enthusiasts, and ranks similarly to protein powders and BCAAs. If you’re working to increase your strength and lean body mass, it’s likely you have a tub of this powder in your pantry right now. But many people who use it don’t really understand what it is or why it works - they just know that it does.

At Black Market, we’re all about the science behind supplements, and ensuring that each of our products is not only safe, but healthy in the long term for our customers. One of the great joys of having a strong passion about something is being able to share it - and as our reader, we hope you enjoy.

Here’s everything you should know about creatine:

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a natural compound that’s found in all animal muscle tissue - including our own. Everyone creates creatine naturally with their liver, kidneys and pancreas, and you get a little every time you eat a steak or piece of chicken.

An average adult human will produce about one gram of creatine a day. That same average adult, eating an average omnivorous diet, will eat another 1 gram of creatine that day. Those two grams are plenty for a human going about their day and doing light workouts, but if you’re looking for a more intense gym or track experience, you may be thinking of supplementing.

How Does Creatine Work?

Once in the blood stream, creatine is converted to creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine and delivered to your muscles, where it’s used for energy. Once in your bicep, glutes or even heart, it’s converted into ATP, which is the fuel your muscle cells consume.

Having readily available phosphocreatine, and thus ATP, available in your muscles translates to a very practical and desirable benefit during your workout: you’re able to perform much more intense and explosive workouts, and you won’t feel tired as quickly. Because of this, it’s not surprising that many athletes, especially those who focus on anabolic movements (such as bodybuilders, powerlifters and sprinters) decide to supplement their creatine intake purposefully.

Are There Any Dangers or Side Effects?

Because it occurs naturally in our bodies and (most of) our diets, the FDA and medical experts have deemed supplementing creatine as safe, both short and long term, for the average person. While the supplement version of this compound has only been around for a few decades, it has been studied to the satisfaction of most, especially when we keep in mind our body’s safeguard: excessive creatine is excreted. If you “overdose,” and you have no complicating allergies or issues, you’ll simply feel a bit jittery for a while.

However, it’s important to note that there are a few potential hazards that you, the user (you are putting a chemical into your body, after all) should know about:

  • Creatine will increase your heart rate. If you have any questions about your heart health and are pursuing an anabolic workout routine, please get checked out by your doctor first. However, getting a checkup doesn’t mean ignoring your body.
  • If you have asthma, and have never taken creatine before, start with a very low dose and work yourself up. This is also tied to the increase in heart rate you’ll experience, which may exacerbate your symptoms.
  • If you have liver or kidney disease, taking creatine, at least without careful supervision, is not a great idea. This includes people prone to kidney stones.
  • It’s important to note that creatine can interact with certain medications. Again, please check with your doctor if you’re unsure.

As with any supplement, take it slow and low (dosage) at first and make sure you feel how you want to feel. There’s no glory in shaking or otherwise being sick at the gym because you were impatient. 

There’s a reason why creatine is so wildly popular - it works, it’s safe, and it’s easy to take. Try out this popular and effective supplement to bring your workout to the next level!