If ever you took BIO 110 with Dr. Anthony Olek, you probably know that creatine-phosphate participates in a coupled reaction with ADP to form ATP, the body’s favorite energy source. There’s also a good, though unrelated, chance that you think creatine is a steroid.

The first time creatine-phosphate came up in class, Olek commented that many athletes used creatine to help with energy and muscle development; he subsequently asked, by a show of hands, whether anyone in the lecture had taken creatine before. The looks of terror and condemnation were rampant, and dervishes of whispers brewed around the room to the tune of: “Who here would take steroids?” “But that’s illegal!” “That’s cheating!” Not a single hand went up, probably because anyone who had taken creatine (myself included) was teetering on the edge of the fight or flight response.

I suspect that these occasionally-humorous, oft-aggravating misconceptions stem from a question world-famous bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman once answered: “Ronnie, are you natural (i.e. not on steroids)?” Coleman answered, “No, I take dat dere Cell-Tech.” Cell-Tech is a creatine product. Granted, the product label makes outrageous claims, like “Gain seven pounds of rock-solid jacked muscle fibra in seven days!”

Nonetheless, Cell-Tech has only two components: sugar and creatine, which consists of the amino acids arginine, glycine and methonine. Oh, the pain in my biologically-trained mind. Coleman planted the seed and the creatine-using athletes and bodybuilders reap the ignorance. All in all, it’s better that inductees to the iron game are loading creatine than popping D-Bol, but it’s the willingness to make professional bodybuilders the paragons of truth and virtue that worries me.

There has always been too much of a direct connection between recreational bodybuilders and professionals. A look through the magazine shelves at any convenience store or grocery can show you the truth of this statement. Countless muscle mags offer you tips, workouts, diet macros and so-called secrets of the pros. Some take the material of these magazines as gospel, much like they crave creatine because it is Ronnie Coleman’s steroid of choice.

It becomes all too easy to forget that the buff, bronze guys we see posing in banana hammocks have ber-human genetics, they’ve worked anywhere from 10 to 20 years to achieve their physiques and they have the benefit of expensive steroid cocktails. No, Jay Cutler’s body does not look like huge slabs of beef chuck taped to a skeleton because he endorses Cell-Tech; he’s huge because he’s on enough ‘roids to give any woman mutton chops.

I hate to break it to you, but there’s no way a trainee could add an inch to his biceps in a matter of workouts, as Muscular Development tells him he can, without some help from a few methylated friends.

This kind of growth does take some time, but time is one thing that a lot of recreational bodybuilders don’t want to spend. It’s not for a lack of motivation; the fact that the imposing forms of bodybuilders are so omnipresent, and that supplements promise to bestow those physiques upon all who use them, are what tempt new lifters to seek the easy way out.

So I guess Ronnie Coleman is Darth Vader and Muscular Development is Emperor Palpatine, looking to lure unsuspecting young Jedi down the quick, easy path to ultimate power. Unfortunately, the dark side of this force gets even darker: people seem willing to try anything and, for some, drugs like steroids are an (un)natural progression from supplements like creatine. So be smart and be patient. There are no miracle drugs out there that will burn body fat and build muscle, regardless of whether professional athletes endorse them or not. If such drugs existed, we would all be ripped.

I’m just waiting for Security to bust into my room and demand that I hand over all illicit drugs, after taking a look at the tub of creatine sitting on my bureau.

Deland is a member of the class of 2010.

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