Is creatine safe? Lipid economy

Creatine is one of the best tested and the most efficient substances used in sports supplementation. Although its safety has been proven many times, this compound is still controversial for some. For example, it was possible to hear a rumour that the supplementation with creatine has negative influence on lipid economy by increasing the level of triglycerides and therefore increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular system diseases. It's good to wonder if that news is justified in scientific studies.

Just to remind you

Creatine (i.e. Methylguanidoacetic acid) is an organic chemical compound, which plays an important role in energetic transformations in the body. Its main role is to "regenerate" adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the basic intracellular energetic carrier in specific physiological conditions that occur during intensive physical activity connected with sports training. Thanks to the presented property, creatine improves significantly effort abilities, it also increases muscle cells hydration (which results from its osmotic properties), fosters the development of muscle mass and supports the process of gathering larger amount of glycogen. Supplementation with creatine may also influence the activity of enzymes, which participate in protein synthesis, and block the activity of myostatin (which will be described in separate article). All of that makes creatine one of the most efficients substances from the group of supplements for sportsmen and physically active people. But there is a question: is it safe for health? Obviously, this matter may be considered on many levels, but this article will refer to the influence of creatine supplementation on lipid economy.

Creatine and lipid profile

A rumour, which inclined that supplementation with creatine is dangerous for cardiovascular system, because... as a result of using it, the level of triglycerides in blood increases, appeared not so long ago. This statement is intriguing, as some part of the potential "creatine users" may already have problems with lipid economy, and creatine itself could worsen it. But is it really like this?

If this topic was approached in a totally superficial way, it could be said that "there's something about it", therefore – it's good to be careful with creatine. In one of the studies it was pointed that the volunteers who used creatine (and they were Taekwondo competitors) experienced significant increase of the level of triglycerides. That result was recognized as statistically significant and it was not noticed in the group of placebo. What's more, the sportsmen who received creatine also gained some fatty tissue (although it was minimal increase), and the sportsmen from the control group – lost some spare fat. You can read about it under the lin below:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23822690

On the basis of that data, it can be admitted that creatine is harmful for health and body shape. However, the truth is that such conclusions may be simply premature. Although it is not mentioned in the abstract of the cited study, it can be found in the full version of the article, that creatine was supplied with carbohydrate drink containing saccharose, which is table sugar, in the dose of 30g. It is not small amount, because it equals about 8 teaspoons of sugar. You can find details in the publication linked below:

http://www.nutricionhospitalaria.com/pdf/6314.pdf

As you can read in that article, the control group with placebo also received carbohydrates in the same dose, but that was maltodextrin. It's good to remember that saccharose is simple sugar composed of glucose and fructose, and fructose may increase the level of triglycerides in quite dynamic way. In fact, the influence of fructose on the level of triglycerides is noticed with its quite high presence in diet (over 30 – 60g), but I don't know if that level was achieved in the volunteers using creatine with the addition of saccharose. Obviously, it is speculation, however, it is somehow justified. It wouldn't be possible to consider it, if both groups in the experiment got the same kind of carbohydrates. Nevertheless, the most important is the fact that the level of triglycerides was within standard! Additionally, it is important that the cited study is not the only one, which assessed the influence of supplementation with creatine on lipid economy.