Is Creatine a Steroid? Fact or Misconception?
Posted on January 10 2023
reatine has been a popular dietary supplement since the 1900s, over 1000 studies have been conducted on it, billions of servings of Creatine have been ingested. In spite of being the most researched supplement in the sports nutrition market, Creatine attracts some concern and some people erroneously claim, Creatine to be a steroid.
It is somewhat surprising to know that the questions regarding the safety of Creatine still remain.
In today’s blog, we’ll cut through the confusion and provide an update on the role and safety of Creatine supplementation…
If you are a regular follower of our blog posts, you certainly have received much information on Creatine. For those of you new here, find the links to all the blog posts on Creatine:
Creatine Enhances Energy & Performance, BCAA Vs Creatine – Which One To Choose?, Creatine Vs Carnitine , Creatine Vs Arginine, Can Women Use Creatine Supplement?, Creatine – Should You or Should You Not Take On Rest Days?, Can You Use Creatine While Cutting?, Creatine & Whey Protein – How Do You Benefit?
Let’s begin today’s blog with the basic information on Creatine and Steroid…
WHAT IS CREATINE?
Creatine is an endogenous amino acid derivative synthesized naturally in the body by glycine, arginine, and methionine. The non-protein amino acid compound is found primarily in red meat, and seafood. 95% of the Creatine stores are found in skeletal muscles with only small amounts found in the brain, and testes.
WHAT ARE ANABOLIC STEROIDS?
Anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of testosterone, an androgenic hormone that is produced endogenously within both males and females.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANABOLIC STEROID & CREATINE
You need to first understand the structural difference between Steroid & Creatine.
Steroids possess 4 conjoined rings, 3 cyclohexane rings, and one cyclopentane ring.
Creatine is a tripeptide compound made up of three amino acids, arginine, glycine, and methionine.
The Steroid is an anabolic drug whereas Creatine is an ergogenic aid. While the performance outcomes of Anabolic Steroids and Creatine are similar, their mechanism of action is not the same. We’ll explain how…
MECHANISM OF ACTION OF STEROID
Steroids are synthetic androgens that are structurally related and have similar effects to testosterone. Anabolic steroids increase performance and muscle mass by providing your body with an increase in the synthetic versions of testosterone. The testosterone enters the muscle cell, binds with the intracellular androgen receptor, and increases the expression of muscle-specific genes.
MECHANISM OF ACTION OF CREATINE
Creatine supplementation enhances performance and muscle mass by supporting greater training adaptations. When you train, you use ATP for energy, as your muscles contract, you break off a phosphate molecule from ATP, leaving with ADP. Creatine supplementation increases phosphocreatine concentration in muscle cells, which donate phosphate molecules to ADP to form ATP. Out of all the energy replenishing systems, the PCr system is the quickest and highest yielding. The rapid energy production by Creatine during intense anaerobic training increase muscle power, and exercise volume which subsequently translates into muscle hypertrophy.
Results obtained by creatine are not so pronounced as those attainable through the consumption of steroids.
THE LEGAL CATEGORIZATION OF ANABOLIC STEROIDS & CREATINE IS NOT THE SAME
Anabolic Steroids are classified as Schedule III controlled substances regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Steroids are subject to the regulatory control provisions of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) set forth by Drug Enforcement Associations (DEA).
Ergogenic use of anabolic steroids in sports and bodybuilding is prohibited because of their adverse effects and potential to gain unfair advantage in physical competitions.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has concluded that Creatine supplementation is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement in terms of increasing exercise capacity and lean body mass.
Creatine is found in high amounts in the food supply and therefore its use is not banned by any sports organization. Creatine is not a banned substance in Olympic competitions nor is it found on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of prohibited substances. Habitual low dietary ingestion of Creatine (3g/day) is safe and well-tolerated throughout the lifespan in healthy individuals.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION?
Creatine supplementation is recommended as an ergogenic aid for power/strength athletes to help optimize training adaptations, athletes who sprint intermittently and want to recover faster during competitions (football, soccer, basketball, sprints, swimming, tennis, powerlifting, rugby, volleyball).
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED DOSE OF CREATINE?
Athletes engaged in intense training may need to consume 5-10g of Creatine to maintain optimal whole body Creatine stores.
BENEFITS OF CREATINE
Creatine increases energy levels and helps athletes tolerate heavy training loads.
Creatine can prevent muscle injury.
Creatine increases cellular hydration.
Creatine Increases muscle mass and strength adaptations.
Creatine enhances aerobic capacity via greater shuttling of ATP from mitochondria.
Creatine increases work performed during sets of maximal effort muscle contractions.
Creatine increases anaerobic threshold.
Creatine enhances post-workout recovery.
WHAT IS THE NEED FOR CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION?
Vegetarians have been observed to have lower intramuscular Creatine stores and therefore may observe greater gains in muscle Creatine content from Creatine supplementation.
The phosphocreatine stores work as limiting factor for short bursts of high intensity training. As soon as this runs out, your ability to sustain maximal performance will come down. Increasing stores of PCr will increase the performance.
Creatine is found only in non-vegetarian foods, yet the level is pretty low. A pound of uncooked beef and salmon provides about 1-2g of Creatine.
Some individuals are found to have Creatine synthesis deficiencies due to inborn errors in Arginine Glycine Amidotransferase (AGAT), Guanidoacetate (GAA) and therefore must depend on dietary Creatine intake in order to maintain normal muscle concentration of PCr.
We hope you are now equipped with good amount of information, are you still in doubt, about whether or not creatine is a steroid? Hmm, we’ll answer you one last time…
IS CREATINE A STEROID?
Nope! Creatine is well-tolerated and safe to consume dietary supplement in healthy trained and untrained individuals.
Performance-related studies of Creatine in individuals have consistently reported ergogenic benefits with no clinically significant side effects…
Creatine is not only a potential ergogenic aid but has a favourable safety profile to potentially dangerous anabolic steroids…
Also Read: Steroids – What Are They? Are They Safe?
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