September 4, 2009
Creatine is certainly one of the hot supplements among fitness enthusiasts. A growing body of evidence exists to suggest that taking creatine supplements may improve a person's ability to perform short-term, intense exercise
How does creatine work within the body?
All skeletal muscle tissue contains creatine, and dietary creatine is found in meat and fish. During exercise, a portion of the muscle's creatine is depleted. Creatine phosphate plays an important role in resynthesizing ATP during short bursts of high-intensity exercise.
What do creatine supplements do?
Creatine supplements have been shown to increase the total creatine content (creatine and creatine phosphate) of muscle on an average of 20-30%. Several studies suggest that ingestion of 20-25 grams of creatine monohydrate per day for 5-6 days improves muscular performance during activities that require high levels of strength and power (e.g., weight lifting, sprinting).
Sufficient evidence exists to state that, under certain conditions, creatine supplementation can enhance performance in activities that require short periods of high-intensity power and strength. If individuals can train at higher intensity levels, it follows that they may be able to add strength and power at accelerated rates over a period of time. Creatine can also lead to weight gain, but the mechanism responsible for the added weight has not been adequately investigated.
Is creatine supplementation right for me?
Before you run out and start taking creatine supplements, consider the following precautions:
- The long-term effects of taking creatine have not been studied. The majority of studies have examined the effect of the short-term (30 days or less) use of creatine.
- All the studies conducted have involved adults only. Creatine's effects on children are unknown.
- Consuming large quantities of creatine (greater than 30 grams per month) may encourage fat to accumulate in the liver.
- Stomach cramping and diarrhea have been cited as adverse side effects of creatine supplementation.
- As a supplement, creatine is not regulated, meaning you may or may not be getting exactly what the label says. Before selecting a product, do a little research on the manufacturer first.
Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYTContributor
Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT is assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College. As a leading fitness expert, writer and educator Jessica is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including Shape and Oprah.com. She holds a B.S. in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and M.S. in physical education from Canisius College. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance and trained stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instructor. Prior to teaching at Miramar, Jessica worked full-time ACE, serving in a number of key roles including exercise physiologist, certification director and senior health and fitness editor. Her past work also includes serving as aquatics director at Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center and designing health and physical education curriculum for grades K-12. Full Bio Jessica Matthews »