Why Aren’t You Supplementing with Creatine?
The supplement industry is big business. Year after year, the industry itself rakes in an estimated 20 billion dollars a year. Everyone is trying to cash in on this; the same stores that you can buy motor oil from now carry supplements. Even companies that make soda now tout products meant to increase your energy. In the documentary Bigger, Faster, Stronger, the filmmakers actually show just how easy it is to get a supplement out on the market, especially since the industry itself is unregulated.
Even with those regulations, creatine supplementation is just about universally agreed upon as one of the few supplements that is worth your money. Even registered dieticians and the medical community are finally getting educated on creatine supplementation and its benefits.
If you’re into hard training, then a big jar of creatine should be in your pantry. Creatine lies in the cells of your muscles and is responsible for creating a quick burst of energy; so the energy you use to do a 20 meter sprint, a 1RM deadlift, and even getting up out of your favorite Lazy Boy all rely on creatine. High intensity activities lasting 30 seconds or less benefit from creatine supplementation; especially if you’re going to repeat the exercise (1). So unlike other mystical concoctions you see crowding the shelves at supplement stores, creatine is a naturally occurring substance already found in the body. It’s also found in organic red meats.
For the doubters out there, the literature has concluded that creatine use is safe. The journal Amino Acids stated in 2011 that creatine is safe for the general population, with authors suggesting that only those with renal disease (or who is at risk) should avoid it (2). In fact, a four year study with creatine use showed no side effects whatsoever – except the occasional upset stomach (1). So if you’re in good health, then all is well.
But what about specific results? It us to be that only strongmen should use creatine, but more research is showing that creatine is of great use regardless of your training goals. In a month long study, researchers gave advanced bodybuilders 5 grams of creatine following their workout. They did this 5 times a week; after only 20 workouts, the bodybuilders had some pretty sweet results. These findings included a 1.2% loss in body fat, 4 pounds of muscle gained, and 18 pounds added to their bench press (3). What’s so cool about this study is that it was done with subjects who already had plenty of training experience, which shows what a sucker punch creatine can give you.
In order to get the most out of your creatine, add 5 grams of creatine to your post workout shake. Research seems to show that creatine taken in post workout is the way to go. For the truly hardcore though, you can take creatine pre and post workout.
Muscle? Check. Stronger? Check. Fat loss too? You bet! Looks like spending money on creatine is money well spent.
1. Schilling, B.K., Stone, M.H., et al. “Creatine Supplementation and Health Variables: a Retrospective Study.” (2001) Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 33;2, 183-188
2.Kim, H.Y., Kim, C.K., et al. “Studies on the Safety of Creatine Supplementation.” (2011) Amino Acids 40, 1409-1418
3. Antonio, Jose. Ciccone, Victora. “The Effects of Pre Versus Post Workout Supplementation of Creatine Monohydrate on Body Composition and Strength.” Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition. (2013)10:1, 36