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Creatine and Bulging Veins

by
author image Sirah Dubois
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.
Creatine and Bulging Veins
Creatine helps muscles contract. Photo Credit OlegUsmanov/iStock/Getty Images

Veins are close to the surface of the skin and carry deoxygenated blood from tissues back to the heart. Although most women try to prevent bulging veins, especially varicose veins caused by damage and inflammation, men usually welcome them, for aesthetic reasons. Many bodybuilders and other athletes strive for bigger, stronger muscles and bulging veins. Increased vascularity is a visible sign that often implies hard work in the gym, strength and masculinity. However, some people are just naturally more vascular due to genetics. Those who aren’t naturally vascular need to employ some basic strategies, and creatine supplements can help. Consult with your doctor before supplementing with creatine.

Creatine Explained

Creatine monohydrate is an amino acid used by your body to contract muscles. It’s produced in your liver, pancreas and kidneys from the metabolism of other amino acids, but dietary sources are important for increasing muscle strength and size. Once produced or ingested, creatine is stored mainly in your muscles, where it’s converted into energy during high-intensity muscle contractions. In essence, creatine gives your muscles a boost of energy and allows the fibers to contract with greater force and longer duration, according to “Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance.” Consequently, bodybuilders and other athletes commonly supplement with creatine to increase their muscle mass and strength more efficiently. No long-term studies have been conducted on creatine, so you should limit your consumption to less than 20 grams daily.

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Sources of Creatine

As noted, some creatine is synthesized in your body, but muscle tissue and animal livers are the richest food source of the amino acid. As such, meat, fish, pork and poultry are the best sources of creatine, especially organic or “wild” varieties, according to the “Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition.” Vegetarians typically have significantly less creatine stored in their muscles than meat eaters do. Bodybuilders and other competitive athletes often prefer to supplement their diets with creatine monohydrate powder to ensure their muscle tissue is saturated with the amino acid during workouts. The powder can be mixed with liquids, such as juice or smoothies.

Creatine for Bulging Veins

Creatine is a mild vasodilator, which means it relaxes and increases the diameter of blood vessels so more oxygen and nutrients reach the muscle tissue. Vasodilation affects arteries more than veins, although the more blood that enters muscle tissue from arteries, the more will exit via the veins, which might lead to some bulging. Furthermore, creatine tends to increase water retention in skeletal muscle, which often increases vascularity by pushing the veins closer to the surface of your skin. In an indirect way, creatine promotes bulging veins because it allows for more-intense weightlifting, which “pumps up” muscle tissue and puts pressure on blood vessels.

Other Strategies

Veins tend to stand out or bulge more in lean people, so reducing the layer of fat between the skin and muscle is a practical strategy. Intense workouts burn more calories and promote fat loss. Increasing the weight and repetitions of your workout tends to temporarily increase blood pressure and make veins bulge. Eliminating retained water with a low-salt diet will also highlight your muscle definition and vascularity better. Furthermore, other supplements display vasodilating properties such as arginine and nitric acid, which are sometimes combined with creatine.

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