Creatine, does it really work?

Creatine

Creatine is one of the most used and most scrutinized supplements on the market today. Creatine has the reputation of having little to no effect, or being unsafe, these claims are anything but true. Creatine is a bodily substance, that also can be found in meat and fish. So, it’s perfectly safe!

Effects of creatine

Creatine has been shown to have a positive effect on lean body mass, cell hydration, strength, peak torque in knee flexion, anaerobic power and capacity (Bemben et al., 2001). This means creatine influences everything gym related, since more anaerobic power means greater muscle gains.

Creatine in pre-workout

Creatine is part of virtually every pre-workout, and surprisingly, almost always in the right dosage for the maintenance phase (2-5gr). However, this does not mean that you really reap all the benefits that can be obtained from creatine. This requires a loading phase that creates a buffer for the creatine phosphate system (one of the 3 energy systems in the body). This certainly does not mean that you do not benefit at all from the creatine in your favorite pre-workout; it simply means your dose is very suboptimal. In addition, your frequency is not high enough. Besides, do you take it every day? This is part of the intake protocol of creatine. Also, you take it before your training, which in itself is suboptimal (your buffer should be replenished after your training)! If that buffer is not there, it does not make much sense to start creating this buffer 30 minutes before your training, as this is far from optimal.

Intake protocol

Loading phase: 5-7 days, 20gr a day (4x 5gr)
Maintenance phase: 2-5gr a day after your workout to refill your buffer (Naderi et al., 2016).

Type of creatine

The most research has been done with creatine monohydrate, and there is no scientific reason to believe that other types of creatine have greater effect, other than financial since other creatine types are far more expensive.

References

Naderi, A, de Oliviera, E, Ziegenfuss, T, Willems, M. (2016) Timing, optimal dose and intake duration of dietary Supplements with evidence-based use in sports nutrition.

Kreider, R., Ferreira, M., Wilson, M., Grindstaff, P., Plisk, S., Reinardy, J., Cantler, E., Almada, A. (1998) Effects of creatine supplementation on body composition, strength and sprint performance. Sports & Exercise.

Butts, J., Jacobs, B., Silvis, M. (2017) Creatine use in sports. Journal of Sports and Health Science

Rawson, E., Volek, J. (2003) Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. Journal of Strenght and Conditioning

MICHAEL G. BEMBEN, DEBRA A. BEMBEN, DARREN D. LOFTISS, and ALLEN W. KNEHANS (2001) Creatine supplementation during resistance training in college football athletes