March 29, 2016

Dear Dr. Bell, I recently made the decision to start taking Creatine. Is it better to take Creatine pills or powder? And why? Thanks very much for the help!

If you are using a good quality manufacturer, there should be no chemical change between the pill or powder. The difference will be your personal preference and which you find more convenient. I recommend you consult your doctor before you begin supplementing with Creatine, especially if you are hypertensive, borderline hypertensive or have any medical issues concerning your heart, kidneys or liver. You should never take Creatine if you have diabetes, kidney disease or are pregnant or nursing.

Creatine increases muscle fluid retention and this will require you to drink plenty of pure water, enough to maintain your urine color clear or nearly clear. You will also need to use caution on what can be substantial and rapid increase in strength. While it may seem like a dream come true to experience a rapid increase in strength, that strength increase may very well come with a high price tag.

Creatine has been shown to increase muscle strength rapidly. Unfortunately, the muscle strength increases rapidly, but your tendons and ligaments do not. This can lead to severe tendonitis, muscles tears at the musculotendon junction, muscle sprains and even ligament tears. Keep in mind that muscle can adapt relatively quickly, your fascia, tendon and ligaments cannot.

Creatine can improve speed, strength, power and anaerobic endurance, 4 critical IFPA Components of Fitness for athletic performance. It can also have a positive impact on the other 8 of the 12 IFPA Components of Fitness, but always keep in mind the risk of injury associated with the sudden performance increases.

There is also evidence that you can get the Creatine into your muscles more readily if you take it with a simple carbohydrate. Powered Creatine can be mixed into your “Fruit Smoothie” for maximum absorption and your Creatine pill can be taken with a cup of fruit juice.

In 2001, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that adding Creatine to a Whey Protein Supplement improved lean body mass better than a placebo. Therefore, you may want to add Whey Protein to that “fruit smoothie.”

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