Is Creatine Safe? | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for Our FREE Newsletter.

Is Creatine Safe and Effective for Young Athletes?

April 20, 2011

Often advertised as conferring huge strength and performance benefits, creatine is a popular supplement for athletes and an understandably tempting choice. Proponents cite several studies that prove it is safe for the body. But is creatine safe for young athletes? Although creatine does have performance benefits for older and more mature athletes, young and still-growing high school athletes should first educate themselves on the product before beginning supplementation.

According to Liz Applegate, Oakland Raiders nutritionist, young athletes should be cautious about creatine. “We don’t know enough about its effects on younger athletes,” she says. “I’m always hesitant to acknowledge that it might be a benefit when we don’t know what it will do to their growth rates.”

Creatine monohydrate is a natural compound found in the body and in some foods, like steak. When consumed, it is converted into an energy source that's used for explosive bursts of speed and strength lasting less than 10 seconds. This helps reduce fatigue and improve the quality of a workout. You may be able to perform extra reps or maintain perfect form longer, offering an added challenge to your muscles for increased muscle size and strength.

Studies have shown that creatine also improves muscles' ability to contract to improve strength, and stimulates natural hormones that increase muscle size. Creatine also causes water retention. You may add weight when beginning a program, but it’s not solely from lean muscle gains. If you stop taking creatine, you will lose the added water weight within four weeks.

If you’re looking to add lean mass, first embark on an effective training program and a balanced nutrition plan. After adopting a solid plan, if you still want to try creatine, consult a trainer, nutritionist or doctor before beginning supplementation.

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Why Hard Work May Not Always Beat Good Genes

The big problem with statements like "hard work beats talent," as us professional fitness trainers and sports coaches often say, is that it always...

Why You

Build Bigger Biceps Without an 'Arm Day'

The Food Rules for Building Muscle

Why You Need to Change Your Workouts More Often

Increase Metabolic Stress for Size and Performance

How to Strengthen Small and Weak Muscles

Build Bigger Arms With This Bicep Workout

Shoulder Workouts for Mass: 3 Tips

Q&A: Brad Schoenfeld on Maximizing Muscle Growth

The 15-Minute Beach Muscle (Plus Hustle) Workout

How the Actors of 'Blue Mountain State' Get in Shape

5 Reasons Why You're Not Ripped

Keys to a Successful Full-Body Transformation

Build Muscle Faster With This Simple Weight Room Trick

5 Tips to Increase Lean Body Mass

Can Your Diet Prevent Sports Injuries?

When to Use Isolation Exercises for Growth

3 Simple Moves for Bigger Triceps

The 8 Craziest Things People Do to Build Muscle

5 Reasons You Can't Build Muscle

Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

Get a Big Chest With 5 Stand-up Exercises

I Lift Weights But Can't Build Muscle. What's Wrong?

Get Strong and Thick With Strongman Exercises

5 Easy Muscle-Building Tips for Hardgainer Athletes

You Need Rest Intervals. Here's Why

The Weakling's Guide to Working Out

Pressed for Time? Try This 20-Minute, 200-Rep Workout

A Simple Strategy for Serious Muscle Growth

What You Need to Know About Gaining Muscle Mass

Pack on Muscle by Wave Loading

6 Skinny Pro Athletes Who Dominate Their Sport

5 Food Swaps that Help Athletes Bulk Up

Mechanical Overload: A Strategy for Bigger Muscles

The 4 Rules of Bulking Up

Quickly Build Muscle for Football

3 Reasons Why You're Not Getting Stronger

Build Muscle in Less Time With Massed Practice

How to Build Muscle: A Game of Angles