Supplementation: Natural Vs. Unnatural.

Natural. What exactly is that? The body produces protein, glutamine and creatine so they must be natural. How do we make them unnatural.

Back in High School creatine was a buzzword for controversy. There was always someone was on it and everyone knew, someone else who used it and kept it secret and then there were the "why can't you roid jockeys just work out the natural way?" people. I am no biochemist (yet) but creatine hardly deserves the bad press that it has received. Some big arguments against the case are "but its not natural" with the big rebuttal "yes it is." Some others are, "you don't know the long term effects" and "why don't you just work harder?" In reality, creatine is just the tip of the iceberg. Creatine is the Marilyn Manson of bodybuilding, in that no-one really knows just how bad or good it is for you but it's the most recent and publicised of a wide range of supplements and therefore takes the brunt of the criticism.

Natural. What exactly is that? The body produces protein, glutamine and creatine so they must be natural. How do we make them unnatural? Do we combine them with Alpha Lipotic Acids, or perhaps with each other to maximise uptake? There is a thin line between natural and unnatural. Methane is a natural gas, but it can also be produced in the lab. Does that make the methane naturally produced any different to the artificially produced methane? There are still four hydrogens and one carbon. There is no difference. But because we have made it in a laboratory, perhaps we have jinxed it, as many people seem to think.

"No, that's unnatural we'd better get the natural one."

Who has heard people say this in shopping centres? It's as if mankind has a Midas touch. Yes, we are not perfect, but we are not stupid. A dangerous supplement is bad for business, and believe it or not, scientists are not out to dupe you. That said; do not trust the label of a supplement bottle implicitly. If you buy supplements from a trusted and establish company, after doing research on the supplement and you are fully convinced that you take it without risking your health then I don't see any reason for worry. With creatine, side effects are only borne from irresponsible use. If you follow the instructions then you can trust the scientists and doctors who have endorsed the product. The medical industry has had success with "unnatural" products for years. Making supplements is a science, and not something taken lightly.

"Why don't you just work harder?"

A dedicated bodybuilder can rebut this comment with one line. "Why do you assume I am not working hard already?" Muscle growth is a mysterious thing, and sometimes as individual as a fingerprint. Creatine is not a short cut to bigger biceps but a means to an end. Creatine gives you that extra edge, but you have to accept it. If you are not willing to push yourself then the creatine will not help you, all you will be doing is lining the pockets of the supplement companies. Also, if you are not already working as hard as you possibly can than you are not ready for supplements. Supplementation not backed up by hard, muscle tearing work is an incredible waste of time and money. So if you can't answer, "Why do you assume I am not working hard already?" then put the creatine, glutamine and the rest of them back in the cupboard and learn how to push yourself.

"Once you start where will you stop?"

The big fear is that creatine (and other supplements) is the first step on the path to dangerous anabolic steroids. If you decide you want to move on to that level, it is best to understand all the health risks. Do not be fooled by labels on bottles. "Natural Steroids" and "Maximum Potency, Minimum Side Effects" should just be looked at as company logo's and not a promise of no health risk. In all fairness though, you cannot say that because someone purchases one supplement he will be more likely to buy another. At the end of the day it is the choice of the user, and this is where the trust of one's judgement is important. In conclusion, I'd like to point out that I believe in the power of the human mind. Once someone gets an idea in their head, it takes more than a single article on the Internet to change their mind. But do not base your opinions of supplements on a blind faith in their muscle building value, and conversely do not condemn them because they did not fall out of a tree. Base you opinions on hard facts. If you have doubts then ask yourself where you can find for information on the topic. Do not go with the crowd, go with the truth. Natural is nice, but that does not mean that "natural" is not.

Now get back to work.