Creatine Roundtable Series
After reading Creatine Roundtable – Part 1: What’s The Deal? and then tickling your brain in Creatine Roundtable – Part 2: Forms Of Creatine, we can now move onto the meat of the trilogy – the benefits of creatine supplementation.
As you can see by clicking this chart to your left, Creatine supplementation is quite beneficial, to say the least. It’s not all hype. Creatine does the trick… and it does it well!
Let’s talk about the beneficial effects of Creatine without getting sidetracked about the background and the science aspects…
In a good article published by SimplyShredded.com, called The Ultimate Creatine Guide For Maximum Muscle Gains, the author, Sol Orwell, outlines the many uses and benefits of creatine, almost flawlessly.
Creatine is the most common sports performance supplement, catered mostly towards increasing the rate of muscle growth and increasing power output with somewhat lesser but present benefits on skeletal muscle endurance. Basically, it lets you lift a bit more. Beyond these usages, which are the most common reasons people choose to supplement creatine, creatine supplementation also appears to have neuroprotective properties and may act as a cognitive enhancer (for vegetarians) or antidepressant (currently only shown in females). Although not directly demonstrated in human interventions, the mechanisms of creatine supplementation also suggest it can preserve cellular integrity (reducing apoptosis rates) and promote cellular longevity. Basically, it has a lot of other side-benefits.
Well, well, well… it seems there is more to Creatine then meets the eye! As you already know from Part 1 and Part 2, Creatine gives our cells more energy to utilize, and allows those cells to function better overall.
More Energy and Intensity
Creatine is involved in a system in the body known as the Creatine Phosphate System. How this system operates is like so:
…where creatine and creatine phosphate interchangeably donate or accept a phosphate group. This phosphate group can readily replenish other molecules that lose theirs and need a replacement, and the most notable and relevant example of this is replenishing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) from ADP (adenosine diphosphate). ATP is the main ‘energy currency’ of a cell. Creatine lets you replenish ATP directly without needing to go through a lengthy process of breaking down other molecules into it.
Yes, that’s alot of scientific mumbo jumbo – but it’s actually quite simple.
Let’s get you acquainted with the ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) Cycle in your body. Without getting too complicated, ATP is your body’s energy source.
When your body oxidizes macros (protein, carbs, fat), it is doing this process to produce ATP. ATP provides the energy to fuel your body and its mechanisms.
That’s not all, though. During an ATP cycle, a phosphate gets lost somewhere in there, and we are now left with ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate). ADP is useless in the body unless its converted back to ATP!
When a phosphate group is hydrolyzed, energy in the form of heat is given off and this energy is used to drive whatever process is being performed, for example muscle contraction. Because one phosphate has been lost from the ATP it is now called ADP (adenine Di-phosphate). The reaction is as follows ATP (hydrolysis)=ADP + Energy. Now you have free ADP as a product from the ATP hydrolysis. ADP is pretty much useless in the body unless it is converted back into ATP. Now this is where creatine comes into play. The phosphate bound creatine donates it’s phosphate group to the ADP to re-form ATP! I assume you see where this is going now. By allowing you to return ADP to ATP creatine will increase your ATP stores, thus allowing you to train harder and longer.
The short version: Creatine increases ATP within the body and gives you more energy and intensity to train harder and train longer!
Is Creatine Supplementation Safe?
Common bro-science advises us that creatine is very safe and amazing. Point taken. But, luckily for us, actual science also indicates that Creatine is quite safe.
At this point in time, there are no clinically relevant side effects known to be caused by creatine supplementation. ‘Clinically relevant’ in this sense means anything that can cause adverse effects to your health (such as kidney or liver damage, both of which have equivocally refuted), as there are a few ‘side-effects’ associated with creatine supplementation.
There is one potential downside: taking too much Creatine at once MIGHT result in some good old fashioned diarrhea. An upset stomach and possible nausea are other possible side effects, depending on the person and the amount of Creatine ingested.
Taking too much creatine at once, due to a combination of limited intestinal absorption in high doses and drawing water into the intestines, can cause diarrhea. Additionally, the water drawing properties can lead to an upset stomach or nausea.
How Much Creatine Do I Take?
Now onto the actual ingestion. How much creatine should I take? Do I need to have a loading period? What do I mix Creatine with? How long do I take Creatine for?
All excellent questions, and thanks to Gone Liftin’ and our boys over at SimplyShredded.com who wrote this cool Creatine outline, you will receive excellent answers to your questions.
It was once thought that creatine needs to be cycled. Recent studies have disproven this theory, and creatine does not necessarily need to be cycled.
Creatine does not need to be cycled. The traditional usage of creatine cycles (1 week loading, 3 weeks maintenance, 1-2 weeks off) is fairly redundant anyways as creatine takes much longer to clear the body.
Generally speaking, for someone who is nonathletic, or moderately athletic, roughly 2-3 grams a day of creatine will suffice. Athletes who have higher levels of output should ingest more creatine. A minimum dose of about 5 grams a day will do well in the body.
Myth of Creatine Loading
What about loading? Scientific research, as well as the opinion of Gone Liftin’, shows that Creatine loading phases may be useful in some ways, but in general, are not at all needed.
Mind you, loading is not necessarily a negative component. Creatine loading can be a good factor to determine how an individual responds to creatine, which isn’t so bad. Just keep in mind that Creatine loading is NOT a necessity – despite what it says on the bottle.
Loading periods can be useful, particularly in seeing if you are a responder to creatine supplementation (as water weight gain will be more noticeable), but are by no means needed.
When Should I Take Creatine?
Creatine can and should be taken daily. Any time of the day is fine. We at Gone Liftin’ prefer taking Creatine immediately post-workout, by putting a scoop into our post-workout Whey Protein Shakes. Creatine can be put in water, juice, milk, whatever beverage you are set on drinking.
However, keep this in mind:
There is some evidence that suggests (but does not prove) that taking creatine alongside caloric and nutrient intake would be more beneficial than taking it in a fasted state, so it may be prudent to take creatine with meals.
Does Creatine Effect Fat Loss?
As far as everyone knows, Creatine does not have any direct effect on fat loss – neither negative nor positive.
Out of the many variable controlled studies that were performed, including a placebo group, no significant effects of fat loss were shown. So we are led to believe that Creatine has no direct effect on shredding body fat.
We are of the opinion, however, that if you supplement with Creatine you are increasing your power output, and therefore your intensity, and therefore working harder. All of this equals burning more calories, which equals what? Fat loss. So it can be said that Creatine can inadvertently effect fat loss, but there is no scientific proof of this.
We believe that if you work out hard, get your diet in check, and throw Creatine into your list of supplements, you will be on the right path towards losing unwanted body fat.
But Wait, There’s More!
With all these great benefits Creatine has to offer, it’s pretty hard to believe that it does even more good. Well, it does!
Creatine is neurprotective, so researchers have been performing studies on Creatine supplementation and cognition. While there hasn’t been any concrete evidence as of yet, being that Creatine is neuroprotective, it is beneficial for the brain.
In an overall healthy omnivore with sufficient sleep, creatine is still neuroprotective and beneficial for the brain. However, there are unlikely to be any noticeable effects on cognition.
When you go over to the Creatine article from SimplyShredded.com, you will come across a little blurb about Creatine having positive effects on cognitive function for vegans and vegetarians.
In vegetarians or vegans, creatine supplementation can be referred to as a cognitive enhancer.
There has been alot of research coming out showing Creatine to be a defense mechanism in battling depression. Protection from neurological diseases, as well as exerting positive membrane protecting effects, have also been noted in scientific studies:
There’s a lot of research coming out that shows creatine can help in a lot of ways. It could help against depression, against neurological disease, exert membrane protective effects, be anti-diabetic, and even help cognition.
Are You Convinced?
Well, we are gonna have to stop here guys. That just about covers the Gone Liftin’ Creatine Trilogy, and we sincerely hope you enjoyed it and got something useful out of it.
For more information, click this link to go over to SimplyShredded.com’s Creatine article for some more info. And don’t forget to thoroughly understand, Part 1 and Part 2 of our Creatine Roundtable series.
Thanks for stopping by, and we hope that Creatine becomes a staple of your regime!