The use of creatine is one of the most talked about subjects in world sport today, with extensive research showing that the supplement has both its distinct advantages and disadvantages. Many athletes have been sworn off the product, others believing it’s beneficial on the field of play.
Identified in 1832, creatine is naturally produced in the body, supplying energy to cells within. Approximately 95% of the body’s creatine is found in the skeletal muscle. Given this, creatine is not in the IOC(International Olympic Committee) list of banned substances, making it a legal supplement for athletes.
So what is so good about Creatine?
Creatine is known to lessen the level of fatigue during high levels of exercise, such as sprinting around the rugby field and repetitive stints of running. This supplement benefits players during matches, increasing overall strength and adding extra muscle when needed. As creatine already exists in the body, adding more into your system gives the opportunity to add strength and provide energy.
As simple as it sounds, creatine is nothing without putting the training in. Rugby players are recommended to train three times a week, taking the supplement during the off season and pre season to gear up for the months ahead. Without high levels of strength training, creatine will simply not work and be a waste of time.
If taken correctly, the benefits are known to be huge for rugby players, many reporting the boost in performance and energy levels.
But why are athletes being sworn off the product and told standard training is simply good enough?
Long term effects are one reason. Some studies have shown that excess use of creatine can cause harm to kidneys. Other studies have shown various side effects such as aggressiveness, acne and even hair loss. Such reports have given negative publicity to creatine, some mentioning it should be banned.
Should rugby players use creatine?
The use of creatine supplements is purely up to the individual. As the supplement is legal, athletes have the opportunity to use this without the worry of being tested and discarded from their respective sports. Rugby players need to assess themselves and way up the pros and cons of taking this supplement. With all the negative press surrounding it, it’s slowly drifting away from the norm and reports of bad side effects are increasing. For those considering usage, the starting dosage for creatine is generally 20g a day for the first five days, then 2 – 5 grams a day from then on, backed up with recommended exercise to boost size and strength.
At the end of the day, creatine is designed to boost your performance but is it really worth the long term effects? Many say no and say structured training the way to go, and a much safer option.