Does Creatine Really Work?

Sheena Jones
By Sheena Jones
September 12, 2012

does creatine really workAn estimated 40% of college athletes and up to 50% of professional athletes say they use creatine. Even 8% of adolescents admit to using the muscle-building supplement creatine.

Creatine is used because it can improve strength, help muscles recover, enhance performance and build mass. Even as popular as Creatine is, many people continue to wonder does creatine really work?

Some medical experts say it may not work as well as people believe, but fitness experts and research show creatine is one of the very best creatine supplements available.

What Is Creatine?

During an intense workout, your muscles expend a lot of energy. Where does this energy come from? And where can you get more of it? From creatine.

The liver makes creatine from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Ninety-five percent of it is stored in your skeletal muscles and the rest goes to your brain, heart, and testes — if you’re a guy.

According to WebMD.com, creatine “turns into creatine phosphate in the body…[which] helps make a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the energy for muscle contractions.”

Once creatine is used up, it gets converted into creatinine and is excreted in urine.

Is Creatine Really Effective?

“Despite creatine’s wide use, the evidence that creatine supplements improve athletic performance is inconclusive,” asserts an article on WebMD.com. However, this assertion may not be true. Most studies show that creatine can and does improve strength, recovery, performance, and mass.

“Several high-quality studies have shown an increase in muscle mass with the use of creatine,” says the Mayo Clinic. “Overall, the available evidence suggests that creatine does increase lean body mass, strength, and total work.”

In one of these studies, the link between creatine and IGF-1 was examined. People who exercised regularly were given either creatine or a placebo. At the end, people who took creatine experienced a 78% increase in muscle IGF-1, which was significantly higher than what the placebo group experienced. [1]

Another study found that using creatine for one week (25 grams a day) gave people better muscle performance during weight lifting. [2]

does creatine really workA double-blind study examined the effect of creatine on endurance. People who took creatine and then participated in high-intensity exercise were able to work out longer than those taking the placebo. [3]

A 12-week placebo-controlled study of weightlifters found that people taking creatine could lift more weight and they gained more muscle than the placebo group. [4]

Yet another study showed that taking creatine helps increase muscle contractions, strength, and fat-free muscle mass. [5]

Granted, not every study on creatine has produced positive results. But most studies do show that, not only does creatine really work, it is also safe for most people.

The Best Way to Use Creatine

As is the case with other supplements, the results you get from a high-quality creatine supplement depends on how you use it. If you want to improve strength, performance, recovery and build mass using creatine, here’s what you need to do:

1.Take the Best Creatine

Since it became popular, creatine has been marketed in candy, drinks, gum, and bars. However, studies show that none of these methods is more effective than a creatine monohydrate supplement. Other high-quality types of creatine are Creapure, Kre-Alkalyn Creatine, Creatine Ethyl Ester, and Creatine Malate.

2. Load

“Research has shown that the most rapid way to increase muscle creatine stores is to follow the loading method,” says Richard Kreider, PhD, chairman of the Department of Health. He recommends taking 5 grams of creatine, four times a day, for 5 to 7 days. After that, you only need a maintenance dose of 3 to 5 grams daily.

3. Take It with Carbs

Creatine uptake by the muscles is influenced by insulin, which means taking creatine with large amounts of glucose or carbohydrates can help enhance creatine uptake. Kreider suggests that athletes take creatine with a high carbohydrate drink or supplement.

4. Work Out Hard

You can get the most out of creatine by doing intense, resistance workouts while you use it. Since creatine increases muscle strength, endurance, and pumps, it should be easier for you to increase your intensity and output. Also, creatine should help speed up muscle growth and recovery.

So, does creatine really work? Time and time again, studies have supported the claims that creatine can boost muscle strength, reduce recovery time, increase muscle mass, and enhance athletic performance. It is also considered to be safe for most people.

Not everyone who tries creatine gets results, because not everyone responds the same to this substance. But for most people, creatine is and will continue to be one of the best muscle-building supplements on the market.

myoswellIf you’re in the market for a creatine supplement, Amazon has a great offer on one of the best there is Myoswell.

Myoswell utilizes the premier form of creatine, kre-alkalyn creatine, to help you maximize absorption while limiting the side effects and still delivering the best benefits you can get from a creatine supplement.

[1] Burke, D.G. et al. (2008). Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance exercise training on muscle insulinlike growth factor in young adults. Int J Sports Nutr Exerc Metab. 18:389-398

[2] Volek JS and others. Creatine supplementation enhances muscular performance during high-intensity resistance exercise. Journal of American Dietetic Association 97:765-770, 1997.

[3] Prevost MC, Nelson AG, Morris GS. Creatine supplementation enhances intermittent work performance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 68:233-240, 1997.

[4] Volek JS and others. Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 31:1147-1156, 1999.

[5] Vandenberghe K and others. Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training. Journal of Applied Physiology 83:2055-2063, 1997.