IS CREATINE SAFE FOR TEENS?
In an endless sea of over-hyped and over-priced bodybuilding supplements, creatine monohydrate is one of the very few staples that I do recommend for those trying to maximize their muscle size and strength gains.
In those who respond well to it, creatine can be a useful supplement for increasing strength in the gym, improving lean muscle growth, and boosting performance during explosive stop/start sports.
But is creatine safe for teens, or should the younger guys wait until they’re older before they begin supplementing with it?
I receive this question all the time from teen lifters who are looking to pack on muscle and want that extra edge, or from the parents of those teens who want to know if it’s okay for their son to use it.
Let’s go over it…
Is Creatine Safe For Teenagers?
The bottom line answer here is actually very simple…
From a pure physiological perspective, age is not a factor when it comes to the safety of creatine supplementation.
We of course can’t say anything with 100% certainty when it comes to nutrition and supplementation, but creatine is the most researched sports supplement in the world, and the available data shows it to be safe for use in otherwise healthy people.
Whether a person is 16 or 60, creatine supplementation should not produce undesirable side effects as long as that individual does not have any pre-existing conditions.
So, is creatine safe for teens? From a physical health standpoint, yes.
The potential problem with creatine use in teenagers is not one of safety, but rather comes into play when dealing with those young teens who are looking for a “quick fix”, and who aren’t following a proper training and nutrition plan first and foremost.
It’s the guys who send me messages that go something like:
“Hey Sean, I need to put on 5-10 pounds really fast. Which protein powder and creatine will get me the best results?”
These guys haven’t put in the time to research things properly or to formulate an intelligent plan for themselves…
They aren’t hitting the gym consistently or tracking their progress…
They haven’t developed the proper nutritional habits to support their goals…
And they just aren’t taking the whole process very seriously at all, thinking that pills and powders are somehow going to magically transform their body over night.
In cases like these, I most definitely wouldn’t recommend the use of creatine.
It’s important for teens to understand that not a single bodybuilding supplement out there is anywhere close to being a “quick fix”, and even if their training and nutrition is on point, creatine will still only produce modest results at best.
Building quality muscle is a lengthy process that takes a lot of time and effort to achieve, and supplements are only there to provide a very small extra boost.
Now, what about teenagers who ARE serious about their fitness journey, who have done the proper research first, and who do understand the role that supplements realistically play in a bodybuilding program?
Just because someone is young doesn’t mean they don’t work hard, and I know many teen lifters and athletes out there with fantastic work ethic who are more disciplined and more serious about their training than guys twice their age.
In that case, I don’t see any problem at all with giving creatine a try.
It’s perfectly fine from a basic health perspective, and since it only costs about $3-$4 per month to supplement with, price won’t be much of an issue even for most younger guys out there.
I was personally very dedicated to my bodybuilding plan during my teenage years (even moreso than I am now), and creatine was one of the basic supplements that I myself used at that time.
How To Use Creatine Properly
If you’re a serious teenager lifter who wants to include creatine in their supplement plan, just make sure you’re using it properly by following these steps…
1) Stick with basic 100% creatine monohydrate in the form of “Creapure”. This is the most researched-backed form available, and none of the higher priced “advanced creatines” you’ll come across (such as creatine hcl, creatine nitrate, creatine ethyl ester etc.) will do anything more for you other than drain your wallet.
2) Consume 3-5 grams per day, which is equal to about 1 teaspoon. There is no need to perform a loading phase, and you’ll experience the full benefits of creatine after about 2-3 weeks of consistent use.
3) You can take your creatine at any time of day when it’s most convenient (the specific timing makes no difference), and you can mix your creatine in any liquid of your choice, such as juice, water, a protein shake, coffee or a zero calorie beverage.
4) Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, as creatine does require additional water in order to be properly stored in your muscles. Proper bodybuilding water intake will vary from person to person, but the basic idea should be to drink enough so that your urine is relatively clear and odorless.
That’s really all there is to it.
Following these steps will ensure that you get the maximum benefit from your creatine supplementation and in the most cost-effective way.
Also keep in mind that around 10-30% of the population are “creatine non-responders” who don’t experience any benefits from creatine supplementation.
So, if you’ve been using your creatine for 2-3 weeks consistently and haven’t seen any increase in body weight or strength, you can simply discontinue it and save your money as it isn’t likely going to help you in the long run.
The Bottom Line On Teenagers And Creatine Use
Is creatine safe for teens? Yes.
Should every teenager looking to build muscle use it? No.
If you’re not taking your fitness program seriously and don’t have a proper training and nutrition plan in place first and foremost, creatine use should be the furthest thing from your mind.
It’s not a “quick fix” by any means, and it will do virtually nothing for you if you don’t have the correct bodybuilding fundamentals in place first.
On the other hand, if you’re a dedicated teenage lifter who knows what they’re doing and is consistently following a sound fitness program week in and week out, then creatine use is perfectly fine as a small addition to your plan when used properly.
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