Creatine: Does it Enhance Performance and Increase Muscle Mass?

By far, creatine has been one of the most sought out and researched supplements to date. With hundreds of studies performed on its effects, the results of these studies prove it to be one of the safest and most effective supplements on the market. Creatine wasn’t used as a performance enhancing supplement until the 1990’s, although the first study dates all the way back to 1926. As athletes started seeing an increase in performance such as strength, speed, agility, and muscle mass, the use of creatine became more popular amongst fitness enthusiast and athletes.


What is Creatine and how does it work?

Our body and muscles produce energy using a molecule called ATP (Adensonsine Triphospate). When there is a need for energy for example walking, lifting weights, running, jumping…etc our bodies use ATP in order to perform that specific movement. Once we use ATP for energy it is broken down into  ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate)  and instead of having three phosphate groups it now only has two phosphate groups.

Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 9.46.46 AMUnfortunately, we can’t use ADP to produce energy, which makes ADP no longer useful to us. The goal is to try and replenish the ADP molecule by adding another phosphate group and converting it back in to ATP, which we CAN use for energy. So, to replenish that energy our bodies have a natural occurring Creatine Phosphate (CP) pool. For quick energy we then take a CP molecule from that pool and break it down into a separate creatine molecule and a separate phosphate molecule.Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 9.42.50 AMThat phosphate molecule is then donated to the ADP molecule now converting it to ATP to regenerate more energy. 
Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 9.52.59 AM

The cycle continues until the CP pool is depleted and cellular metabolism takes over depending on the energy systems being used. So, supplementing with creatine increases the amount of CP that is stored in the pool. If more CP is readily available then we are able to produce energy at a faster rate and more efficiently because the process only requires 1 step in order to produce ATP. Whereas other energy systems like aerobic and anaerobic metabolism have multiple steps until ATP is produced. Disclaimer: Creatine doe not directly increase muscle mass, speed, agility…etc. It allows for our body to increase the amount of energy produced which results in increased amount of repetitions, training harder and longer and this results in an increased stimulus to the muscle which results in muscle growth.


What does the research say?

Amongst hundreds of research studies, literature reviews, and meta analysis the common consensus is that creatine is a safe and effective supplement that effectively results in an increase in strength, speed/agility, and muscle mass. The latter being there were no negative effects (no decrease in performance) but some studies resulted in co change in performance. A met-analysis by Ross et al. 2003 in  80% of the studies performed found that individuals ingesting creatine (at least 5 days per week) in combination with resistance training, obtained an  8% -14% increase in their 1 rep max performance as well as muscle endurance. While the other 20% showed no effect or increase in performance. A recent 2012 analysis by Cooper et al., concluded that creatine has a positive effect on increasing the effects of resistance training by increasing strength and hypertrophy. It also aids in improving  the quality and benefits of high intensity intermittent speed training.  Lastly,  it seems to improve and have a positive effect on  power, fat free mass, daily living performance and neurological function in young and older people.


How much should I take, and when?

If you do decide to use creatine as a supplement, research studies suggest that about 3-5g (5,000mg) results in increased performance. Taking more than this amount has no increased effects because our bodies will not store more than that amount which means it won’t be used and is eventually secreted out as urine. As always you know the brand I know and trust is PEScience, ( I order through Amazon, its more affordable and you get it within 1-2 days) I take 3 capsules a day in the morning and do this consistently! You can also use the powder form I just don’t like the gritty texture of it in my protein shake, so I prefer the capsules!

Overall there are no harmful effects of supplementing creatine into your diet, if anything there are either no changes or significant increases in performance and body composition. You can add creatine to your post workout protein shake, gainer shakes, etc.



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