January 14, 2008

The Best Creatine? Creatine Monohydrate Effectiveness - Part 3 of 5

The Best Creatine? Creatine Monohydrate Effectiveness: Many forms of creatine exist in the marketplace, and these choices can be very confusing for the consumer. Most of these forms of creatine have been reported to be no better than traditional creatine monohydrate in terms of increasing strength or performance.

The addition of nutrients that increase insulin levels and/or improve insulin sensitivity has been a major source of interest in the last few years by scientists looking to optimize the ergogenic effects of creatine.

The addition of certain macronutrients appears to significantly augment muscle retention of creatine. Green et al. reported that adding 93 g of carbohydrate to 5 g of creatine monohydrate increased total muscle creatine by 60%. Likewise, Steenge et al. reported that adding 47 g of carbohydrate and 50 g of protein to creatine monohydrate was as effective at promoting muscle retention of creatine as adding 96 g of carbohydrate.

Additional investigations by Greenwood and colleagues have reported increased creatine retention from the addition of dextrose or low levels of D-pinitol (a plant extract with insulin-like properties). While the addition of these nutrients has proved to increase muscle retention, several recent investigations have reported these combinations to be no more effective at improving muscle strength and endurance or athletic performance.

Other recent studies, however, have indicated a potential benefit on anaerobic power, muscle hypertrophy, and 1 RM muscle strength when combining protein with creatine. It appears that combining creatine monohydrate with carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein produces optimal results. Studies suggest that increasing skeletal muscle creatine uptake may enhance the benefits of training.

Creatine monohydrate appears to be the most effective nutritional supplement currently available in terms of improving lean body mass and anaerobic capacity.
To date, several hundred peer-reviewed research studies have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of creatine monohydrate supplementation in improving exercise performance. Nearly 70% of these studies have reported a significant improvement in exercise capacity, while the others have generally reported non-significant gains in performance.

No studies have reported an ergolytic effect on performance although some have suggested that weight gain associated with creatine monohydrate supplementation could be detrimental in sports such as running or swimming.

The average gain in performance from these studies typically ranges between 10 to 15% depending on the variable of interest. For example, short-term creatine monohydrate supplementation has been reported to improve maximal power/strength (5–15%), work performed during sets of maximal effort muscle contractions (5–15%), single-effort sprint performance (1–5%), and work performed during repetitive sprint performance (5–15%).

Long-term creatine monohydrate supplementation appears to enhance the overall quality of training, leading to 5 to 15% greater gains in strength and performance. Nearly all studies indicate that "proper" creatine monohydrate supplementation increases body mass by about 1 to 2 kg in the first week of loading.

The vast expanse of literature confirming the effectiveness of creatine monohydrate supplementation is far beyond the scope of this review. Briefly, short-term adaptations reported from creatine monohydrate supplementation include increased cycling power, total work performed on the bench press and jump squat, as well as improved sport performance in sprinting, swimming, and soccer.

Long-term adaptations when combining creatine monohydrate supplementation with training include increased muscle creatine and phosphocreatine content, lean body mass, strength, sprint performance, power, rate of force development, and muscle diameter. In long-term studies, subjects taking creatine monohydrate typically gain about twice as much body mass and/or fat free mass (i.e., an extra 2 to 4 pounds of muscle mass during 4 to 12 weeks of training) than subjects taking a placebo.

The tremendous numbers of investigations conducted with positive results from creatine monohydrate supplementation lead us to conclude that it is the most effective nutritional supplement available today for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and building lean mass.

Reproduced with minor omissions, including references for ease of reading, from: Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, Greenwood M, Campbell B, Spano M, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2007, 4:6 (30 August 2007). doi:10.1186/1550-2783-4-6. © 2007 Buford et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0).

Related articles:

Creatine Side Effects: Myths and Safety Profile - Part 1 of 5

Facts and Benefits of Creatine - Part 2 of 5

Physical Activity or Exercise? - Making a New Year's Resolution

Copyright 2007 Kevin Flatt. Reproduction of any information on other websites is PROHIBITED.

Disclaimer: The information and opinions on this website is for information purposes only and is believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. Readers who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.