Creatine

Summary

Creatine is a compound that is formed naturally in the human body from the amino acids glycine and arginine. It's primary use is to promote muscle formation during resistance training and enhance performance during high-intensity exercises. Creatine also promotes recovery from high intensity exercise and can possibly help prevent injuries during exercises. 

When starting supplementing with creatine the recommended dose is a maximum of 0.3 grams per kilo body weight each day for 3 days, followed by 3 - 5 grams each day after that to maintain elevated levels ( Kreider 2010). During the first three days the concentration of creatine in the muscle  is being increased, which is then sustained with the smaller dose following those three days. Creatine can however cause stomach cramps and headaches for some people at high doses. In those cases a lower dose is also beneficial and in fact the 3-5 grams per day dose will eventually push the concentration of creatine to the optimal level.

Research

In a meta study from 2003 it was shown that numerous studies have reported that short-term creatine supplementation can improve maximal power/strength by 5-15%, work performed during sets of maximal effort muscle contractions by 5-15%, single-effort sprint performance by 1-5%, and work performed during repetitive sprint performance by 5-15%. Creatine supplementation has also been reported to promote significantly greater gains in strength and formation of fat free mass during resistance training and enhance performance primarily during high intensity exercise tasks ( Kreider, 2003).

A study in 2004 found that creatine supplementation reduced muscle cell damage in experienced endurance athletes. By comparing their muscle damage markers to a control group they found that levels of these markers in the blodstream were reduced for the group that got creatine supplements. They concluded that creatine promotes recovery from high intensity exercise. ( Santos, 2004 )

Finally for those that question the safety if this supplement it has been shown that oral creatine supplementation in amounts from five to 20 grams per day is very safe and largely devoid of adverse side-effects ( Bizzarini, 2004).​

References

Bizzarini E, De Angelis L; De Angelis. (2004). "Is the use of oral creatine supplementation safe?". The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 44 (4): 411–6.

Gerber, I. Gwynn, I, Alini, M and Wallimann, T. (2005).  Stimulatory effects of creatine on metabolic activity, differentiation and mineralization of primary osteoblast-like cells in monolayer and micromass cell cultures. European Cells and materials vol 10, 8-22.

Kreider RB  et.al. (2010)ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 7:7

Kreider RB. (2003) Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem, 244(1-2):89-94. 

Santos, R. V. et al. (2004) The effect of creatine supplementation upon inflammatory and muscle soreness markers after a 30km race. Life Sciences, Volume 75(16), pages 1917-1924.

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