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Are You Still Natty If You Take Creatine? The Debate

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The fitness industry has been swirling with debates about what it means to be “natty” or natural. The main bone of contention? Supplementation, and more specifically, creatine. Does ingesting this commonly used fitness supplement strip you of your natural status?

Yes, you’re still natty if you take creatine because creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in common foods like red meat and fish. It’s not a synthetic drug or steroid but a dietary supplement that helps to replenish the body’s own stores of creatine phosphate, a molecule crucial for energy production in muscles.

Taking creatine simply enhances your body’s ability to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is used for short bursts of energy during high-intensity activities like lifting weights or sprinting. This supplementation does not artificially alter hormone levels or the body’s natural physiology in the way that performance-enhancing drugs do.

To give you more info, we’ll be exploring the science, arguments, and societal implications of this debate in-depth, while providing you with a comprehensive understanding of what it means to be “natty” in the fitness industry.

What does “Natty” Mean?

To kick off our discussion, it’s essential to define what “natty” means in the fitness context. Natty, short for natural, refers to a status attained by individuals who refrain from using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), specifically anabolic steroids and similar compounds[1]. The natty ideal is centered on health, honesty, and the celebration of individual genetic potential, and has grown increasingly popular as a counter to the trend of substance misuse within bodybuilding and sports.

Now, a crucial question arises: Does taking dietary supplements like creatine disqualify you from being natty?

Is creatine natty

Creatine: An Overview

Creatine, one of the most widely researched sports supplements[2], is a compound naturally produced in the human body and plays a vital role in our energy metabolism. It’s found predominantly in muscle cells and helps your body produce more ATP, the key energy molecule, during high-intensity exercise[3].

Supplementing with creatine is known to enhance strength, increase lean body mass, and improve exercise performance[4]. However, it’s essential to note that the increases seen with supplementation simply augment the creatine your body naturally produces and gets from food, such as meat and fish[5].

Is creatine natty

Creatine Supplementation: Natty or Not?

From a purely definitional point of view, being natty has been traditionally associated with not using exogenous hormones, primarily anabolic steroids. This is where the critical distinction lies. Creatine is not a hormone. It’s a naturally occurring substance, and its supplementation doesn’t mimic the action of hormones in the body[6].

Moreover, unlike anabolic steroids, creatine supplementation doesn’t lead to an unfair advantage by enabling physiologically unnatural levels of muscle growth or athletic performance. Instead, it helps an individual potentially maximize their natural potential by optimizing the body’s existing metabolic processes[7].

This raises an important point. If we were to consider creatine supplementation as unnatural, then, by extension, all forms of concentrated nutrition could be viewed similarly. For instance, protein powders are just concentrated forms of naturally occurring proteins. If one doesn’t consider protein powders as stripping away “nattiness,” then it seems illogical to treat creatine differently.

Creatine and Health: A Natural Perspective

From a holistic wellness standpoint, there’s another factor that comes into play when determining the “naturalness” of a supplement – its impact on health.

Anabolic steroids, the primary substances that declassify an athlete as natty, have well-documented health risks, including cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases, mood disorders, and endocrine system disruption[8].

On the other hand, creatine has been extensively studied for its safety profile and has been found to be safe for long-term use[9]. Furthermore, research has hinted at potential health benefits of creatine beyond sports performance, including neuroprotective properties and possible benefits for cognitive function in aging populations[10].

This safety profile and the potential for health benefits further align creatine supplementation with the principles of holistic wellness and reinforce its compatibility with the definition of being natty.

Concluding Thoughts

In light of the scientific evidence and the traditional definition of “natty,” it’s clear that creatine supplementation does not disqualify one from being considered natural. It aligns with the ethos of maximizing one’s genetic potential while staying within the bounds of health and wellness, which is the essence of being natty. So yes, you can confidently say, “I am natty” while using creatine to help reach your fitness goals.

However, it’s also essential to recognize the evolving nature of such discussions. As science progresses and our understanding of nutrition and supplementation deepens, so too will the conversations around the concept of “natty.”


Frequently Asked Questions

What will creatine do to my body?

Creatine supplementation enhances your body’s stored creatine levels, primarily in the muscles. This helps improve performance during high-intensity, short-duration exercise like weightlifting or sprinting. Enhanced performance can lead to increased strength, lean muscle mass, and muscle recovery.

When should you take creatine?

There’s no ‘perfect’ time to take creatine universally agreed upon. However, many experts suggest taking it either before or after a workout, as this is when your muscles are most receptive. Some individuals may also ‘load’ creatine by taking a high dose for the first 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance dose, but research has shown this is not necessary.

How much creatine is safe for kidneys?

The safety of creatine supplementation has been studied extensively. For a healthy individual, following the recommended dosage of up to 5g per day should pose no risk to the kidneys. However, individuals with pre-existing kidney conditions should consult a healthcare provider before starting any supplementation regime, including creatine.

Does creatine increase testosterone?

While creatine is well-known for its performance-enhancing effects, its impact on testosterone levels isn’t as clear. Some studies suggest a potential increase in testosterone with creatine use, but the overall evidence is inconclusive and more research is needed.

Is creatine OK to take everyday?

Yes, it’s generally safe to take creatine every day, provided you’re adhering to the recommended dosage (around 3-5 grams per day after the loading phase). Long-term use of creatine, when used responsibly, has not been shown to pose health risks.

References

  1. Hoffman, J. R., & Ratamess, N. A. (2006). Medical Issues Associated with Anabolic Steroid Use: Are They Exaggerated? Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 5(2), 182–193.
  2. Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D. S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., … Lopez, H. L. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14, 18.
  3. Wallimann, T., Tokarska-Schlattner, M., & Schlattner, U. (2011). The creatine kinase system and pleiotropic effects of creatine. Amino acids, 40(5), 1271–1296.
  4. Buford, T. W., Kreider, R. B., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Campbell, B., Spano, M., … & Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4(1), 6.
  5. Persky, A. M., & Brazeau, G. A. (2001). Clinical pharmacology of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate. Pharmacological Reviews, 53(2), 161-176.
  6. Clark, J. F. (1998). Creatine: a review of its nutritional applications in sport. Nutrition, 14(3), 322-324.
  7. Balsom, P. D., Söderlund, K., & Ekblom, B. (1994). Creatine in humans with special reference to creatine supplementation. Sports Medicine, 18(4), 268-280.
  8. Pope Jr, H. G., Wood, R. I., Rogol, A., Nyberg, F., Bowers, L., & Bhasin, S. (2014). Adverse health consequences of performance-enhancing drugs: an Endocrine Society scientific statement. Endocrine Reviews, 35(3), 341-375.
  9. Shao, A., & Hathcock, J. N. (2006). Risk assessment for creatine monohydrate. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 45(3), 242-251.
  10. Avgerinos, K. I., Spyrou, N., Bougioukas, K. I., & Kapogiannis, D. (2018). Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Experimental Gerontology, 108, 166-173.
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