Dear Mark: Should Teens Take Creatine?


One of the most frequently asked questions about the supplements I receive is about creatine. That is, is it good for you? Is it safe? And should teenagers use it today?

You should run any new supplements or practices from your doctor, but my quick, short answer is “yes.” Generally, teens can take it safely with a few medical exceptions. Teenagers can benefit greatly. Adolescents, especially those who do not eat any animal products, should consider taking creatine. But here I do not just make short, quick answers. We delve into the science of creatine use in teens to determine exactly why it is so beneficial and safe. First, the question:

Hi Mark,

I have 2 kids who are athletes and they ask me about creatine.
One is 21 and plays college football … and the other is 15 and plays football and baseball.
My little one is hitting me to start taking creatine. Do you have any comments on this? Or an article you can point me to what you wrote. I’ve always been against it, just because I don’t know enough about it.

Thanks for your help,
Alicia Murray

Now the details. To begin with, let’s dispel some popular myths about creatine.

Creatine myths destroyed

Creatine is not a synthetic compound created in a laboratory and never seen before in human biology; it exists in muscle tissue, both human and animal. The best dietary source of creatine is found in fish and red meat. In other words, if you eat animal products, you are “taking creatine.”

Creatine is not the same as anabolic steroids, although many stories of media fear over the years have compared them.

Taking creatine is not a shortcut to muscle growth. You still have work to do. In fact, without doing the work, creatine will not help you build any muscle. Creatine help you do more work than you would otherwise. That is why it is effective.

What does creatine do?

Whether biosynthesized from the constituent amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine, which are part of a natural fleshy diet, or taken as a supplement, creatine helps provide a very specific type of energy for muscles: ATP or adenosine triphosphate, the fuel we use for short, intense bursts of speed or force. It also plays a critical role in maintaining cells by regulating the assembly and disassembly of the cytoskeleton, but this is usually not why people take creatine. They do this because it helps in the production of ATP. When we lift large amounts of weight or do a maximum of 1 repetition or lift cars from accident victims, we are implicating our ATP energy. Our ATP is usually good for a few moments of maximum start: fifteen seconds of every sprint; a few squats at 80% of our 1 maximum repetition; or a good 100% air press 1 maximum repetition. That’s the thing Grok he would have promised to deal the fatal blow to the mastodon. It is a survival fuel and depletes fairly quickly, but refills just as quickly.

This is also why creatine is one of the supplements I most often recommend to people on a keto diet. To most people, keto seems to slightly compromise high-end glycolytic power – the kind of energy you need to drive high-intensity, high-volume efforts in the gym and around the world. We just don’t carry the same amount of glycogen as your standard carb charger, and if you’re trying to do the same activities as your carb charger, you may lose high-end power.

This is where creatine comes in. By increasing the muscle phosphocreatine content, it provides instant energy for intense movements. It doesn’t last long, but it removes any reduced glycogen content from the muscles, and we can recycle it with a short break.

Creatine not only improves physical performance. Creatine it is also found in the brain, where it is found maintains cognitive function by recycling ATP, the body’s basic energy currency. Studies show that vegetarians who supplement with creatine enjoy improved cognitive and physical performance. Vegan brains and muscles, which have even less (small amounts of creatine are present in eggs), should benefit even more from supplementation.

For the average athlete (teen or not), it’s not a game changer, but it has been shown to show some real, albeit minor, benefits in immediate muscle energy. Creatine can help give you that little extra burst of ATP that can help you get through the whole thing. Instead of stopping at 10 reps, you may be able to keep going for 12. It is not clear if you are increasing your muscles and permanent strength. The added repetitions that can help you extract will certainly bring some benefits, such as signaling your genes to synthesize more protein and grow more muscle, but it becomes murky if you consider that creatine supplements are cell volumizers. which cause water retention in the muscles.

Make sure you’re really gaining strength instead of just a water-based size.

Should teens take creatine?

Okay okay. Therefore, creatine is ideal for high-intensity performance in the short term, especially for resistance training. It has been widely studied in adult athletes. What about real teen studies?

We have only studied creatine in two types of teenage athletes: swimmers and soccer players. What does it show?

Teenage swimmers taking creatine see real benefits. Through several different studies, it has been shown that taking from 5 grams of creatine per day to 20 grams of creatine per day increase swimming sprint speed, swimming interval performance, maximum swimming speed and performance on the swimming bench (an exercise instrument designed to mimic and emulate the swimming experience). In other words, it is ideal for speed swimmers and any other swimmer who wants to increase their top speed in the water.

In football players, we see similar advantages: better sprint performance, better dribbling, higher output power, better sprint repeat performance, improved work capacity.

For some reason, these are the only randomized controlled trials of creatine performed on adolescent athletes. But I think it’s safe to say that most of these benefits will translate well into other sports.

Actually, studies show that teens are a little better at getting the creatine they take in their muscles than adults, which could mean one or two things: either they’re more efficient with creatine transfer, or they have lower basic creatine levels in the muscles. Either way, teens may especially benefit from creatine supplementation.

Creatine is likely to make a bigger difference in teens who don’t eat a lot of dietary creatine, such as vegetarians. Studies show that compared to creatine-taking omnivores, creatine-taking vegetarians see a greater increase in muscle creatine content, but are unclear whether this disparity translates into greater improvements in exercise performance. .

What studies show is that creatine improves everyone’s performance and body composition, regardless of diet. They also show that the body makes about two grams of creatine a day and gets one or two from a meat-rich diet, but can use more creatine than supplements.

However, there is little or no evidence of cognitive benefits for younger people taking creatine. They only occur in vegetarians or the elderly, especially those with cognitive impairment or high levels of stress. I would imagine vegetarian or vegan teens he would see cognitive benefits, however.

Creatine Tips for Teens

If your child is going to take creatine, make sure a couple of things are resolved.

  • Drink plenty of quality water. Creatine requires an additional intake of water. It throws water at the muscles, leaving the rest of the body vulnerable to dehydration.
  • Take a lot of electrolytes. You can mix electrolyte drinks, use something like LMNT, or drink my favorite standby: Gerolsteiner mineral water with sea salt and the juice of a lemon or lime. For serious electrolyte needs, you can also make my “best Gatorade” by mixing black molasses with coconut water with a little lime or lemon juice and salt.
  • 2-5 grams of creatine a day is nothing to worry about. What worries me about teen supplementation habits is stimulant-laden pre-workouts. Straight caffeine powder. Play with exogenous testosterone. Recreational adderall. You could do much worse than creatine, a nutrient found in the oldest human food, red meat. A nutrient that our livers synthesize on their own, of their own free will.
  • Preloading with 10-20 grams a day for 5 days is safe. This allows your muscles to saturate with creatine a little faster, but you don’t need to reap the benefits of creatine.
  • The extra load of carbohydrates does not seem to increase the effects. Adding carbohydrates to creatine above what teens receive in their normal diet does not draw any additional benefits.
  • Your teen should be active in intense training or sports. Since supplemental creatine doesn’t really reach the brains of teens or offer many cognitive benefits to the average healthy teen, creatine use should be reserved for those who are actively training.
  • Your teen should be training and / or vegetarian / vegan. The only reason an untrained teenager should consider creatine is if he or she avoids meat.
  • Your teen should have healthy kidneys. If your teen has kidney disease or failure, discuss creatine with your doctor before continuing.

Other than that, I don’t see any reason why healthy, active teens who engage in training or sports shouldn’t consider creatine.

Have any of you tried creatine when you were a teenager? Do you have teenage athletes taking creatine? Let me hear below how it went for you and yours!

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About the author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, the sponsor of the Primal Food and Lifestyle movement, and New York News best selling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for life, where he talks about how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is also the author of many other books, among them The primary plan, who was credited with driving the growth of the primal / paleo movement in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating people about why food is the key to achieving and maintaining optimal well-being, Mark launched Primary Kitchen, a real food company that creates cooking staples compatible with Primal / paleo, keto and Whole30.

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