Marc S. Schneider, M.D.
Creatine monohydrate is one of the most studied supplements in all of sports nutrition. Time and time again, scientific studies have demonstrated that creatine provides significant performance gains in power, strength, and anaerobic capacity for high intensity athletes. Moreover, creatine monohydrate has also been shown to sustain muscle power over prolonged periods of intense exercise. As such, creatine monohydrate is an ideal supplement for those looking to add strength and size, as well as those involved in endurance sports who are looking to maintain peak performance levels throughout competition.
Creatine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body that is produced in the liver and pancreas. It can be consumed with food as well, but only in small amounts, as creatine is usually destroyed during the cooking process.
Creatine plays a vital role in the production of ATP, which is critical for muscle contraction, strength, and endurance. Unfortunately, while performing intense exercise, the human body will normally expend all of the creatine naturally created within the body, therefore hindering the production of ATP and athletic performance overall. To counteract these negative effects, creatine supplementation is necessary.
Specifically, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase the amount of phosphocreatine within the muscle cell. Muscle phosphocreatine is used by the body for the production of ATP during high intensity activity. Thus, creatine supplementation in effect produces greater intramuscular ATP for repeated muscle firing.
Creatine Monohydrate Studies
White paper studies have consistently demonstrated that creatine monohydrate supplementation increases muscle creatine and phosphocreatine concentrations in the body by approximately 15–40%. This increased concentration leads to enhanced anaerobic exercise capacity and increased training volume, which in turn leads to greater gains in strength, power, and muscle mass. It is for this reason that creatine monohydrate has been used for years by strength athletes looking to add muscle mass. However, the supplement has been shown in studies to also benefit athletes that also need muscle endurance such as soccer players.
Overall, superior soccer players demonstrate higher peak torque of knee extensors, better running ability at lactate threshold, superior vertical jump, and less lower limb body fat percentage. Yes, creatine monohydrate does produce muscle strength gains in the offseason, but recent studies have shown that it helps maintain muscular power throughout training periods, as compared to the normal force production loss players see when not using the supplement.
With increases in strength, size, and endurance, it is no surprise then that studies indicate creatine monohydrate is beneficial to the athletic performance of cyclists, swimmers, sprinters, power-lifters, etc.
There are numerous myths (gym knowledge) regarding creatine that have been completely refuted by white paper studies. These myths include:
- Weight gain during creatine supplementation is due to water retention
- Creatine causes a strain on the kidneys
- Creatine causes cramping and dehydration
Moreover, multiple forms of creatine have been produced over the years with claims that they are more effective than the original creatine monohydrate. Some of these forms of creatine include creatine ethyl esther, krealklyn, pyruvate, hydrochloride, and buffered creatine. However, these claims are also myth, as no scientific evidence has been given to date that illustrates any other form of creatine is better than the godfather of creatine: creatine monohydrate.
It must also be noted that creatine is oftentimes thought of as unsafe. This must be immediately disregarded as numerous medical studies evaluating the use of creatine for medical conditions for up to 5 years have demonstrated no significant negative side effects.19 In fact creatine monohydrate has been shown to be not only one of the most effective supplements on the market today, but also one of the safest.
With that said, creatine is an non-protein nitrogen. Nitrogen is what is measured when laboratories measure how much protein is in a supplement. BEWARE: when manufacturers add creatine to their protein mixes, this completely skews the true protein measurement results. Thus, you as a consumer will never know how much protein is actually in a serving that claims to have 30g of protein if that blend is mixed with creatine!
Conclusion on Creatine Monohydrate
Based on the scientific evidence today, athletes of all kinds should utilize creatine monohydrate supplementation for improved athletic performance. As one of the most studied supplements on the market today, it has been shown in countless studies to enhance strength & power, increase size, and augment endurance based upon the athletes needs. These gains also come without negative side effects. For these reasons, creatine monohydrate is one of the five vital components included at clinical dosages in DIOXYME Muscle Protein Optimizer (MPO).
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