Cell-Tech has emerged as one of the most popular sports supplements in the bodybuilding world. This high-carb creatine blend claims to build size and strength, improve recovery time and boost athletic performance. The downside is that some of its ingredients carry potential side effects.
This sports supplement is likely safe for healthy individuals. However, some of its ingredients may worsen diabetes, kidney disease and other health conditions. Nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, water retention and bloating are all common side effects.
How Does Cell-Tech Work?
This bodybuilding supplement is based on creatine, an organic acid that supports physical performance and energy production. It also occurs naturally in the body and can be found in certain foods, such as beef and seafood. About 95 percent of it is stored in skeletal muscle, according to a July/August 2013 review published in Current Sports Medicine Reports. Your liver, pancreas and kidneys store creatine, too.
As a dietary supplement, this compound comes in several forms, including creatine monohydrate, creatine magnesium chelate, creatine citrate and creatine malate. Creatine monohydrate has been subject to hundreds of studies. According to the above review, it increases muscle strength and improves physical performance during short, high-intensity exercise. Its side effects are negligible.
Cell-Tech provides 3.5 grams of creatine monohydrate and 1.5 grams of creatine hydrochloride (HCl) per serving (one scoop). It also contains a mix of slow- and fast-digesting carbs, including dextrose, fructose, oat bran and quinoa.
Some studies suggest that taking creatine along with carbohydrates may enhance its efficacy. The research is conflicting, though.
For example, a small study featured in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in January 2018 found that creatine co-supplemented with carbs may improve physical performance in endurance athletes. Another study, however, which appeared in the journal Biology of Sport in January 2017, suggests that this combo is no better than creatine alone. Both these studies are limited in scope but are among the few that have analyzed the effects of combining creatine and carbs.
Cell-Tech also contains high doses of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). One serving provides more than 260 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B6 and over 200 percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C. It's also a good source of taurine, alanine and branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine).
Potential Benefits and Caveats
Creatine is one of the most researched supplements on the market. According to Current Sports Medicine Reports, this compound helps replenish muscle glycogen stores and increases cellular water retention, contributing to muscle growth. Furthermore, it may improve glucose metabolism and glycemic control due to its ability to reduce blood sugar levels.
Cell-Tech also contains branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs. Proponents say that these compounds relieve muscle soreness, improve recovery time and stimulate hypertrophy. Again, most studies are conflicting.
A review posted in the November 2014 edition of Nutricion Hospitalaria suggests that BCAAs may reduce muscle damage and pain as well as mental fatigue. At the same time, these nutrients may increase the anabolic response during recovery from training. However, they don't seem to improve exercise performance.
In April 2019, the journal Nature Metabolism revealed some surprising findings. As the researchers note, excessive consumption of BCAAs may promote obesity and weight gain, increase appetite and reduce life expectancy.
Another review, published in the journal Nutrients in July 2016, indicates that BCAAs improve metabolic health. However, they may contribute to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes when consumed in excess, although more research is needed to validate these claims.
Vitamin B6, one of the most abundant nutrients in Cell-Tech, regulates more than 100 enzyme reactions. It modulates immune function as well as protein and glucose metabolism. Low levels of this nutrient may lead to anemia, depression and impaired immunity, among other health issues.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), another key nutrient in this product, reduces oxidative damage due to its antioxidant effects. A meta-analysis published in Obesity Reviews in May 2013 suggests that it may also contribute to weight loss. However, human studies show no direct link between ALA and sports performance.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Except for creatine, most ingredients in Cell-Tech have negligible effects on muscle growth and athletic performance. Both creatine monohydrate and creatine HCI are considered safe and have minimal side effects when consumed in moderate doses.
The review featured in Current Sports Medicine Reports states that creatine may cause fluid retention and weight gain by pulling additional water into muscle cells. When used in large doses or combined with other products, it may affect the kidneys.
Creatine loading, a common practice among athletes, involves taking large doses of this supplement for up to one week. This can further increase water retention and elevate urinary levels of formaldehyde and methylamine, two compounds that may affect renal function. If you have kidney disease, creatine supplements might not be the best choice.
This compound may also have mild side effects like stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea. Additionally, it can interact with certain medications, including nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. These products are hard on the kidneys, so combining them with creatine can further affect renal health. You may also feel bloated and heavy because of fluid retention.
Cell-Tech is high in vitamin C. According to the National Institutes of Health, this nutrient may cause digestive distress when consumed in excess. Furthermore, individuals with renal disease should avoid taking too much vitamin C because it promotes the formation of kidney stones.
Beware of Added Sugars
Perhaps the biggest drawback of this product is its high content of dextrose, glucose and sucrose. These ingredients are nothing but sugar in disguise. Sucrose, for example, is just another name for table sugar. As the experts at Harvard Medical School note, high-sugar diets may contribute to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and fatty liver disease.
Cell-Tech contains creatine, simple sugars and high doses of vitamin C. For this reason, it may not be safe for individuals with certain conditions, such as kidney disease and diabetes.
Each scoop of Cell-Tech provides 15 grams of sugar. The manufacturer suggests taking two scoops per day for "better" results and four scoops per day for one week for "best" results. That's an extra 30 to 60 grams of sugar per day. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men.
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