For as long as I can remember, supplements in any professional sports have been somewhat of a minefield. What can and cannot be taken and what is contained within has been the subject of much discussion. So can UFC fighters take creatine and other related supplements?
Creatine is found naturally in our bodies and aids in the building of muscle. So it is used widely by professional athletes, especially bodybuilders to aid them in competition muscle gains. And so it is also legal for UFC fighters to use in their training.
The issue today with any supplements is that of contamination. As most of these supplements are produced in bulk alongside several other similar products. What can and has happened all too many times is that ingredients from one product find it’s way into another. Cross contaminating that product with banned substances that do not appear on the products label.
USADA Banned Substances
Now as you will be well aware, mixed martial arts is not bodybuilding. And while many UFC fighters have bodies which could rival that of a professional bodybuilder. They fall under some very different rules and regulations when it comes to what they can and cannot put into their bodies.
Professional fighting or any sanctioned fighting for that matter is a dangerous activity. So as a result, over the years the measures imposed to ensure fighters safety have become more and more pronounced.
And USADA or US anti-doping agency and the UFC itself have been at the forefront of these improvements. With their ever-expanding list of banned substances, they have sought to clean up what many perceived as a dirty sport.
But along with these improvements have come many pitfalls. As UFC fighters continue to use a range of supplements. Many have fallen foul, either knowingly or unwittingly to tainted products such as creatine.
As the product is produced on mass in factories alongside other similar supplements. What has now repeatedly happened is that many UFC fighters have failed their tests for banned substances. Found in products they have been using during their training such as creatine.
So while many fighters do continue to use it, alongside a range of other supplementary techniques and diet. Creatine along with many others has fallen out of favour, as fighters seek to move with the times. And choose improvements in their own training and eating over bodybuilding supplements.
With that being said, creatine continues to be one of the most popular supplements for sports athletes in the world. And when used correctly has proven results, hence its undeniable popularity.
The UFC Good Old Days
If you look at some of the old school UFC fights, you will notice that several of the fighters were heavily muscle-bound. Back then many fighters went for strength over endurance. Choosing to pile on the pounds of muscle using products like creatine. With an aim to overpower their opponents as opposed to beating them with skill.
However, as the sport has developed along with knowledge in the field of supplements and diet. Most if not all have moved away from this approach, instead choosing to focus on functional strength and improved cardio.
In fact, it was one of the sports Hall of Fame athletes, Mark Coleman. Who commented on his lack of cardio during his fight against Pete Williams. That caused him to change his own bodybuilder’s approach to how he trained.
This does not mean that supplements which aid in the development of muscle mass are still not being used. But just that a more holistic, all-encompassing approach to how fighters manage their bodies performance.
The Benefits Of Creatine
As creatine is naturally created by our own bodies, it absolutely has benefits if used correctly. But it is for many people how they use it along with other similar performance-enhancing supplements which can lead to negative effects.
Benefits include improved muscle strength and muscle mass if used in conjunction with exercise. So you can see why UFC fighters would want to incorporate it into their training regimes. While some people’s bodies react negatively like feeling nauseous, for the most part, it is safe to use.
Supplementing its use alongside exercise leads to our muscles creating more energy. So as a result leads to all-round better workouts. Helping to maximise any potential gains in an athletes training.
It’s Side Effects
As mentioned previously, creatine was a main part of many UFC fighters training regimes. And as it is unregulated it was up to the fighters themselves as to how much of it they consumed. So with that, there have been some instances of health issues relating to it’s incorrect or overuse.
We already know that it can lead to nausea, especially stomach cramping when used without water. And there has been at least one reported incident of a UFC fighter suffering kidney failure while using creatine during a pre-fight weight cut.
The weight cutting process requires fighters not to ingest and water for up to 24 hours before a fight. Resulting in extreme dehydration as the body searches for any morsel of H2O it can find. Add in a supplement which should not be used without water and you are asking for something bad to happen.
The general consensus is that creatine is relatively safe when used correctly and in moderation. The issue when it comes to UFC fighters is that it can and has often led to failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs.
Professional athletes need to be 100% sure that what they are putting in their bodies is not contaminated. And while UFC fighters can and do use creatine. What they cannot be sure of is that it does not contain other substances banned by the sports governing bodies.
This is where the issue lies now and will continue to do so going forward. If UFC fighters can find a source for the product that can guarantee there are zero contaminants. Then those producers will no doubt reap the benefits of new customers.
However, if we continue to see issues with failed drugs tests. Then we will no doubt continue to see fighters looking for alternative ways to supplement their training regimes. For better or worse it will be a normal reaction to those looking to avoid any potential incidents that can hurt their career.