Athletes and trainees need to stay active and find a faster way to make it happen. So, we turn towards synthetic products made for a boost.
To make bigger muscles, you might want anything illegal as steroids. But more often, people get confused with creatine, thinking they are safer steroids.
But creatine vs. steroids is vastly different.
Creatine is a natural compound extracted and made into synthetic products for gaining energy. Steroids are artificial drugs that increase muscles and strength. They differ in their roles, composition, and effects on the body. Most significantly, steroids aren’t suitable for long-term use like creatine.
Find out the differences between creatine and steroids to understand better which one to choose and clear confusion.
Creatine vs. Steroids: How Do They Differ?
While creatine is found naturally and made synthetically available for supplementation, steroids are synthetic hormones mimicking the effects of testosterone. Creatine is used to gain energy and grow bigger muscles through exercise. Steroids reflect the same results as testosterone, providing strength and larger muscles when taken orally or by injection.
Both of them are associated with athletic performance and muscle development. However, the two have significant differences in their effects, mechanisms of action, and potential risks.
Here is a comparison table of creatine and steroids:
|Made up of amino acids
|Made up of four conjoined cycloalkane rings
|Legal to purchase and use
|Illegal in most countries
|Mild, such as stomach cramps and diarrhea
|Serious, such as liver damage, heart problems, and infertility
|It can increase muscle mass and strength
|It can increase muscle mass and strength much more than creatine
|Duration of effects
|Short-term (weeks to months)
|It can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, depression, and mood swings
|Risk of addiction
|For healthy adults who are looking to improve their athletic performance
|For competitive athletes who are looking to gain a competitive edge
Now, let’s get into the details.
Creatine is found in small amounts in the body and foods. As a supplement, we get a lot of creatine from a single dose for gaining more energy to enhance exercise performance, increase muscle strength and power, and support muscle recovery.
Steroids are taken the same way as drugs to increase muscle mass, improve athletic performance, and enhance physical appearance.
Creatine works by increasing the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for greater energy. It allows intense exercise for better performance.
Steroids bind to androgen receptors in the body, promoting protein synthesis and inhibiting protein breakdown. It leads to increased muscle mass and strength.
Creatine is a legal dietary supplement accessible for purchase over the counter and is allowed for use in sports by most athletic governing bodies.
Using steroids for non-medical purposes is illegal in many countries without a valid prescription. They can lead to drug abuse and adverse health effects.
There are no risks in creatine consumption. However, high doses or long-term use may lead to potential side effects such as –
So, follow recommended dosages and stay adequately hydrated. Check how much water to drink while on creatine.
Steroid use carries significant health risks. Short-term effects may include-
- Mood swings,
- high blood pressure,
- liver damage,
- cardiovascular problems.
On the other hand, long-term use can lead to more severe complications, including-
- hormonal imbalances,
- decreased fertility,
- psychiatric disorders,
- increased risk of heart disease.
Structurally, creatine consists of three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine, which are connected by peptide bonds.
On the other hand, steroids contain a mixture of four conjoined cycloalkane rings.
Many forms of creatine are available; creatine monohydrate is the most popular. You can take it in powder forms, capsules, or gummies. You can also mix it with juice, tea, oats, etc. However, drinking a lot of water is vital for proper digestion.
To take steroids, we can either take them orally with water like a drug or inject them directly into the bloodstream. Injections are safer if used sterile as they reduce liver damage possibilities.
Effects on Muscles
When you take creatine, you will increase ATP to have more energy for intense workouts. You can remain active throughout the day as you make more creatine reserves. The more you exercise, the more you gain muscle mass.
After exercise, steroids in the body will help to decrease pain, redness, and swelling from heavy exercise and activity. But you can also gain muscles without any exercise.
Creatine Or Steroid: Benefits And Drawbacks
Here are the pros and cons of creatine and steroid to make your choice thoughtful.
Here are the pros and cons of ingesting creatine.
|Benefits Of Creatine
|Drawbacks Of Creatine
|Increase in muscle mass and strength
Improved exercise performance
Enhanced muscle recovery
Better brain function
Increased water content in muscle cells
Faster recovery from injuries.
|Causes gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, diarrhea, or cramping.
It can cause water retention within the muscles and dehydration.
It might make you suffer from muscle strains or cramps.
It might impact kidney and liver functions.
Some may experience allergic reactions.
Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of using steroids.
|Benefits Of Steroids
|Drawbacks Of Steroids
|Rapid muscle growth
Faster recovery from muscle injuries
Improved strength and performance
Treatment for hormone deficiencies
Cause reduction of inflammation.
|Adverse cardiovascular effects
Increased aggression and mood swings
Acne and skin problems
Infertility and reproductive issues
Higher risk of blood clots
Hair loss and baldness
Development of breast tissue in males
Legal consequences and potential bans from sports competitions.
Is Creatine a Natural Steroid?
Creatine has a completely different chemical structure; it is not an anabolic steroid. A substance must contain a core structure of four fused rings of carbon atoms to be classified as a steroid.
Creatine is natural, while steroids are synthetic substances that mimic the effects of the hormone testosterone. Despite being associated with athletic performance, they have different properties, functions, and potential bodily impacts. So, you can’t consider creatine as a steroid.
Can You Take Creatine and Steroids Together?
It is generally not recommended to take creatine and steroids together. Combining these substances can increase the potential risks and side effects associated with each. Steroid use carries significant health risks, and adding creatine might accelerate damage.
Additionally, the use of anabolic steroids is illegal without any medical prescription. So, consult with a healthcare professional if you need both.
Is Creatine Safe for Teens?
The use of creatine among teenagers is a matter of controversy. Although creatine is considered safe for adults at proper dosages, there is limited research on its safety for teenagers. Teenagers should seek guidance from a healthcare professional before considering using creatine supplements.
Does creatine work as an ergogenic aid?
Yes, creatine is widely recognized as an effective ergogenic aid. Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that creatine supplementation can enhance athletic performance in various sports and activities. By replenishing ATP stores more rapidly, creatine supplementation can improve muscular strength, power output, and exercise capacity.
Is creatine considered a drug?
Athletes striving for peak performance often turn to different supplements that are safer than steroids. It works the same way as a drug to provide bursts of energy. You can get it over the counter at drug stores, nutrition stores, supermarkets, and online platforms.
So, creatine isn’t a safer steroid; it only provides enough energy to increase muscle mass. On the other hand, steroids directly work to make muscles bigger. It means that creatine intake regularly might offer slower results, but it’s safer to ingest.
Steroids are illegal for your health. They are banned in many countries from taking without a medical prescription. Creatine doesn’t have restrictions. However, talking to your doctor before taking anything is safer if you want creatine or steroids.
Visit our blogs to learn more about safe supplementation.
I started my professional career as a sports medicine consultant in Rola, Missouri. My primary role was to suggest suitable supplements for my patients according to their pre-existing conditions and lifestyle goals. I believe a healthy lifestyle is the most important if you want to make your life really meaningfull.