• Doug Joachim

The Best Supplement For Strength & Performance


Creatine is one of the sports supplement industry's most widely studied ergogenic aids. It has decades of evidence supporting its efficacy. It is safe for most healthy people and has very few side effects. It has even been shown to be safe at high doses for long periods. It is the best legal and safe exercise supplement on the market. Primarily it improves high-intensity exercise performance and resistance training outcomes, including strength and hypertrophy. It has an essential role in powering exercise and movement while it also enhances the brain, skeletal system, and hormone regulation.


NOTE: We can have a serious debate whether creatine monohydrate is truly the 'best' supplement for strength and performance. The other two top contenders (legal) are caffeine and whey protein. Most people looking for exercise and performance benefits can't go wrong with any or all three. Personally, I mix creatine in my coffee in the morning; and if I can't get sufficient protein from food sources during the day, I will supplement with whey protein (either in shake form or in yogurt).


Creatine is a naturally occurring substance produced by the body in small amounts. It is also found naturally in meat and some fish. Chevreul discovered creatine in 1832, and nearly 100 years later, it was determined that creatine plays a central role in energy production during muscle contraction. In humans, the majority of creatine is stored in skeletal muscle where creatine, phosphocreatine and the enzyme creatine kinase, react with adenosine diphosphate, to resynthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP).


Evidence-based benefits of creatine supplementation:

  1. Helps muscle cells produce more energy - providing more ATP

  2. Increases lean muscle mass

  3. Assists the muscle cells to retain water (muscle cell volumizing effect)

  4. Raises insulin growth factor (IGF-1)

  5. Improves high-intensity exercise performance (weight training & sprint-like activities)

  6. Speeds muscle growth

  7. Creatine may also aid brain function by increasing dopamine levels and mitochondrial function.

  8. Creatine can reduce symptoms of fatigue and tiredness

  9. Creatine is one of the safest sports supplements available

  10. Assists in exercise recovery and faster adaptations

  11. Creatine supplementation might help counteract age-related declines in skeletal muscle and bone mineral density

  12. Helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis

For more info check out: Examine.com clearinghouse of peer-reviewed data and the magnitude of effect of creatine supplementation.


NOTE: Creatine supplementation does have some side effects. The most common side effect is weight gain because creatine causes water retention in the skeletal muscles. Not all people experience this side effect, though it is common to gain 2-7 lbs. Some people also complain about stomach discomfort after taking the supplement. Both of these side effects will disappear once you cease supplementation.


"Creatine plays a pivotal role in brain energy homeostasis, being a temporal and spatial buffer for cytosolic and mitochondrial pools of the cellular energy currency, adenosine triphosphate and its regulator, adenosine diphosphate." Research undertaken by scientists at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University in Australia has shown that taking creatine as a dietary supplement can significantly boost working memory and general intelligence. It is far from being a magic bullet but data is becoming compelling. New research suggests that creatine monohydrate supplementation may positively impact brain function, including improved cognitive processing and better recovery from brain injury. As per usual more human research needs to be done.

Based on an evidence-based scientific evaluation of the literature - Here are answers to concerns about supplementation:


  1. Creatine is not an anabolic steroid and is safe when taken at recommended doses.

  2. Creatine supplementation does not result in kidney damage and/or renal dysfunction in healthy individuals.

  3. There is no link between creatine supplementation and hair loss/baldness.

  4. Creatine supplementation does not cause dehydration or muscle cramping.

  5. Creatine supplementation appears to be generally safe and potentially beneficial for children and adolescents - although more research needs to be done.

  6. Creatine supplementation does not increase fat mass.

  7. Creatine' loading' phase is not required.

  8. Creatine supplementation and resistance training produce considerable musculoskeletal and performance benefits in older adults.

  9. Creatine supplementation can be beneficial for a variety of athletic and sporting activities.

  10. Creatine supplementation provides a variety of benefits for females.

  11. Creatine monohydrate is the most effective creatine supplement.

  12. It is flavorless and easily mixes with water or other beverages.

  13. Creatine is not a compelling performance aid for most endurance-based activities, like marathon running.


Recommended Use:

  • Take 3-5g grams daily

  • Mix in water or other beverage

  • Do not bother 'loading' creatine

  • Use creatine monohydrate


References:

  1. Roschel, H., Gualano, B., Ostojic, S. M., Rawson, E. S. Creatine supplementation and brain health. Nutrients2021;13(2), 586.

  2. Dolan, E. Gualano, B., Rawson, E. S.Beyond muscle: the effects of creatine supplementation on brain creatine, cognitive processing, and traumatic brain injury.Eur J Sport Sci, 2019;19(1):1-14.

  3. Butts J, Jacobs B, Silvis M. Creatine Use in Sports. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 10(1):31-4, 2018

  4. Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, Candow DG, Kleiner SM, Almada AL, Lopez HL. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 14:18, 2017

  5. Jäger R, Purpura M, Shao D, Inoue T, Kreider RB. Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino Acids. 40(5):1369-83, 2011

  6. Ramírez-Campillo R, González-Jurado JA, Martínez C, Nakamura FY, Peñailillo L, Meylan CMP, Caniuqueo A, Cañas-Jamet R, Moran J, Alonso-Martínez AM, Izquierdo M. Effects of plyometric training and creatine supplementation on maximal-intensity exercise and endurance in female soccer players. J Sci Med Sport. 19(8):682-7, 2016

  7. Williams J, Abt G, Kilding A. Effects of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Simulated Soccer Performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 9(3):503-10, 2014

  8. van Loon LJ, Oosterlaar A, Hartgens F, Hesselink M, Snow R, Wagenmakers AJM. Effects of creatine loading and prolonged creatine supplementation on body composition, fuel selection, sprint and endurance performance in humans. Clin Sci. 104(2):153-62. 2003

  9. Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jiminez A. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 9(1):33, 2012

  10. Van Schuylenbergh R, Van Leemputte M, Hespel P. Effects of oral creatine-pyruvate supplementation in cycling performance. Int J Sports Med. 24(2):144-50, 2003

  11. Reardon T, Ruell P, Fiatarone Singh M, Thompson C, Rooney K. Creatine supplementation does not enhance submaximal aerobic training adaptations in healthy young men and women. Eur J Appl Physiol. 98(3):234-41, 2006

  12. Murphy A, Watsford M, Coutts AJ, Richards D. Effects of creatine supplementation on aerobic power and cardiovascular structure and function. J Sci Med Sport. 8(3):305-13, 2005

  13. Kilduff L, Gerogiades E, James N, Minnion R, Mitchell M, Kingsmore D, Hadjicharlambous M, Pitsiladis Y. The effects of creatine supplementation on cardiovascular, metabolic, and thermoregulatory responses during exercise in the heat in endurance-trained humans. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 14(4):443-60, 2004

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