Considerations for Creatine Supplementation, Should You Supplement with Creatine?

Since way back ( I know I am dating myself here..) in the 1990’s creatine has been a very popular and highly researched sports supplement. It is hard to debate the benefits creatine has on sports performance. Over the years more research has been done on creatine and we have found out the perks of creatine go beyond sports and performance.

Creatine’s main function in the body is to store high energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine; increased stores of creatine prevent depletion of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).  Fast twitch muscle fibers store roughly 6 times more phosphocreatine than ATP. A professor of mine once suggested we think of creatine as an energy reservoir for the cells which provides a rapid resynthesis of ATP. 

The body synthesizes about 1-2 grams of creatine daily; primarily in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas from the amino acids methionine, glycine, and arginine. 

Creatine has been shown to pass through the digestive tract unaltered for absorption into the blood stream through the intestinal mucosa. Almost all ingested creatine incorporates into the skeletal muscle tissue.

Some suggested benefits of creatine supplementation are:

1. Improves rate of force development and delays onset of fatigue in fast twitch fibers.

2. Facilitates faster recovery between workouts or events (reduced muscle cell damage). Researchers came to this conclusion by monitoring markers of cell damage pre and post exercise with and without creatine supplementation.

3. Provides neuroprotection, enhances brain function. Further information can be found in the Journal of Neuroscience;

4. Reduce sarcopenia when coupled with proper lifestyle and exercise.

5. Increase insulin sensitivity.

6.  Increase activity of markers involved in the facilitation of bone growth and provide possible therapy in the treatment of osteoporosis and bone fractures

Is creatine safe? NO! WHATEVER YOU DO STAY AWAY FROM IT! Just kiiiiiding. Imagine I put you through all of that just to tell you not to take it? I would do that, but not this time. It is safe and the only contraindication is for those with a pre-existing medical condition. 

I often get questioned about the fallacy of creatine being “bad” for your kidneys; however, research has shown glomerular filtration rate, tubular reabsorption, and glomerular membrane permeability remained normal in individuals with chronic creatine use. If an individual suspects any renal malfunction, I suggest speaking with their physician first before using creatine.

Should I “LOAD”?

I suggest 2-5 grams of creatine per day without a loading phase. It is often suggested the individual take 20-30 gram per day for roughly 7-10 days to reach “maximal saturation”. The truth is that is bullsh*t. No need to load and no need to take it 7 days per week. Again, 2-5 grams, 5 days per week will suffice for maximal performance benefits.

What is the BEST type of creatine?

There are many supplement companies out there working to take your money from you by promising the newest and most powerful form of creatine. Don’t “buy” into that bullsh*t. Stick with a basic Monohydrate powder and don’t worry about having to add any extra sugar to it. There are many companies that have facilitated the metabolic decline of men and women young and old with sales of creatine supplements containing up to 75 grams of dextrose per serving! The scariest part is multiple servings are taken per day  with these scams.

Please remember that if you are not eating well, sleeping enough, staying hydrated, partaking in healthy relationships, and have a definite chief aim in life; creatine is probably NOT for you.  

Peter Lombardi is the owner of Elevation Fitness and is available for one on one consultations in person or virtually. Please contact [email protected]  if you would like to schedule with him.

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