Creatine is probably the most talked about supplement on the market. For many, it is difficult to find any solid information on it. Let’s clear some things up.
How it Works
The amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the basic form of energy used by cells, is largely determined by the amount of creatine readily available in the muscles. As ATP depletes due to exercise, creatine is a key component in its resynthesizing to keep your muscles fueled with energy. If there is a lack of phosphocreatine in the muscles, performance will rapidly deteriorate.
Who Benefits from Creatine? – EVERYBODY!
Creatine is mostly widely used among athletes looking for an extra edge. However, it is not just for athletes. Creatine has been found to increase memory and intelligence, boost the immune system by increasing antioxidants and even help with elderly who have undergone joint replacement.
Why do Athletes use Creatine?
Does Creatine Cause Muscle Cramping?
Simply put - NO. Many studies have shown that while creatine does shift large amounts of fluids into the muscle, there have been no circumstances in any of the clinical tests that reveal any adverse cramping effects of creatine.
During one of the tests, athletes consuming high dosages of creatine were put into an environment consisting of rigorous heat and humidity. The findings were that nobody had experienced any cramping. The doctors of the study had concluded that all athletes must stay well-hydrated and consume ten glasses of water per day, whether taking creatine or not, to prevent muscle cramping.
Creatine May Protect Against Sports-Related Concussions
A study by the Annals of Neurology found that "supplementing creatine will reduce brain damage by 21% when consumed 3 days before an injury and up to 36% when taken 5 days before an injury."
Creatine Benefits Endurance Athletes
In Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers investigated twelve triathletes between the ages of 22-27. Results of this study showed that when supplementing with creatine, their "interval power" performance increased by 18%, while the "endurance performance" was unaffected. Meaning that athletes performed substantially better during the most "intense" portions of the endurance event.
Creatine Increases Muscle Size & Strength
- Enhanced Quality of Training: Creatine in the muscle is an essential component to the production of ATP, the bodies energy molecule. More available energy may allow for longer, more intense, and more frequent bouts of physical activity.
- Cell Volumization: As creatine is taken up into the muscle cells, it also associates with water. As more creatine is stored, more water may be brought into the muscle. When muscle cell volume is increased, it is thought that this triggers more protein and glycogen synthesis, reduces protein breakdown and increases muscle mass. Studies indicate that long-term creatine supplementation "increases fat-free mass and/or muscle fiber diameter with no disproportional increase in total body water. The findings suggest that the weight gain observed during training is most likely muscle mass."
- Anabolic Hormone Increase?: According to researchers, "creatine may in fact have direct anabolic properties due to its' effect on enhancing human growth hormone secretion." This, they say, could partly explain the dramatic muscle size and strength increases observed after creatine supplementation.
Are there any Long-Term Side Effects of Creatine?
With over 70 years of research having been done on the supplement, no scientific literature has reported any harm done to individuals due to creatine supplementation. In a recent study, ninety-eight Division 1A college football players were administered creatine on non-creatine supplements following training sessions over a 21-month period. "The results of the study indicate that long-term creatine supplementation does not appear to adversely affect makers of health status in athletes undergoing intense training in comparison to athletes who do not take creatine."