Creatine

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Experience From - Linda Beavers, Karl King#1, Will Brown , Karl King#2 , Douglas Spink , Michael Jones ,


Linda Beavers

Creatine, is a natural component of many meats. Some people use it if their diet is limited in these foods as mine is since I am a vegetarian. But many people also use it to help boost their workouts. I don't know much about it and was wondering if anyone else knows anything about this supplement.


Karl King

Most of the commonly available literature on creatine is put out or tied to those who sell it. Therefore, some bias is found in the coverage. If you want to read unbiased material, see:

Running Research News
Volume 9-1, Jan-Feb 1993 and
Volume 12-3, April 1996

RRN
PO Box 27041
Lansing MI 48909
rrn@gisd.com

Essentially, creatine is a reservoir for storage of high energy phosphate bonds. In short bursts, such at the 100 yard dash, creatine phosphate supplies much of the energy. It can also donate the phosphate to ADP (adenosine di - phosphate) to form ATP, adensine tri phosphate, the main fuel of muscle contraction( and all sorts of other bodily processes ).

Creatine as a supplement is relatively expensive. It is effective at assisting energy production, especially in anaerobic work.

It is normally found in the body, and foods, therefore it is not a "drug" and is legal to use in competition. Supposedly, Linford Christie used it during the Olympics when he ran sprints.


Will Brown

I tried it for about 2 months and stopped. The stuff I read said it would not enhance performance in endurance events, and might even hinder it because of the weight gain. I wanted to put on a few pounds and add size and definition to my upper body. I only gained about 2 pounds, but I did see a noticeable difference in definition. I also added reps to my workout. I don't lift weights anymore - I use one of the Navy SEAL pullup-pushup-dips workouts.

The problem I had was a soreness in my upper right arm and shoulder that came on about 2 weeks into my creatine use. At first I thought it might have been a mouse or keyboard repetitive motion problem, but I finally decided it was the creatine. Ron McBee had a similar problem. The soreness was bothering my running, so I quit. After a couple of weeks the soreness was gone, I lost 2 pounds and my upper body shrank back to its normal self. Creatine is expensive, by the way. Now I can afford some other supplements that "might" enhance performance.


Karl King#2

I've tried this on a few long training runs. My experience was

  1. Improved hill climbing in the first 30 minutes of the run
  2. No apparent effect after 30 minutes
  3. A couple pounds weight gain which probably increased blood pressure
  4. Which led to elevated heart rate ( 10 bpm or so ).

When I stopped the creatine, the weight and heart rate returned to normal.

Given the high price and minimal to negative results, I'd say that creatine is of little value in endurance events.


Douglas Spink

"Do you think that it is useful?"

Lots of research supports the benefits of creatine for power athletes like lifters. I haven't seen any conclusive work on endurance athletes, though it may be out there.

"What type of benefits do you derive from using it"

Increased ability in short-burst, anaerobic movements. Somewhat faster recovery. Increased 'burn' in muscle groups, which leads to faster gains in muscle power and size. Again, all this is lifting-specific.

"Do you simply load in the weeks leading up to a race and if so what quantities are we talking?"

The most current research I have seen suggests 7-8 week cycling. I've also heard from one of the original researchers on creatine loading that most plans advertised today "way" overdo on quantities. Here's what I think is a good 7 week creatine cycle for an average (150 pound) runner:

week 1: 5 grams/day
week 2: 5 grams/day
week 3: 10 grams/day
week 4: 15 grams/day
week 5: 20 grams/day
week 6: 10 grams/day
week 7: 5 grams/day

Then, I suggest 2-3 weeks without creatine supplementation.

"Is it worth drinking a sports drink during the race that contains Creatine or is it too late (Aussie Bodies have a drink called "Creatine Blast" which is designed to be consumed during the race - hence the question)?"

Personally, I think it is useless to take creatine during a workout. The whole point is to load it into the muscles beforehand; drinking during seems to miss that point entirely. Note: I do not have hard research to support this opinion.

"I have also read that the loading of Creatine can cause a weight increase by causing intra cellular fluid retention?

Oh boy, will it! Most people gain 5-10 pounds of water mass within a week of taking creatine. It will *not* increase muscle definition, but it will make you look 'fuller.'

Downside: a substantial minority of creatine users find it causes mild to moderate joint soreness. I've never found research on this (maybe because manufacturers sponsor most research?), but in talking to dozens of users I'd say about 30% find the soreness to be a real problem. I know I do, especially in joints I have broken or otherwise mangled previously.

When one stops, this pain goes away fairly quickly. Still, it is something to watch out for.

"I would greatly appreciate any input from those of you have tried it or have the technical know how that I certainly don't."

My advice: unless you are a lifter, rock climber, or other power-hungry athlete, avoid it. Creatine is naturally derived from meat sources, especially red meat. However, factory farmed red meat has much lower creatine levels than wild meats, per some recent research. Actually, this line of research extends all the way back into the 1880s! Anyway, if you want naturally-occurring creatine, probably best to seek out wild meats such as venison or elk.


Michael Jones

Creatine: A Review of Efficacy and Safety

Angie S. Graham, Randy C. Hatton

Objective: To provide an overview of the data on the efficacy and safety of the nutritional supplement creatine.

Data Sources:
Human studies in English in MEDLINE, Current Contents, BIOSIS, Science Citation Index, and the popular media (including a LEXIS-NEXIS search and information from the World Wide Web and lay media) for 1966 to July 1999 using the search terms creatine, creatine supplement#, creatine monophosphate, and creatine NOT kinase.

Data Synthesis:
Creatine use is common among professional athletes. Its use has spread to college athletes, recreational athletes, and even children. Most creatine supplement regimens include a loading dose of 20 to 30 grams divided in 4 equal doses for 5 to 7 days, followed by a 2 gram per day maintenance dose. The increased creatine in the muscle may allow larger stores of phosphocreatine to build, and provide extra energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate. Despite the many clinical trials, high-quality research is lacking. Laboratory investigations of endurance isotonic exercises, strength and endurance during isotonic exercises, isokinetic torque, isometric force, and ergometer performance have yielded roughly an equal number of published studies showing a positive effect or lack of effect. Field studies (i.e., on subjects participating in sports activities) are less impressive than laboratory studies. Performance was more often improved for short-duration, high-intensity activities. Reports have linked creatine to weight gain, cramping, dehydration, diarrhea, and dizziness. Creatine may decrease renal function, but only two case reports of this effect have been published. Creatine appears to be well tolerated in short-term trials.

Conclusion:
While creatine may enhance the performance of high-intensity, short-duration exercise, it is not useful in endurance sports. Because commercially marketed creatine products do not meet the same quality control standards of pharmaceuticals, there is always a concern of impurities or doses higher or lower than those on the labeling. Consumers should balance the quality of information supporting the use of creatine with the known and theoretical risks of using the product, including possible renal dysfunction.

[J Am Pharm Assoc 39(6):803-810, 1999. 1999 American Pharmaceutical Association, Inc.]

For full text see: http://primarycare.medscape.com/APhA/JAPhA/1999/jap3906.02.grah/jap3906.02.grah-01.html