Parenthood has enough stressful situations.
Creatine needn’t be one of them.
From your son’s first day at school, to your daughter’s first date – or should I say, her date’s first death threat – to those times your entire family knock at the front door unannounced and your begin running round the house like a headless chicken because your 5 year old decided right now would be a good time to strip naked and scale the kitchen cupboards.
Speaking from experience on that last one.
Yup, parenting is full of “WTF?!” situations.
Understandably, the first time your teenager arrives home with a tub of white powder in his rucksack, claiming it’s for the gym and it’s not steroids, our parent radar goes off the fucking chart.
So what’s the score with creatine supplements and teens?
Today’s article will explain things..
Is It Steroids?
Being a parent to a fitness-minded teen nowadays is harder than it used to be.
Back when I was a kid, Rocky IV was my preworkout.
These days, our kids have to deal with the pressure of Cristiano Ronaldo trying to sell them an electronic six pack machine which he fucking does not use, and the temptation of the supplement industry weighing down on them like a ton of bricks, with it’s incessant claims of “explosive muscle growth” and “overnight results”.
It’s an industry which lacks proper regulation – albeit making small improvements – and if they’re not careful, they can land themselves in hospital.
So one of the questions I’m often asked by worried parents is “Is creatine steroids?”
No, it’s not.
In fact, creatine is more like a vitamin than a steroid. It’s a naturally-occurring substance which is already present in your body, and is responsible for short bursts of explosive activity like jumping, sprinting or lifting heavy objects.
In short, it’s a perfectly legal supplement and not a steroid. This article will give you a rundown of what creatine does.
Is Creatine Safe For Teens?
If you walk in to any gym and ask this question you will hear very mixed responses and this tends to cause more confusion than clarification, despite the fact that there is solid scientific evidence showing the safety of creatine in teens.
One fantastic study from Canada saw a team of researchers document the effects of creatine monohydrate in children taking almost double the recommended loading phase for adults each day for up to two years and reported zero negative effects. (1)
Let’s process that information before moving forward.
At double the loading phase dosage of adults.
And zero negative effects.
Need I say any more?
Of course not. Hopefully any concerns about creatine supplements have been put to bed, but I will go further anyway.
In a second great study, this time published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, researchers tracked the effects of creatine supplementation in a group of young competitive swimmers. (2)
The male and female subjects experienced only positive effects and improvements in performance.
Which Type Of Creatine Should I Use?
The creatine market is so oversaturated with products, that most people have no idea which type of creatine they should be using.
To put it simply, there’s too much choice.
People enter paralysis analysis mode, overwhelmed by the fact that every product claims to be “the best”.
Of course, it needn’t be the case.
If you want to base your supplementation on solid scientific research – and as you are reading my website, I presume that you do! – then I recommend you stick to the basic, oldest form of creatine, known as creatine monohydrate.
While newer formulas such as creatine ethyl-ester, creatine kre-alkalyn, creatine nitrate make bold claims of being bigger and better, this is little more than supplement industry hype. As of 2016, no form of creatine has been shown to surpass the effects of standard creatine monohydrate, so I recommend saving yourself a lot of cash and keeping it simple.
One creatine formula to keep an eye on in future, however, is creatine HCL.
Like the other newer formulas on the market, creatine HCL has been shown to be as effective as – but not better than – creatine monohydrate for promoting strength and lean muscle gains, the primary difference here is that creatine HCL is able to perform it’s job without needing a serving of carbohydrates to accompany it, as well as an absorption rate almost 60% higher, meaning smaller serving sizes. (3)
However, creatine HCL is still relatively new to the game, and more research is definitely needed before it can be considered a genuine contender.
How Much Creatine To Take For Maximum Results?
People often make the mistake of thinking more is better.
Particularly with supplements.
Most creatine monohydrate supplements recommend consuming 5 grams per day for maximum results, and I agree with this. This would provide you with ample muscle building advantages, and allow you to reap the full benefits that creatine offers.
Many creatine supplements also recommend starting supplementation with a “loading phase” – i.e. a period of about a week which sees you triple or even quadruple the daily dosage – to get faster results.
You do not need to do that.
This is supplement industry nonsense. Studies concur that a loading phase isn’t necessary for boosting results, they simply want you to empty your tub faster. (4)
Your muscle cells are only able to store a certain amount of creatine, and once this saturation point is reached all we are doing is simply topping them up.
Therefore, a person taking 5 grams of creatine per day would achieve the same results as a person taking 15 grams of creatine per day, the only real difference being that the 5g individual would take longer to reach muscle saturation point.
While the saturation point in the 15g individual would be reached faster, beyond that stage they would simply be wasting creatine.
So, is creatine safe for teens?
Yes, absolutely. If your teen is training with weights on a regular basis or partakes in a contact sport, they can reap the rewards of creatine supplementation without fear.
1. Stockler S, et al. “Creatine Replacement Therapy In Guanidinoacetate Methyltransferase Deficiency, A Novel Inborn Error Of Metabolism.” Lancet, 1996, 348: 789-90.
2. Grindstaff PD, et al. “Effects Of Creatine Supplementation On Repetitive Sprint Performance And Body Composition In Competitive Swimmers.” Int J Sport Nutr, 1997, 7: 330-46.
3. Miller, D. “Oral Bioavailability Of Creatine Supplements: Is There Room For Improvement?” Annual Meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2009.
Pearson D. R., et al. “Long-Term Effects of Creatine Monohydrate on Strength and Power.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1999, 13(3), 187–192