Is creatine going to improve your training results?

Occasionally someone asks my personal trainers about supplements, specifically protein and creatine.

Today I write  about creatine. Research over the last couple of years has come to the conclusion that creatine is a supplement that can help you with your training performance, given that the training has a high intensity and short duration (15-30s). Especially people
who have a low baseline of phosphocreatine, like vegetarians seem to profit from the supplement but even in non-vegetarians the strength and performance increases have been significant.

 

Creatine Supplementation

Here are a couple of  effects of creatine supplementation:

  • significantly increased muscle mass after strength training regimen
  • significantly increased strength, although not with 1 RM activities.
  • a chronic supplementation of creatine seems to protect against traumatic brain injury (study was done on mice, so not sure how much that relates to humans)
  • it does not seem to have a positive effect on endurance sports with exception of the sprint/spurt phase of that particular sport
  • creatine-dextrose and protein-dextrose combinations create similar strength gains
  • potential decrease in mental fatigue
  • negative effects can be, diarrhea, cramping, increased water retention
  • in people with renal dysfunction creatine supplementation can progress the disease.
  • Creatine could potentially exacerbate allergic lung inflammation and airway remodeling in mice. Again the question is how far does that relate to humans but I am sure I would not recommend anyone with lung issues to take creatine.
  • there seem to be no long-term ill effects of creatine supplementation in healthy athletes

Administering creatine supplementation

The studies I have looked at seemed inconclusive but it seems that there is a loading phase of about 4x 4-5g/day for 2-4 days and then a consistent loading of 2.5-6 g/day from there on. Some articles recommend that the daily dose for recreational athletes should not exceed the natural phosphocreatine turnover of 2.5-3g/day. Healthy athletes that submit daily to high intensity strength- or sprint training should have a maximum dose of 5-6g/day for less than 2 weeks according to the article. Newer research suggests that taking 15.75g/day for 5 days and 5-10g/day thereafter has no negative effects on healthy athletes over the course of 21 months.

Conclusion

I am a personal trainer not a dietitian and as such not allowed to tell you what you should or should not do. But personally I feel that ta

 

king creatine is safe if you are healthy and I do not object to my clients taking it. Most athletes I would wager would benefit from cleaning up their diet first before going for supplements. Once that baseline is established I feel that protein and creatine supplementation can be useful tools for improving your performance and results. Endurance athletes, especially ultra-endurance athletes do not benefit from creatine supplementation since spurts and sprints are not that important and the additional water weight might be detrimental overall.

I personally would go with a loading phase of 15 g per day for 4 days and then a low dose of 4-5g/day. That is my personal opinion though.

Yours,

Michael Anders

Head Trainer Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting

Anomasiri et al. (2004). Low dose creatine supplementation enhances sprint phase of 400 meters swimming performance. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. Vol 87 (2), pp. 228-232.

Burke et al. (2003). Effect of creatine and weight training on muscle creatine and performance in vegetarians. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, Vol. 35 (11), pp. 1946-1955.

Benzi, Gianni (2000). Is there a rationale for the use of creatine either as nutritional supplementation or drug administration in humans participating a sport? Pharmacological Research, Vol 41 (3), pp. 255-264

Edmunds et al (2001). Creatine supplementation Increases Renal Disease Progression in Han:SPRD-cy Rats. American Journal of Kidney Diseases. Vol. 37 (1). pp. 73-78.

Engelhardt et al. (1998). Creatine supplementation in endurance sports. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Vol. 30 (7), pp. 1123-1129.

Francaux, M. & Poortmans, J.R. (1999). Effects of training and creatine supplement on muscle strength and body mass. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology. Vol 80 (2). pp. 165-168.

Izquierdo et al (2002). Effects of creatine supplementation on muscle power, endurance and sprint performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Vol. 34 (2) pp. 332-343.

Kreider et al. (2003) Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Vol. 244 (1-2), pp. 95-104.

Lemkuhl et al (2003). The effects of 8 weeks of creatine monohydrate and glutamine supplementation on body composition and performance measures. Jouranl of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. Vol. 17 (3), pp. 425-438.

Poortmans, J.R.  Francaux (1999). Long-term oral creatine supplementation does not impair renal function in healthy athletes. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. Vol. 31 (8), pp. 1108-1110.

Radolpho et al. (2007). Creatine supplementation Exacerbates Allergic Lung Inflammation and Airway Remodeling in Mice. American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology. Vol. 37 (6), pp 660-667.

Sullivan et al (2000). Dietary supplement creatine protects against traumatic brain injury. Annals of Neurology. Vol. 48 (5) 723-729.

Tarnopolsky et al. (2001). Creatine-dextrose and protein-dextrose induce similar strength gains during training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Vol 33 (12). pp. 2044-2052

Vandendberghe et al (1997). Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training. Journal of Applied Physiology. Vol 83. (6), pp 2055-2063.

Watanabe et al. (2002) Efects of creatine on mental fatigue and cerebra hemoglobin oxygenation. Neuroscience Research. Vol 42 (4). pp. 279-285

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