Creatine has firmly established itself as the most popular workout
What does this terminology mean, and can someone with a minimal workout routine still benefit from using creatine regularly? Will you go bald by using it – heaven forbid? Are men valid in their concerns about speeding up the process of male pattern baldness and hair loss?
We’ll be addressing all of this below.
As one of the most reputable supplements – for workout performance or cognitive benefit- creatine should be on your radar and in your stack.
Table of Contents
What Is Creatine?
Before we explore what exactly creatine is, we should first define ‘natty’ and what it means in this context. In the body-building community, Natty is often used as terminology (slang) to refer to ‘natural’ products. It essentially just means natural.
This means that the product being used is entirely natural, or the bodybuilders themselves (who are natty) rely solely on nutrition, whole food, and (natural) supplements as opposed to steroids (exogenous hormones) to gain.
So, yes – you are still ‘natty’ while consuming or taking things like creatine, whey, and l-arginine.
For many struggling to gain (or simply looking for better performance), creatine offers a tried-and-true benefit. These naturally derived supplements are safe and not ‘enhanced’ for exogenous hormone production. This means creatine counts as natural and can be considered a part of “natural body building.”
What, then, is creatine natty?
Creatine is naturally formed (made) in the kidneys and liver from bodily processes involving amino acids – glycine, arginine, and methionine.
Creatine is primarily consumed through meat (red meat, poultry, fish) or individually as a dietary
It stores ‘high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine,’ which are then donated to ADP to turn it into ATP, the primary carrier in the body for energy production. Thus, this causes an increase in ATP. This is relevant for those under high energy demand, which is why it is often used by bodybuilders, athletes, or endurance training.
For a more thorough understanding, ATP can be defined as a molecule that takes energy and transports it within cells.
It helps fuel high endurance or intensity exercise or workouts.
ATP, ADP, and Phosphocreatine
When ATP is used up (during these activities), it is converted into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and AMP (adenosine monophosphate). Creatine helps increase the overall amount of cellular phosphocreatine (this is what creatine exists in cells as), which helps speed up the process of recycling ADP back into ATP.
Creatine transfers a high-energy phosphate from creatine phosphate to ADP to regenerate ATP. This means more energy and strength for workouts. It also means despite this Creatine is natty.
Creatine not only appears to benefit strength during intense exercise or resistance training (helping to contribute to increased lean mass gain) but also appears to be of benefit for mental fatigue and cognitive function.
This may be especially true for those who are vegan or vegetarian and intake less through dietary means, given that these prerequisite amino acids are found in high concentrations in meat and seafood.
Creatine is one of the most clinically studied, safe, and peer-reviewed supplements. There are well over five-hundred publications (according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine) regarding the various aspects of creatine supplementation, including its efficacy, safety, and tolerance.
Why Is Creatine Considered Natural?
Many people consider Creatine a “natural anabolic,” which might be a tad confusing for some people, as creatine doesn’t have anything to do with anabolic steroids. Even Allmax Nutrition themselves proclaim creatine to be the most trusted natural anabolic.
What exactly does this all mean?
Let us touch on anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are essentially a ‘synthetic’ version of androgenic hormones – most commonly testosterone– and are sometimes used with resistance training to enhance the speed of muscle mass gain and strength gain.
This increase comes from testosterone entering the muscle cells, binding with the “intracellular androgen receptor,” and increasing the expression of particular genes. This leads to increased ATP (adenosine triphosphate production).
Creatine, as a
Therefore, we can say that creatine functions physiologically in a similar way to steroids (and can help performance in the same way); they are not the same in the way they do this, nor are they categorized in the same way because of this.
Anabolic steroids have a different chemical structure than creatine and are blatantly considered prescription drugs as regulated by the FDA.
So, while many companies or bodybuilders may refer to creatine as a “natural anabolic,” – they might not be precisely correct, but they aren’t explicitly lying.
Creatine and Hair Loss – What Does the Science Say?
A quick cursory search around the internet for creatine will probably garner hundreds of results of men worried about creatine causing baldness, hair loss, or accelerating male pattern baldness.
Is any of this true? Is there any validity to these second-hand stories?
Creatine itself does not directly lead to hair loss. The science is clear on that, so we should establish that immediately.
Most men aren’t want to choose between being ripped and having a nice head of hair.
The primary connection between creatine, hair loss, and concern online comes down to a reasonably small study of Rugby players who were found to have increased conversion of testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
This shows that creatine may cause an elevation in a hormone (DHT) that can speed up the process of hair loss, but only in men predisposed to hair loss or male pattern baldness genetically.
The study does not explicitly link the two. In addition, the people in the study were taking quite a large serving size of 25g per day, compared to the recommended 5g. The study size is also quite small, profiling only 20 volunteers.
What is the connection of DHT to balding? In men, DHT can bind to potentially sensitive androgen receptors in hair follicles and cause them to ‘shrink.’
Any anecdotal stories of men online may be men taking a more significant amount of creatine long-term, who are at the same time genetically pre–disposed to hair loss or male pattern baldness.
Usually, these men also claim to recover any signs of thinning hair after stopping the creatine supplementation.
Those who have genuine concern over this can rest easy knowing that even if they are predisposed, the risk factor is minimal if they discontinue use when they notice anything awry with their hair.
Those with concerns need to understand that this study has not been replicated, and even intense workouts and training can cause similarly documented increases in these hormones (namely DHT).
Is Creatine the Right
Supplement for Me?
Only you can judge what works best for you, your needs, your fitness goals, and your physique. However, we want to make it clear, however, that creatine is an exceedingly safe
This is not to discredit them or waive their level of concern – what applies to them is likely to be irrelevant to you. Even if this is a concern based on family history, those that have discontinued use notice the side effects drop off with discontinuation.
Not only are creatine’s physical and strength-related benefits backed by mountains of scientific research, but creatine can also protect mitochondria and minimize oxidative stress– much more prominent a concern as we age.
It has been demonstrated that creatine supplementation can help improve cognition and neurological performance. The mechanism for this action? Improved brain efficiency and functioning via maintaining a healthy level of ATP.
This is especially significant for vegans or vegetarians who may have a naturally lower intake of creatine and those with brain conditions related to dysfunction in the brain energy system. This includes traumatic brain injuries like concussions, which can cause abrupt (acute) or long-term dysfunction.
In these individuals, creatine seems to improve memory recall and neurocognitive functioning.
Supplementation in older adults (even those who do not work out) was shown to protect against muscle loss and wasting. As we naturally grow older, energy levels can plummet, leaving the body susceptible to lower cognitive and physical function levels. Creatine can help with those smaller, daily tasks, too – even the energy required by the body to sit down or carry groceries.
In Conclusion: Is Creatine Natty
Make no mistake. Creatine is beneficial as a
Do you think Creatine is ‘natty’?
Let us know down in the comments below.