One of the most heavily researched supplements in the history of sports
nutrition (over 200 studies to date, over the last decade), Creatines
efficacy cannot be denied.
WHO COULD BENEFIT FROM CREATINE?
In light of the above benefits, individuals most likely to experience
creatines positive effects are:
Bodybuilders and strength athletes.
The aging population.
Sufferers of neurodegenerative disease.
Those with naturally lower levels of creatine (people, such as
vegetarians, who have a lower base level of creatine)
CREATINE ENHANCES MUSCLE VOLUMIZATION*
Another important benefit for bodybuilders and strength athletes is
creatines muscle volumizing effect 3. Creatine has a property that causes
muscle cells to inflate, which produces a more heavily muscled appearance,
and, more importantly, serves as a stimulus for protein synthesis.*
Up to six pounds of added body weight in the first few weeks is commonly
reported in those who begin creatine supplementation (a process primarily
accounted for by water moving rapidly from the bloodstream to the muscle)
CREATINE IMPROVES ANAEROBIC CAPACITY*
In their impressive study, Ziegenfuss, and fellow researchers demonstrated
that creatine loading over just three days significantly improved muscle
volume and cycle sprint performance in elite power athletes*
For this study, ten male and ten female athletes were assigned to creatine
or placebo groups, where, before and after the three-day creatine
supplementation period, they were assessed on repeated sprint performance
and thigh muscle volume - the creatine group was given 0.35 grams of
creatine per kilogram of fat-free mass, and all subjects completed six
maximal ten-second cycle sprints with 60 seconds of recovery in between.*
It was found that over the three-day period, creatine subjects experienced
increased total body mass of, on average, 0.9 kilograms, a 6.6% increase in
high volume (in five of six creatine taking participants), and increases in
performance in all six sprints. Their anaerobic capacity clearly had
improved with the addition of creatine, compared to the control subjects
who took in only maltodextrin.*
CREATINE ENHANCES RECOVERY*
In recent years creatine has been studied for its post-exercise muscle
regeneration properties. Findings have been very promising. In 2004, Santos
and colleagues studied the effects of creatine supplementation on muscle
cell damage in experienced endurance athletes running a 30-kilometer race.
Closely monitoring several markers of cell damage (including creatine
kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, prostaglandin-E and tumor necrosis
factor-alpha) in their sample of 18 male athletes (who used 20 grams of
creatine monohydrate per day for five days, mixed with 60 grams of
maltodextrin), the researchers found levels of these markers were reduced
after the race, compared to 16 control subjects who took only the
They concluded that creatine supplementation somehow reduced muscle cell
damage and inflammation following the exhaustive exercise. The researchers
issued the following statement:*
It seems creatine also helps to promote complete recovery from intense
exercise. Another reason strength and endurance athletes may benefit from
HIGH INTENSITY WORK
Creatine enhances the body's capacity to perform high intensity work (and
assists greater muscle size and performance gains as a result).*
Creatine phosphate (creatines high energy molecule form, stored within
cells) is used to supply the type 11b muscle fibers (fast-twitch
high-glycolytic; the ones that get largest in size) with immediate energy,
ensuring these muscles do not prematurely fatigue.*
This strengthens the muscular contraction of these fibers, and helps the
athlete to pump out more reps, sprint at a faster rate, or engage more
forcefully in whatever sport or type of exercise, they take part in.
Supplementing with creatine allows the muscles to store more of this
high-energy molecule to provide greater gains in strength and muscle.*
Creatine used in this manner is regarded as a high-energy phosphate and its
role in energy production cannot be overstated. Whenever the body uses
energy, a molecule called ATP (adenosine with a tail of three phosphate
groups, hence its name Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) is used as an energy source
- as a fundamental energy donor.*
Under conditions of strenuous activity, ATP releases one of these
high-energy phosphate groups to power muscular contraction. Once this
phosphate has been released, ATP becomes ADP (Adenosine Di-Phosphate, a
de-energized form of ATP). To regenerate ATP and assist further energy
production - to complete additional reps for example - creatine becomes a
CREATINE ENHANCES METHYLATION*
As explained previously in this article, creatine's erogenic actions work
to assist energy production and power output, resulting in muscle size and
strength, and improved performance. Additionally, it has been found
creatine provides a powerful anabolic boost through its enhancing of
systemic methylation (the regulation of gene expression, protein synthesis
and RNA metabolism through enzymatic catalyzation) status.*
Indeed, methylation is a process that is essential for the supporting of
life itself. A molecule known as SAM (S-Adenosyl Methionine) is the body's
principal methyl donor, and a breakdown in its production can adversely
affect whole-body anabolism.
Creatine drains the body's SAM reserves like nothing else, which, in turn,
deleteriously impacts methylation status (during its synthesisation by the
liver and kidneys, creatine draws heavily from the SAM reserves).
Supplementing creatine will enhance methylation status, as it will lessen
the drain on the liver and kidneys, and alleviate the body's need to
synthesize creatine from amino acids.*
CREATINE ENHANCES BRAIN FUNCTION*
Widely known for it muscle-building benefits, creatine, it appears, has
much more to offer than its ergogenic properties. Researchers Wyss and
Schulze looked at the broader health implications of creatine as they tried
to determine its value in treat[ing] several neurodegenerative, vascular
and muscular disorders.*
Their findings, published in the prestigious Neuroscience, showed creatine
to be an extremely important neuroprotectant (an agent that increases the
survival of nerve cells to environmental insults).
Energy metabolism and the production of Reactive Oxygen Species (very small
molecules that can result in significant damage to cell structures, which
include oxygen ions, free radicals, and peroxides) are thought to underpin
many neurodegenerative disorders, and creatine is thought to enhance the
brains' ability to survive the metabolic and physical trauma associated
with these conditions.
It was found by Wyss and colleagues that those with neurodegenerative
disorders associated with creatine deficiencies (inborn errors in creatine
production and storage) may require supplemental creatine, in order for it
to be more effectively delivered to the central nervous system.
Additionally, Ray and colleagues found creatine to improve brain function
(specifically short-term memory) in normal subjects. In a placebo
controlled cross-over design study, 45 vegetarian and vegan subjects
(chosen as their intake of creatine was negligible) took five grams per day
of creatine for six weeks.
After this period, all subjects were assessed on non-verbal intelligence
and verbal memory capacity. It was found that subjects who took creatine
rather than the placebo exhibited improved short-term memory and were
better able to problem solve under time constraints. Significantly, the
CREATINE IMPROVES BONE HEALING*
Gerbin and co-researchers at the Institute of cell biology in Switzerland
found creatine could be used successfully as an adjuvant therapy for bone
fracture healing or for the treatment of osteoporosis. Based on their
in-vivo study, they concluded that creatine significantly enhanced the
activity of alkaline phosphate (ALP; an important marker for bone growth).
Cell energy (of which in their study on bone regeneration creatine played a
major role) is important for bone development and maintenance, and
therefore directly related to osteoporosis. Creatine, as we know, enhances
cellular energy production. The researchers linked this to bone formation.
CREATINE IMPROVES GLUCOSE TOLERANCE*
Creatine might assist with the combating of diabetes, as it has been shown
to improve glucose tolerance. Derave and co-researchers showed that
supplemental creatine increased glucose transporter (glut-4) expression and
muscle glycogen content while improving glucose tolerance in a previously
Since this study was conducted, it appears the reasons for the improvements
in glucose tolerance were due to the increased expression of glucose
transporter type 4. It seems the expression of this transporter was
actually induced by IGF-1 and IGF-2, which are induced by creatine.
CREATINE MAY REDUCE SARCOPENIA (AGE RELATED MUSCLE LOSS)*
As we age there is a natural decline in the production of muscle building
(anabolic) hormones such as testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like
growth factors (IGF-1). As a result, there is a natural tendency for those
advancing in age to progressively lose muscle mass.
As mentioned, fast twitch fibers (the type that makes the bulk of our
muscle size) respond well to supplemental creatine in the athletic
population. These fibers are also the first to be sacrificed by the effects
of sarcopenia. The powerful anabolic hormone, IGF-1, has been shown to
localize in the fast twitch fibers and, significantly, this is the hormone
most likely to dwindle to a greater degree as we age.*
It follows that creatine supplementation into older adulthood might negate
the degenerative effects of age-related muscle wasting as it enhances fast
twitch muscle fiber integrity, and, in turn, should help to maintain
youthful levels of IGF-1.
Further research suggests advanced systemic methylation (discussed earlier)
resulting from creatine use might predispose the cell for greater IGF-1
production. Which of these might prove to be the most efficient means of reducing age-related muscle wasting is up for debate, but creatines potential as a muscle preserver in the aging population cannot be denied.
Creatine has also been shown to improve isometric strength in addition to
body composition in older adults provided a strength-training program is
run concurrently. In their double-blind study, Brose, and colleagues
assigned 28 healthy men and women - over age 65 - to a 14 week resistance
training exercise program, during which these subjects trained three days a
14 of these participants were given five grams of creatine mixed with two
grams of dextrose while the other 14 subjects received a placebo of seven
grams of dextrose. After the 14 weeks, the creatine group were found to
have experienced greater increases in fat-free mass and total body mass, in
addition to improvements in isometric knee extension strength.
This study helps to confirm the role creatine can play in offsetting
age-related muscle wasting, if combined with a strength training regime.
CREATINE IMPROVES PERFORMANCE & MUSCLE MASS STATUS IN VEGETARIANS*
Traditionally a group with lower creatine levels compared to their
meat-eating counterparts, vegetarians stand to miss out on the benefits
creatine supplies, unless of course, they supplement, it appears. It was
also thought that given vegetarians initial low creatine levels, they would
be more sensitive to its ergogenic effects.
Researcher Burke and his co-workers studied this proposal when they
compared the changes in muscle creatine, muscle fiber morphology, body
composition, hydration status, and exercise performance between vegetarians
and non-vegetarians over an eight-week resistance-training program, in
which, in a double-blind fashion, ten vegetarians took creatine and eight
took a placebo.
Additionally, 12 non-vegetarians took creatine with the other 12 taking the
placebo. The creatine-taking subjects initially loaded with 0.25 grams of
creatine per kilogram of lean body mass for seven days, before 0.0625 grams
over the subsequent 49-day period.
It was revealed that vegetarian subjects who took creatine experienced a
greater increase in total creatine, phosphocreatine, lean tissue, and total
work performance compared to the non-vegetarians who took creatine,
indicating vegetarians are more responsive to creatine supplementation.
How to Take Creatine Monohydrate
The general recommended dose of creatine monohydrate is 3g - 5g daily.
There’s no general consensus on the best time of day to take creatine. Many
people mix creatine powder with other supplements they’re already taking
like whey protein. Creatine can also be mixed with warm water (improves
solubility), fruit juice or caffeine-free tea. It’s important to note that
creatine monohydrate should be prepared fresh when you need to take it. Do
not pre-mix you creatine powder ahead of time.
Creatine users often do a “loading phase” of taking 20 grams throughout the
day for 5-7 days before moving a maintenance phase of 3-5 grams per day.
Research has shown this to increase the rate at which muscles become
saturated. However, loading is not necessary for creatine to exert its
Take 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate with either your pre or post workout
shake. Should you choose to load, take 5 grams 4 times per day for 6 days
followed by 3 to 5 grams per day, of course, after your doctor tells you
your kidneys are good and healthy.
No long term studies have been conducted on creatine monohydrate so it’s
generally recommended that you cycle it. An example of a creatine
monohydrate cycle might be 8 weeks on and 4 weeks off.
Taking more doesn't mean it’s going to work better. Once your ATP pool is
full, excess creatine is excreted (wasted) by the body. As creatine draws
water from the body into muscle cells it’s very important that you drink
adequate fluids when taking it.
Creatine usage is generally not recommended for people under the age of 18.
This is because of the lack of research of creatine supplementation in
There are many different kinds of creatine available. If you look on the
shelves of a supplement store, you will see creatine monohydrate, creatine
ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride, creatine AKG and others. The oldest
form is creatine monohydrate, and it just so happens this version has been
the compound used in essentially all of the well-designed creatine studies.
For this reason, we recommend this form over the newer, non-research backed
forms. We have created a pharmaceutical grade product that has taken away
the possibility of toxins or impurities in the product. A Non-China
Product, which is where most of the Creatine in the U.S. is made.
A couple of quick facts about Creatine:
Creatine is not a steroid.
Creatine does not damage the kidneys.
Creatine has no significant side-effects.
These are the potential side-effects of creatine:
Dehydration, but you simply need to drink more water. You don’t even
need to drink a lot more water. Just a bit extra.
Cramps, which stems from the dehydration, so water or a sports drink
with lots of electrolytes will take care of this.
Weight gain, but this is water weight gain. You’re not getting fat. If
you ever stop taking creatine, the weight will go away.
Diarrhea, this seems to be tied with dosage. Stick with the 5g dosage for maintenance and you should be fine.
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