After, an intense morning of internship related business I did what I usually do when I need to shake of some nerves....I hit the gym.
I was completely in a daze ready to turn my ipod up as loud as it would go and run my little heart out...when I bumped into a friend. I was caught off guard when he asked me a nutrition/ running related question about what to take before working out. I was confused by the question and anxious to get my run on so I responded: "carbohydrates", but he continued..."no for energy, I like to take something before working out but I want to avoid cramping and dehydration." Next he asked "any suggestions..?". I shrugged my shoulders and said "all you really need is adequate carbohydrates, water, and maybe replenish with protein" and I kept going.
...But I couldn't stop thinking about the question partly because I hate thought of anyone cramping and dehydrating while running and partly because researching nutrition is a better way to spend my energy then worrying about my future lol.
Now, I am by no means supporting or suggesting the use of sports supplements and particularly creatine before working out BUT because these supplements are not banned by the USDA nor has there been any hard conclusive evidence that I can find that they are particularly harmful I feel its important to be educated about them if you chose to use them.
I am only going to share what I found about how and why they may be the cause dehydration and muscle cramping in a short review of online sources but I suggest meeting with a sports dietitian before using them!
So on to Creatine what is it ?
... it's a nutrient (an amino acid to be specific) that is naturally produced in the body (be careful I read taking supplements may reduce the body's natural production). It is stored in the muscles where it has the ability to restore energy especially during high intensity, short bouts of exercise like sprinting and weight lifting. It regenerates our body's main energy source, ATP providing increased energy to power workouts but in doing so it draws large amounts of water from other places in the body (the digestive system). Meaning that the more creatine in your body, the more water your body NEEDS. If you take creatine supplements without enough water you are risking dehydration, which can reduce the blood supply to your muscles and cause muscle cramps (and much worse, dehydration can lead to death if left untreated). If your taking creatine supplements pay extra attention to how much water you need!! The risk of dehydration only increases in long bouts of energy (like prolonged running) and hot weather (dangerous :( ).
- To be safe consult a registered sports dietitian before using supplements, they can help you figure out how much water you'll need and guide towards safer supplemental options.
- If you choose to use them, consume enough water and electrolytes to ensure you prevent dehydration
- Avoid taking creatine with caffeine or other diuretics because it can cause an increased risk of dehydration
- Avoid running for long periods of time when taking creatine so you don't increase your risk of dehydration. (I'm not too sure how the timing works but definitely separate long runs from creatine use)
- If you take creatine and experience decreased urine talk to your doctor ASAP because you may have problems with your kidneys( the organ that has to deal with all the extra creatine you consume) other signs of serve dehydration include a dry mouth and a lack of tears.
Some resources I used and your should check out if you take supplements to workout include:
I don't want to scare anyone I just want you to be safe! Check out:
dietitianindc.blogspot.com (A GREAT registered sports dietitian for more information!)