If you’ve been listening to the news or reading up on various sporting updates, you might be familiar with steroids. Most of the time, what we hear is somebody gets banned from a sport or publicly shunned because of using steroids. It’s a bit confusing but the general idea is that a steroid is something that one takes illegally to get stronger, bigger or faster. Which begs the question, are all things that make us “bigger” steroids? Take Creatine for example. It is a common substance we see and hear inside gyms that people swear will make you bigger, so is creatine a steroid? Should we be wary of it?
What is Creatine
Here at Fitbits, we really encourage our customers to ask questions and be doubtful of what they hear and see on sales pages. One of the more common questions we get is with regards to creatine and whether it is considered a steroid.
First, let’s try to discuss what it is and why people take it.
We are familiar with Creatine as something gym rats and athletes take to be “stronger”. It is usually available in powder form and is mixed with liquids to be ingested. Scientifically speaking, it is a tripeptide compound. It is made up of three amino acids and is a fuel source for ATP.
For Creatine users, the substance shines during high-intensity training and activities that need explosive energy. This includes various sports like basketball, football, and sprinting.
Another benefit of Creatine is that it helps athletes and gym buffs gain more muscle mass. In theory, it makes you add more weight. But if you support creatine intake with an increased workload, the initial water weight can easily transform into muscles as it also increases protein synthesis in the muscles.
What Are Steroids?
In a nutshell, steroids are synthetic hormones meant to treat certain illnesses. There are two kinds of steroids namely Corticosteroids and Anabolic Steroids. Corticosteroids are the stuff we might not know we bump into on a daily basis. They are used to treat allergic reactions and other autoimmune diseases. One good example is Cortisone.
Anabolic Steroids, on the other hand, is the one that we are more familiar with. In general, anabolic steroids work the same way as testosterone. They are usually given to people who experience muscle loss (patients with AIDS and cancer) or those who experience late puberty. Due to the fact that it works just like the male sex hormones but faster and better, athletes use it illegally to force their bodies to gain more muscle.
Another benefit one can get from steroids is that anabolic steroids can block the stress hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is the one that causes you to feel tired and fatigued because it breaks down muscle tissues. Without Cortisol, this means athletes don’t have to worry about downtime when they go into training overdrive.
Is Creatine a Steroid?
Now we go to the question at hand. Is Creatine a Steroid or is it something else?
Well, it is not a steroid both on the scientific and social sense. It doesn’t follow the common structure of all steroids and it does not influence hormones as explicit as steroids. By all definitions, creatine is not a steroid.
If it’s not a steroid then what is it?
Well, if we really want to compare it to anything then it will be more logical to call it “like that of an essential vitamin or mineral”. This is because creatine is important in our body and is very common in the food we eat. Although it is not really an essential vitamin in the sense that you don’t really need to take it to survive, the effect of creatine to the body is more like that of a vitamin than a steroid.