30 Jan 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.
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.
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.
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