Anyone that has been involved in sports has undoubtedly heard about creatine in some way or another. However, how many fitness enthusiasts today really know what creatine is or why everyone, not just those involved in strength training, should be taking it?
Clearly I back the use of creatine, but before I wield by sword and shield to defend my stance let’s go into depth about what it is and research to show it’s efficacy.
Creatine Monohydrate supplementation, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, is the most effective ergogenic (performance enhancing) nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.
Creatine’s main action in the body is to increase stores of what is called Creatine Phosphate, which is a molecular ‘storage’ of energy which can quickly give energy to cells faster than even glucose.
Outside of increasing these energy stores, creatine can also aid performance by increasing the amount of water inside a cell (which may, via pressure, exert forces upon the cell membrane and induce muscular growth), and can aid in muscle building by recruiting what is known as satellite cells (muscular stem cells). It can also aid in cognition significantly in vegetarians and the elderly.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound, made up of three amino acids called Glycine, Methionine, and Arginine. It exists in meat (roughly 5g per kg of meat) and animal products as well. Supplementation with creatine (in the form of monohydrate) has not been shown to infer any harm to any healthy population.
Despite popular broscience, creatine will not (under healthy conditions) harm kidneys, the liver, the heart, the brain, and will not induce any significant hormonal changes that manifest themselves as behavior changes.
Overall, creatine is almost vitamin-like in its actions and should be treated as such. It has wide-ranging benefits all over the body with almost no side-effects. It is one of the most well-known and well-studied compounds and much faith can be placed in usage of it.
Sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it?
Well, in the case of supplementation of creatine it is not too good to be true. It’s actually the most beneficial supplement, in my mind, that you can take.
Okay, so you don’t believe me. Fair enough. How about reading through some scientific backed studies to help you decide if creatine is actually effective, safe and worth supplementing.
- Ergogenic effects of creatine in sports and rehabilitation
- Safety of creatine supplementation
- Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial
- International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise
- Potential of creatine supplementation for improving aging bone health
Convinced? You should be.