What do you think of when you hear the word Creatine. Is it Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 60s or a supplement that only Olympic weightlifters would consider? While there might be some truth in that assumption, the benefits of creatine extend far beyond what you may think.
Before we get into what performance benefits creatine offers, lets go over where it comes from and what it does. Creatine is a naturally occurring non-protein amino acid compound found in red meat and seafood. This little compound plays a big role in energy availability, especially during anaerobic activity (think high intensity bursts like sprinting or weightlifting). Creatine also has an antioxidant role by reducing the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation during anaerobic activity (1).
The benefits of creatine supplementation are substantial and include increased muscle mass, enhanced energy production, increased anaerobic threshold, increased work capacity, enhanced recovery, and increased single & repetitive sprint performance (1). Creatine supplementation has the most pronounced effect on those activities that involve short high intensity bursts and while Olympic weightlifters are an obvious benefactor, there are various athletes that could benefit. Whether you are a hockey player trying to improve your breakaway game, a runner that needs that last ditch effort before the finish line, or a long distance cycler that is doing interval training creatine supplementation might be an effective performance enhancer for you.
But how safe is it? Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN) states that while there have been some reports of side effects including nausea and vomiting, these were subjective reports and the same symptoms were not consistently seen in a controlled and tested environment (2). The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has completed extensive research on this topic and has concluded that there is no compelling scientific evidence that the short or long term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects on otherwise healthy individuals (1). However, the ISSN recommends creatine supplementation only be considered for use by younger athletes who are involved in competitive supervised training; are consuming a well-balanced and performance enhancing diet; are knowledgeable about appropriate use of creatine; and do not exceed recommended dosages (1).
Finally, because creatine is component found in food it is not on the list of banned substances and therefore is safe to take for competitive athletes who have to undergo drug testing.
Book an appointment today to learn more how you can optimize your sport or activity performance through nutrition and if creatine supplementation would benefit you!
(1) Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D. S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., . . . Lopez, H. L. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,14(1). Retrieved from https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z.
(2) PEN. (2017, October 18). Is creatine supplementation safe and effective for improving exercise performance and increasing lean body mass in adolescents and adults undergoing exercise training? Retrieved January 12, 2019, from http://www.pennutrition.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=8180&pqcatid=146&pqid=8167
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