Author: James O’Sullivan • Fact checked by: Gainful Registered Dietitians • July 5, 2022
If you’re looking to improve your athletic performance, you may have heard that creatine can help. Creatine is one of the most popular nutritional supplements on the market and is commonly used by athletes to increase or maintain muscle mass and boost athletic performance.
However, there are some misconceptions around the supplement and whether it can result in acne breakouts. So, does creatine cause acne? Read on as Gainful explores.
Creatine is a derivative of two amino acids in the body: glycine and arginine. Amino acids are molecules that combine to form different types of protein; they are considered the building blocks of life.
Your body obtains amino acids from many different types of foods and can produce some amino acids on its own. Creatine is most commonly found in red meat and fish products, but the body can also produce it in small quantities.
Creatine is stored in the muscle cells, where it is used to create energy that your body needs when working out or engaging in strenuous activity. Because of its close relationship to strength and endurance, creatine is a popular supplement for those looking to support their athletic performance and muscle mass.
While approximately 95% of the body’s creatine is found in the muscle cells, your brain, kidneys, and liver also need creatine to function properly.
Creatine provides your body with a stored form of energy that is used in the process of cellular respiration to create ATP, which provides your cells with energy. The more ATP a person has, the better their athletic performance is likely to be in relation to their existing abilities.
If you’re looking to boost your athletic performance, increase or maintain strength or muscle, increasing your creatine stores may help. Some people may store creatine in larger or smaller quantities than others as a result of activity level, lean muscle mass, meat intake, and hormone levels.
One of the most common misconceptions about creatine surrounds the supplement's effects on acne. Many people believe that creatine causes acne or makes existing acne worse, but there is no evidence to suggest that this is true.
In fact, creatine may even help your skin look better, as the supplement has been shown to help reduce the appearance of sagging skin, minimize the appearance of wrinkles, and help combat sun damage.
There is no conclusive evidence to say that creatine causes breakouts, but if you do experience increased acne while taking creatine supplementation, you should discontinue use to see if your symptoms improve.
Instead, it is thought that spending more time working out (and thereby sweating more and for longer periods of time) causes an increase in acne. The best way to avoid breakouts is to shower immediately after your workout, avoid sitting around in sweaty clothes, and always make sure to clean off any gym equipment before using it.
It’s believed that the misconceptions about creatine causing acne are due to the common belief that creatine is an anabolic steroid. Anabolic steroids are known to cause acne and are sometimes used by athletes to increase muscle mass and boost athletic performance, but creatine is not an anabolic steroid.
There are three primary reasons people use creatine supplements: increasing muscle mass, boosting strength and athletic performance, and supporting brain health.
One of the most common reasons why people use creatine is to increase or preserve lean muscle mass. Numerous studies have shown that creatine supplementation helps increase muscle growth over time.
While creatine supplementation is most often associated with weightlifters and athletes, there are also benefits for other groups.
Those who are at risk of muscular dysfunction, including elderly people, sedentary people, and people with disabilities, may benefit from creatine supplements to maintain muscle mass.
It’s important to remember that creatine will be most effective when paired with an exercise routine. Creatine helps your body build muscle by providing more energy, but should be incorporated with regular workouts, especially resistance training.
A comprehensive review of athletic performance supplements found that creatine is the most beneficial supplement for increasing muscle mass.
Creatine is also commonly used to support the body’s ability to improve strength and athletic performance during high-intensity exercise. The benefits of creatine for strength and athletic performance may occur due to the higher levels of ATP in the body.
During high-intensity exercise, the cells use up their ATP in about eight to ten seconds under normal circumstances. When you supplement with creatine, your body can produce more ATP, allowing your cells to perform at a higher level for a longer time.
Studies have shown that athletes may benefit from supplementing with creatine as part of a training program. One study demonstrated a 14% increase in weightlifting performance, an 8% increase in strength, and a 43% increase in a one-rep bench press max when compared to training without supplementation.
The benefits of creatine are evident even in elite athletes, seeing performance increases when supplementing with creatine. For these athletes, creatine may also help to support endurance and allow the body to benefit from over-training, which would otherwise cause the muscles to break down.
Gainful Personalized Pre-Workout contains creatine alongside beta alanine to support workout intensity, l-citrulline to support circulation, l-theanine for focus, and BCAAs for muscle recovery.
Personalized based on your desired workout intensity and recovery time, Gainful Pre-Workout helps ensure you have all the tools you need to succeed. We also offer a Creatine Performance Boost to support muscle growth, strength, energy, and recovery.
One of the lesser-known uses of creatine is for cognitive function. While less than 5% of the body’s creatine is stored in the brain, your brain still needs energy to function. Without enough ATP, the brain may be more susceptible to certain forms of cognitive decline.
Studies show that creatine supplementation may benefit cognitive function by supporting the body’s ability to store ATP, which is crucial for the proper functioning of the brain.
More research into the benefits of creatine for cognitive function is needed, as the majority of research has been performed in animals. Creatine supplementation may also be helpful for those who are at risk of experiencing low creatine stores, including older adults and those following plant based diets.
In these groups, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase performance on a memory test by 50% and performance on an intelligence test by 20%. Thus, creatine supplementation may be a simple and convenient means of supporting cognitive function in groups who are susceptible to low levels of creatine.
How exactly does creatine work to boost brain power, increase strength, and improve athletic performance?
When you use a creatine supplement, you can increase the amount of creatine stored in your muscles and brain. If you have more creatine available, your body may be better able to produce ATP, which is the energy source your cells need to carry out tasks like weightlifting and sprinting.
The most common use of creatine is for building muscle mass. There are six key ways that creatine helps increase muscle mass:
Creatine is commonly used to increase muscle mass, improve strength, boost athletic performance, and support brain health.
Creatine does not cause acne, but working out for longer periods of time and sweating more can cause breakouts in some people. To minimize your risk of experiencing breakouts, shower immediately after your workout and change your clothes quickly. If you’re looking to incorporate Creatine supplements into your routine, try our Creatine Performance Boost or your Personalized Pre-Workout blend with Creatine.
Clinical pharmacology of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate | National Library of Medicine
Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis | National Library of Medicine
Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease | National Library of Medicine
International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise | National Library of Medicine
Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance | National Library of Medicine
Creatine and cyclocreatine attenuate MPTP neurotoxicity | National Library of Medicine
Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. | National Library of Medicine
Dermal penetration of creatine from a face-care formulation containing creatine, guarana and glycerol is linked to effective antiwrinkle and antisagging efficacy in male subjects | National Library of Medicine
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