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 Contributor
Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYT500, is a well-known blogger and kinesiology professor at Point Loma Nazarene University. In addition to holding ACE Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach certifications, she is an experienced registered yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance. Jessica is regularly cited as a wellness expert by outlets such as CNN, Shape, Self and The Washington Post.More Blogs by Jessica Matthews »