Steroid or supplement?


Michael Brandt '17

Nate Russell ’17 and other members of the group lift weights as part of their creatine-induced regimen.

Josh Gerenraich '17, Lifestyles Staff

Creatine, a workout supplement, may be the new steroid. The quick mix of white powder into a juice to bulk up has taken over members of Team Swole.

This supplement allows for bigger gains and strength in an efficient way by increasing the amount of energy the muscles expend, but has been known to cause damage to certain organs.

“Creatine is natural to the human body,” said Mario Banks, manager of the GNC on State Street. “It is made into ATP (energy) for short powerful bursts like lifting weights. It is commonly confused with creatinine (creatine’s bio waste) which does the kidney damage over time. I would definitely recommend that it is not for use for those under the age of 18.”

Unfortunately, this legal (but not approved for medical use by the FDA) substance is misunderstood and often misused, especially by teens.

“It gets a bad [reputation] because people don’t know about creatine,” said Joey Bailey ‘17. Bailey has been using the supplement for the past four months to gain more mass and strength confidence, and plans to only go up to 6 months of use at a time.

Studies have found the substance to be generally safe when following the basic precautions, such as the intake of mass quantities of water to avoid dehydration and the minimal intake of the substance to avoid kidney damage. However, some members of Team Swole have thrown caution to the wind.

“Some people like to do a loading phase which is about 20 grams [of creatine per day] for a week and five grams per day after that,” said Aris Brickler ‘17. To gain more muscle mass and strength, Brickler uses this supplement on the six out of seven days a week that he works out to increase his rate of gains.

Not only are users not following safe intake increments, but they know very little about the substance’s side effects on the body.

“No one really knows what the side effects are…,” said Elias Kuhns ‘17. “ The bad effects, which could be a myth, are liver and kidney problems.” Kuhns, a baseball player, has been taking creatine for just less than a month and has already gained 5 pounds in muscle weight.

“The actual side effects of creatine are only caused by the creatinine waste,” said Banks. “The waste can cause kidney damage over time. The waste is only produced when the substance is not taken properly.”

Although there are problems with misuse and lack of knowledge on the substance, when taken properly, the results can be beneficial.

Bodybuilders use creatine to build mass and strength more efficiently. When creatine is taken with knowledge on how to properly use it, its effects are significant and esteem-boosting. It is not recommended for teens, but as long as it is taken with knowledge behind the substance, the right diet for working out, and proper use of the substance in controlled quantities, it can be beneficial.

“It makes you intensely hungry, so be prepared for that,” said Brickler. “If you are not trying to put on mass, it is not necessary, but if you are and do take it, you must drink a gallon of water a day with the supplement.”