In response to multiple questions about creatine, I am dedicating this month’s Quick Tip to further discussion.
In 2007, the International Society of Sports Nutrition released an official position stand on creatine supplementation and exercise. Their final conclusion is as follows:
“It is the position of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that the use of creatine as a nutritional supplement within established guidelines is safe, effective, and ethical. Despite lingering myths concerning creatine supplementation in conjunction with exercise, creatine monohydrate remains one of the most extensively studied, as well as effective, nutritional aids available to athletes.”*
Creatine is a sought after supplement because of its role in the production of energy. In the human body, creatine is attached to a phosphate molecule (phosphocreatine). When the bond between creatine and phosphate is broken, energy is released and phosphate becomes available for creation of further energy. The body stores enough phosphocreatine for approximately 10 seconds of intense physical activity. Thus, the idea behind supplementing with creatine is to increase the available pool of phosphocreatine for high intensity, short-burst muscle contractions.
Studies examining creatine and its relationship to exercise performance have found it to be most effective in improving lean body mass and improving anaerobic capacity. Of importance to note is that creatine is not a proverbial “silver bullet”. Regular participation in resistance training and a cardiovascular program is necessary.
Our stance at Cenegenics-Denver is that creatine supplementation can be beneficial when used by individuals who are involved in heavy weight lifting programs and who are properly hydrating themselves.
Research supports the following dosing of creatine:
“The quickest method of increasing muscle creatine stores appears to be to consume ~0.3 grams/kg/day of creatine monohydrate [approximately 20 g per day, split into 5 g doses] for at least 3 days followed by 3-5 g/d thereafter to maintain elevated stores.”* As there is no specific timing for creatine consumption, it may be used throughout the day.
When using creatine, continue to employ proper hydration habits. Consume at least half of your body weight, in ounces, of water per day. During exercise water should be consumed at a rate of 3-8 ounces per 15 minutes.
I am happy to address further individual questions.
*Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, Greenwood M, Campbell B, et al.: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sport Nutr 2007, 4:6.