|I agree that a good way of looking at the creatine issue is through a risk/reward analysis. Within this framework, a few reasonable conclusions can be drawn. First, one has to assume that creatine does indeed work. IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBT WHATSOEVER about it working, don't take it, period. Second, I am convinced that a large portion of the realized gains come from the psychological lift of taking it (you get psyched up). If I am right about this, why not take half the "recommended" dose while working out really hard? If your body is the type that responds to creatine, then you will see obvious benefits (with less risk). If you don't get decent results, then you can conclude that the product does not work well enough (for you) to justify the risks.
Third, and perhaps most important -- I truly believe that the "reward" side of this equation is being over-played here. If you are NOT a professional athlete, or playing high school/college sports, or a model/actor that appears on magazine covers, why risk potentially serious injury? Of course, even if you are a hard-core athlete (or perhaps even a professional trainer in a gym), you may still decide against taking creatine. At least in one of those cases, I can imagine how difficult a decision it must be. In other words, for these people the "reward" is so much more substantial that the risk can be justified, even if it turns out in the end to be the wrong decision. For the rest of us, the many thousands or perhaps even millions of people who fall into a different category, why bother with creatine? THE RISK/REWARD PAYOFF SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF US WHO DON'T MAKE A LIVING BASED UPON OUR LEVEL OF FITNESS.
Lots of analogies come to mind...If you were wealthy (say, a net worth of $10 million). Would you risk ALL OF THAT WEALTH to become worth $25 million in a relatively short amount of time? Sounds good, that's a big increase in wealth, but what's the point? Wouldn't it make more sense to be happy with the $10 million and continue to invest prudently over the long-term?
Another example -- Laser eye surgery. I think that the procedure has come a long way and am seriously considering it for my eyes. However, I will wait a few years until more conclusive evidence either proves or disproves the longer-term impact on the eyes of those who jumped in early. If it proves to be safe, then I will have wasted five years by being overly cautious -- not that big a deal in my mind.
Analogy #3 -- The Atkins diet. Over the short-term, the Atkins diet generally works for most people. Recall that the Atkins diet is a very low carb diet. The problem is that it is very difficult to sustain that eating lifestyle over the long-term.
What's my point here? I fear that creatine is most likely "safe" for 1 or 2 months, but I am highly unsure about periods much longer than that. How many of us have said, "I'll just use it for 8 weeks, workout like a mad-man, get the initial gains, and then go off of it...." Very dangerous plan. If it is working for you, you won't stop.
Final thought: Don't extrapolate the experience of yourself and/or a few others into a belief that the rest of the world will react the same way as you. Even if creatine is your secret weapon, a wonder supplement, don't encourage others to use it. Instead, encourage them to do their own research and to consider the risks and rewards for themselves.
Just my opinion. I am not an expert on this or any other topic. I am just an individual who used creatine for six weeks and experienced significant gains in strength, with no adverse side effects. I WILL NEVER USE IT AGAIN unless, over time, it is proven to a very high degree of certainty to be safe.
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