Get the Scoop... Creatine ViTL Nutrition

What is creatine?

 

Creatine is a compound synthesized by our bodies from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. You consume creatine when you eat meat. Its phosphorylated form, phosphocreatine, serves as a buffer for intracellular ATP (energy) stores. ATP is not stored in cells in significant amounts so when we exercise, creatine phosphate is an important energy reserve for ATP.

 

All the way back in the early 1900s, scientists discovered that ingesting creatine in larger than normal amounts could increase muscular stores and physical performance. But, it wasn't until after the '92 olympics that creatine began its ascent to supplement stardom. Since then, creatine has become the most studied supplement in history with hundreds of studies exploring its effects.

Been to the gym recently? The supplement store? Training with teammates? Then you've heard about creatine. But, while this supplement has gained near-legendary status among elite athletes and daily gym-goers alike, many are still unfamiliar with what it has to offer. Get the scoop on creatine below. What is it? Why supplement with it? What kind of creatine is best? How is it taken for maximum results? What are the risks?

Why supplement with creatine?

 

Increasing creatine stores in the body can improve power performance for activities like sprinting, swinging, or lifting. There is also emerging evidence to suggest that creatine may improve endurance performance by enhancing ATP shuttling to working muscle fibers as well as improving the body’s ability to store carbohydrate (also known as carbohydrate loading). 

 

Being able to work harder means faster muscle gains and fat loss. With the right training methods and supplementation protocols, creatine supplementation can increase power and strength gains by 5-15% and increase muscle mass by 2-4 pounds.

 

Contrary to popular opinion, creatine does not appear to enhance muscle recovery after workouts or prevent muscle loss immediately following surgery. Creatine supplementation must be combined with the proper training programs to be effective.

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What kind of creatine is best?

 

Creatine Monohydrate is the most studied form of creatine and has substantial evidence backing its effectiveness.

Always speak to a qualified, knowledgeable healthcare provider for guidance before starting any supplement regimen. A nutritionist can help you better understand if creatine supplementation is right for you.

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Two well-substantiated protocols exist for supplementing with creatine. Both are highly effective and a nutritionist can help you determine which protocol is best.

 

The first protocol consists of what is called a loading phase for the first 2-7 days to saturate the muscle tissue: 15-20 

How is creatine taken for maximum results?

Creatine supplements should only be purchased from reputable suppliers and after you fully understand all of the other ingredients that may be included. A nutritionist can help you determine the best brand and formulation for your needs.

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Creatine Magnesium Chelate is emerging as a new supplemental form of creatine. It is likely as effective as the monohydrate form at increasing intramuscular creatine stores. The benefits of chelating magnesium with creatine include potentially more efficient absorption and functioning.

grams of creatine (0.3 grams per kilogram body weight or 0.6 grams per pound body weight) is taken throughout the day in 5 gram portions. Then the maintenance phase is initiated. During the maintenance phase 3-5 grams creatine is taken each day.

 

The second protocol consists of simply taking 3-6 grams of creatine each day for the duration of the supplementation protocol. This method provides a more gradual increase in muscle-creatine levels.

 

Cycling off of creatine when not training, or discontinuing use for at least one week after every 4-6 weeks of use, may be beneficial. A nutritionist can help you determine optimal timing for supplementation initiation and cessation.

 

Creatine is best absorbed when taken with carbohydrate around workouts. Mixing it with 3-6oz of 100% fruit juice, 15-30 minutes before a workout can optimize absorption and results. Taking creatine after a workout, for example with chocolate milk, is also highly effective. Studies show that taking creatine before versus after a workout yields similar results and one is not necessarily better. 

 

A balanced diet is essential for realizing the benefits of creatine supplementation.

What are the risks associated with taking creatine?

 

There are few risks when creatine is taken in proper amounts as directed by a qualified, knowledgeable healthcare provider. But, as with any supplement or drug, risks do exist. Choosing a reputable brand is one way to reduce some of these risks.

 

Old theory suggests that taking creatine may increase the risk of dehydration and muscle cramps, especially in hot environments. However, newer research has shown that this is not the case, and creatine ingestion may actually be associated with a lower risk of cramps and injuries. Sufficient hydration is still necessary when taking creatine for maximum results and safety.

 

Creatine is not indicated for those with certain health conditions, especially certain kidney- and liver-related conditions due to the possibility of increased stress on those organs. Excessive doses of creatine can cause stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. 

 

Incidences exist in which adolescents and adults may have reacted negatively to, and even been hospitalized after creatine ingestion. However, studies have consistently shown that when creatine is used in the proper way, the only clinically significant side effect is weight gain from increases in muscle mass.

 

Less is known about the effects of creatine on adolescents before or in the early stages of puberty. Therefore, other strategies to improve performance are indicated for this group.

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References

 

Antonio J, Ciccone V. The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10:36.

 

Antonio J, Kalman D, Stout J, Greenwood M, Willoughby D, Haff GG. Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008.

 

Burke DG, Chilibek PD, Davidson KS, et al. The effect of whey protein supplementation with and without creatine monohydrate combined with resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscle strength. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001:11(3):349-364.

 

Clark IF. Creatine and phosphocreatine: a review of their use in exercise and sport. I Athl Train. 1997;32:45-50.

 

Dalbo VJ, Robers MD, Stout JR, Kerksick CM. Putting to rest the myth of creatine supplementation leading to muscle cramps and dehydration. Br J Sports Med. 2008;42:567-573.

 

Earnest CP, Snell P, Rodriguez R, Almada A, Mitchell TL. The effect of creatine monohydrate ingestion on anaerobic power indices, muscular strength and body composition. Acta Physiol Scand. 1995;153:207-209.

 

Green AL, Hultman E, Macdonald lA, Sewell DA, Greenhaff PL. Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during creatine supplemcntation in humans. Am J Physiol. 1996;271:821-826.

 

Greenhaff PL, Casey A, Short AH, Harris R, Soderlund K, Hultman E. Influence of oral creatine supplementation of muscle torque during repeated bouts of maximal voluntary exercise in man. Clin Sci. 1993;84:565-571.

 

Greenwood M, Kreider RB, Greenwood L. The effects of creatine supplementation on cramping and injury occurrence during college baseball training and competition. J of Exerc Phys. 2003:6(4):16-23.

 

Gualano B, Ferreira DC, Sapienza MT, Seguro AC, Lancha AH. Effect of short-term high-dose creatine supplementation on measured GFR in a young man with a single kidney. Am J Kidney Dis. 2010 Mar;55(3):7-9.

 

Harris RC, Soderlund K, Hultman E. Elevation of creatine in resting and exercised muscle of normal subjects by creatine supplementation. Clin Sci. 1992;83:367-374.

 

Hespel P, Op't Eijnde B, Van Leemputte M, et al. Oral creatine supplementation facilitates the rehabilitation of disuse atrophy and alters the expression of muscle myogenic factors in humans. J Physiol. 2001;536(Pt 2):625-33.

 

Hultman E, Soderlund K, Timmons JA, Cederblad G, Greenhaff PL. Muscle creatine loading in men. J Appl PhysioI. 1996;81:232- 237.

 

Kreider R, Greenwood M, Melton C, et al. Long-term creatine supplementation during training/competition does not increase perceptions of fatigue or adversely affect health status. Med Sci Sport Exerc. 2002;34:146.

 

Kreider RB, Ferreira M, Wilson M, et al. Effects of creatine supplementation on body composition, strength, and sprint performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;30:73-82.

Rawson ES, Conti MP, Miles MP. Creatine Supplementation Does Not Reduce Muscle Damage or Enhance Recovery From Resistance Exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21(4):1208-13.

 

Sheth NP, Sennett B, Berns JS. Rhabdomyolysis and acute renal failure following arthroscopic knee surgery in a college football player taking creatine supplements. Clin Nephrol. 2006;65(2):134-7.

 

Skare OC, Skadberg, Wisnes AR. Creatine supplementation improves sprint performance in male sprinters. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2001;11:96-102.

 

Steenge GR, Simpson EJ, Greenhaff PL. Protein- and carbohydrate-induced augmentation of whole body creatine retention in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2000;89:1165-1171.

 

Stone MH, Sanborn K, Smith LL, et al. Effects of in-season (5 weeks) creatine and pyruvate supplementation on anaerobic performance and body composition in American football players. lnt Sport Nutr. 1999;9:146-165.

 

Tarnopolsky MA, MacLennan DP. Creatine monohydrate supplementation enhances high-intensity exercise performance in males and females. lnt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000;10:452-463.

 

Thorsteinsdottir B, Grande JP, Garovic VD. Acute renal failure in a young weight lifter taking multiple food supplements, including creatine monohydrate. J Ren Nutr. 2006 Oct;16(4):341-5.

 

Tyler TF, Nicholas SJ, Hershman EB, Glace BW, Mullaney MJ, McHugh MP.The effect of creatine supplementation on strength recovery after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Am J Sports Med. 2004 Mar;32(2):383-8.

 

Vandenberghe K, Goris M, Van Hecke P, Van Leemputte M, Vangerven L, Hespel P. Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training. J Appl Physiol. 1997;83:2055-2063.

 

Volek JS, Duncan ND, Mazzetti SA, et al. Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999;31:1147-1156.

 

Volek JS, Kraemer WJ, Bush JA, et al. Creatine supplementation enhances muscular performance during high-intensity resistance exercise. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997;97: 765-770.

A couple products to check out...

 

Creatine Monohydrate by Jarrow Formulas

ATP Evolution by NutraBio