Posted on 09 September 2018
Increased strength, power output, and cognitive capacity in one safe supplement? Sounds like a scam? That’s not what over 40 years of research has to say. A recent systematic review published in the Journal of Sports Medicine is supporting all the evidence on creatine and its undeniable potential in human performance enhancement.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a small peptide (a protein molecule) composed of the amino acids glycine and arginine. The primary action of creatine in a physiological system is to re-energize ATP, the major energy currency in the body. This readily available ATP is crucial for short bursts of explosive muscular contractions and a plethora of other metabolic activities that require an energy source.
How do I get Creatine?
Creatine is naturally produced by the liver and the kidneys, however, there has been a stack of evidence compiled to suggest that the consumption of dietary creatine is required to reap the full physiological benefits for most people.
Creatine can be consumed through the diet. Wild red meats, eggs and some fresh fish like salmon and tuna contain significant amounts of intramuscular creatine. However, in order to get 5g of creatine through diet, an individual would have to consume almost 1.2kg of beef per day. And unless you are completely carnivorous, this would be a difficult task indeed. Instead, most athletes and patients opt for a concentrated supplemental creatine that usually comes in a powdered format.
What Type, How Much?
The majority of research has measured the effect of creatine monohydrate, which has been proven to be the cheapest and most effective form of supplemental creatine. There are a plethora of creatine loading and maintenance intake protocols distributed across both media and research articles. The international society of sports nutrition suggested that ” the most effective way to increase muscle creatine stores is to ingest 5g of creatine monohydrate (or approximately 0.3g/kg of body weight) four times daily for 5-7 days. Once muscle creatine stores are fully saturated, creatine stores can generally be maintained by ingesting 3-5g daily.”
What Can Creatine do For Me?
What can’t creatine do is the real question. From increases in strength, power and athletic performance to an increase in cognitive ability, this is one mighty supplement. The review published in the Sports Medicine Journal found that subjects that supplemented with creatine were stronger in a variety of lifts including the squat, bench press and leg press. Another study showed that athletes who supplemented with creatine were faster in the 15m sprint on average.
Cognitively, creatine has also been proven to significantly improve random number generation, spatial recall and long-term memory in elderly subjects. Furthermore, creatine has been found to help manage symptoms in those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.
Creatine and Carbohydrates
To see the benefits of creatine supplementation even faster, consume creatine with at least 15g of fast-acting carbohydrates like those found in orange juice or Powerade that increase the load of insulin secretions and channel more creatine into the tissues.
Who uses it?
Although creatine was usually used exclusively by bodybuilders and athletes, now patients with neurodegenerative diseases and cardiovascular ailments are jumping onboard. There has also been a significant jump in the number of recreational athletes and gym-goers that are experimenting with creatine supplements.
Is it safe?
Over 40 years worth of studies have shown negligible side effects when creatine is consumed appropriately. The only exception is the fraction of users that experience some bloating and other minor gastrointestinal symptoms. It is generally advised to increase water consumption while supplementing with creatine due to its ability to draw water into muscle tissue.
So what are you waiting for?
Disclaimer– This product is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from healthcare practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.
Jules Rosenstein is a Bachelor of Science with a major in physiology from the University of Melbourne. His personal ambition is to improve himself and others holistically through motivation, discipline and education. He is currently studying a Masters Degree in Dietetics and Nutrition.