Creatine is a popular supplement many athletes use to help aid in gains of strength and endurance. It is also one of the most researched topics in supplementation aside from protein. Many people are confused as to it's benefits: Is it safe? Does it make you gain weight? When is the best time to take it? What is the best form to take it? Lets dig deep into the research that has been made available.
Creatine has been a staple supplement in athletes, known to double your strength and muscle gains. Creatine is naturally found mostly within our body's muscles, to produce energy for those heavy lifts or high intensity exercises. Supplementing will not only help to increase these stores for more ATP production, reduces muscle breakdown, enhance protein synthesis, and increase water retention of muscles, making them look fuller. Increased ATP production equates to higher muscle function.
Body weight has been known to increase a few pounds (or up to 2% of body weight) mainly within the first couple of days. This is due osmotic stimulation of intracellar water retention. In smaller terms, it's mainly water weight which is gained. Studies have shown that during the loading phase of supplementation, there was a reduction in active range of motion in ankle dorsiflexion and shoulder flexion. This is due to increased water retention in the cells which leads to increased muscle stiffness.
Creatine comes in different forms, however creatine monohydrate is likely to be the most effective and cheapest option. It can also be found naturally in foods such as red meat, pork, and some fish. Dosing has been recommended to first loading phase 20-25g servings throughout the day (5g roughly every 4 hours) for the first 5-7 days, and then 3-5g per day for maintenance. High doses for several weeks can continue to raise creatine levels while the excess will harmlessly be filtered out into the urine. The addition of carbohydrates with creatine supplementation seems to increased creatine uptake into muscles through an insulation stimulation effect, but the effect on performance may not be greater. Small doses of 3-5 grams per day initially with increase creatine stores over a 3-4 week period, but less supported.
The addition of carbohydrates with creatine supplementation seems to increased creatine uptake into muscles through an insulation stimulation effect, but the effect on performance may not be greater. Small doses of 3-5 grams per day initially with increase creatine stores over a 3-4 week period, but less supported.
In a 4-week and 32-week study on the timing of supplementation, 5g of creatine post-workout had greater benefits in gaining muscle and loss of fat compared to pre-exercise. However, more research is still needed to address the issue of proper timing.
There has been concerns raised about the safety or side effects of supplementation from short term or long term use. As a positive, creatine monohydrate may lessen the incidence of injury during exercise. It has shown to have therapeutic benefits for both healthy and sick individuals. There has been no scientific evidence that use has any detrimental effects on the body whether it be long or short term. It should also be noted that the incidence of muscle cramping, strains, dehydration, or stress on the kidneys has been overstated in a no-placebo controlled group study as been reported.
In conclusion, creatine monohydrate has been the most effective ergogenic supplement in terms of increasing high intensity capacity and lean muscle mass. It is also the most studied and effective form of creatine out there. Interestingly, creatine supplementation does not help prevent or attenuate the loss of muscle mass during short term disuse or immobilization of that muscle.
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