Creatine is an organic, non-protein amino-acid that is largely produced by the liver with smaller amounts also being produced in the kidneys and pancreas. Creatine is stored with phosphate, in skeletal muscle tissue as phosphocreatine (PCr), and donates its phosphate in the process of converting adenosine diphosphate (ADP) into adenosine triphosphate (ATP); a process known as phosphorylation.
ATP is an energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things. ATP captures chemical energy obtained from the breakdown of food molecules and releases it to fuel other cellular processes. It is needed for three major roles: 1) to drive metabolic processes that don’t occur automatically, 2) transportation of substances across cellular membranes and 3) to perform mechanical work.
Carbohydrate, protein and fats are utilised by the energy systems of the body to produce ATP. The aerobic system is able to utilise the energy from carbohydrate, fat and protein via a process known as oxidative phosphorylation, and produces the largest amount of ATP. However, it is also the slowest of all the energy systems. The lactic acid system only utilises the energy from glucose via a process called glycolysis, and is mostly responsible for fuelling high intensity activities lasting a few minutes. The phosphocreatine system is responsible for high intensity activities lasting ~30 seconds and utilises the phosphate from creatine phosphate.
Creatine monohydrate (CrM) is one of the most researched supplements and has shown to be safe, effective and well-tolerated in numerous studies. 1
After creatine loading, performance of high intensity and/or repetitive exercise is generally increased by 10–20% depending on the magnitude of increase in muscle PCr. 1
Numerous studies have shown that creatine supplementation has been shown to:
– enhance acute exercise capacity
– increase muscle mass
– reduce muscle acidosis
– increase muscle phosphocreatine (PCr) resynthesis
– act as important regulator of metabolism
– act as an antioxidant
– reduce injury risk
– improve recovery rate
– enhanced heat tolerance
– enhanced injury rehabilitation
– brain and spinal cord neuroprotection
and has been shown to be useful in many physical activities such as weightlifting, powerlifting, sprinting, cycling and many team sports. 1
Creatine monohydrate can be dosed rapidly or slowly, the choice of which protocol to use depends on the speed at which the benefits are needed.
The rapid protocol involves taking 5g of CrM (or 0.3 g/kg body weight), four times daily. Peak saturation is achieved in 5-7 days after which, the dose is reduced to 5g daily. Alternatively, CrM can be dosed at 3-5g daily for 28 days. 1,2 3, 4
To maintain full saturation of muscular phosphocreatine, it is recommended that 3-5g of CrM is taken per day, in addition to obtaining 3g from dietary sources. 1
Creatine monohydrate has also been shown to have benefits beyond sport and physical activity. 1, 5
Numerous studies have investigated the role of supplemental creatine and found positive effects, These clinical situations included:
– genetic creatine deficiencies
– neurodegenerative diseases (such as Huntington’s, Parkinson, ALS and Alzheimer’s)
– ischaemic heart disease
“It remains to be seen if creatine has the ability to alter age-associated, progressive neurodegenerative disorders once individuals are in intermediate or late stages of the disease. However, based on the creatine interaction with energy metabolism and subsequent neuroprotective mechanisms, the interest for studying alternative uses for creatine in physiology is enhanced.” 1, 5
There has been some concern over the years that creatine could adversely affect renal health. A few studies have suggested that creatine supplementation was causative in athletes renal dysfunction 6 and another study even associated it with the death of three wrestlers 7. However, in these studies, it was impossible to conclusively show that creatine was causative and additional research continues to show that creatine is very safe and offers many health benefits, even beyond sport and fitness applications. 1
From a long-term perspective, muscle creatine levels do not fall below baseline after cessation of creatine supplementation; therefore, the potential for long-term suppression of endogenous creatine synthesis does not appear to occur. 1 This would indicate that CrM can potentially be taken indefinitely.
Creatine monohydrate supplementation has been shown to be beneficial in many sports and fitness activities such as sprinting, cycling, weightlifting and powerlifting. It has also been shown to have potential benefits in clinical situations such as in those with ischaemic heart disease, Huntington’s disease and age-related decline.
CrM can be initially dosed rapidly or slowly depending on the needs and goals of the individuals. Long-term supplementation with CrM does not appear to effect endogenous creatine production, indicating that CrM can potentially be taken indefinitely.
CrM is well-tolerated in most individuals and offers many significant health benefits. CrM is a low risk, well studied supplement that appears to offer benefits beyond sport and physique applications.
P.S. From a personal perspective I have seen a noticeable improvement in my sprint and resistance training capacity and recovery. Sadly training hurts as much as before 🤪😂 and I did experience mild dehydration in my first week of supplementation (it resolved after this). I have also recommended my parents take creatine (due to their age and my dad is T2D and my mum has AD). I will also continue to use it for the foreseeable future.
And if you would like to try creatine, I recommend VPA as they’re 🇦🇺 owned, with quality products, great service and really well priced. To get 15% off your first order, use this link https://vpa.fit/naomi
- Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. 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). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
- Hultman E, et al. Muscle creatine loading in men. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1996;81(1):232–7.
- Harris RC, Soderlund K, Hultman E. Elevation of creatine in resting and exercised muscle of normal subjects by creatine supplementation. Clin Sci (Lond). 1992;83(3):367–74.
- Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003;244(1–2):89–94.
- Smith RN, Agharkar AS, Gonzales EB. A review of creatine supplementation in age-related diseases: more than a supplement for athletes. F1000Res. 2014;3:222. Published 2014 Sep 15. doi:10.12688/f1000research.5218.1
- Thorsteinsdottir B, Grande JP, Garovic VD. Acute renal failure in a young weight lifter taking multiple food supplements, including creatine monohydrate. J Ren Nutr. 2006;16(4):341–5.
- Pritchard NR, Kalra PA. Renal dysfunction accompanying oral creatine supplements. Lancet. 1998;351(9111):1252–3.