Is it really necessary?
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There are a lot of myths and strong opinions surrounding creatine that become evident as soon as you talk to your local “expert”. However, using good science, it all comes down to the primary research and peer reviewed evidence when trying to make informed decisions.
What is creatine? It is found in our muscle cells and is a key contributor of energy by increasing the production of ATP.
Is it bad for you? There have been isolated reports of muscle cramping and impaired kidney function that have occurred in conjunction with beginning a creatine supplementation regime. However, these are all anecdotal cases which are NOT good science. Reviewing the available literature, the evidence weights in favour of creatine being safe if used properly (approximately 0.1 g/Kg body weight).
***NOTE: It SHOULD NOT be used if kidney function is impaired prior to using the product.
**NOTE: The only consistently documented and research supported side effect appears to be an increase in lean mass, which is a good thing! Is has also shown to improve strength, which most likely results from increased muscle mass.
What is the fuss about pH buffered creatine?
Creatinine is a byproduct of creatine metabolism in the small intestine and muscle cell that is excreted via the kidneys. It unfortunately it cannot be reabsorbed by the kidney to be reconverted back to creatine. It is hypothesized that the acidic environment of the small intestine is a contributing factor for increased creatine to creatinine conversion. Hence, companies now mix creatine with sodium bicarbonate (alkaline buffer) to help keep creatine intact as it moves to the muscle cell.
Solution? Perhaps take the original creatine monohydrate with an alkaline acid reflux chewable tablet and it should work the same. If not, you may want to pay the extra few dollars for the buffered product.
Is creatine for everyone?
Definitely NOT! Why take more supplements if you don’t have to. Perhaps only for high performance athletes or fitness competitors who have hit a plateau and are struggling to increase lean mass. For the general population this kind of supplementation is not necessary.
The majority of clinical studies fail to find an increased incidence of side effects with creatine supplementation. To date, studies have not found clinically significant deviations from normal values in renal, hepatic, cardiac or muscle function. Few data are available on the long-term consequences of creatine supplementation.
No strong evidence linking creatine supplementation to deterioration of these functions has been found. In fact, most reports on side effects, such as muscle cramping, gastrointestinal symptoms, changes in renal and hepatic laboratory values, remain anecdotal because the case studies do not represent well-controlled trials, so no causal relationship between creatine supplementation and these side-effects has yet been established. The only documented side effect is an increase in body mass.
Creatine supplementation does not impair kidney function in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Creatinine clearance, serum and urinary urea, electrolytes, proteinuria, and albuminuria were unchanged. CR supplementation does not affect kidney function in type 2 diabetic patients, opening a window of opportunities to explore its promising therapeutic role in this population.
Oral creatine supplementation (Cr) may attenuate cardiovascular responses after exercise via improved anaerobic metabolism. These findings suggest that Cr supplementation attenuates the hemodynamic and baPWV responses after acute isokinetic exercise.
The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of supplementation with Gaspari Nutrition’s SOmaxP Maximum Performance™ (SOmaxP) versus a comparator product (CP) containing an equal amount of creatine (4 g), carbohydrate (39 g maltodextrin), and protein (7 g whey protein hydrolysate) on muscular strength, muscular endurance, and body composition during nine weeks of intense resistance training. Both SOmaxP and the CP were well-tolerated, and no supplement safety issues were identified.
There is no consensus on the best diet for exercise, as many variables influence it. We propose an approach that is based on the total energy expenditure of exercise and the specific macro- and micronutrients used. We propose that for submaximal exercise, the balance of CHO and fat favors fat for longer exercise and CHO for shorter exercise, while always maintaining the minimal requirements of each (CHO: 40% and fat: 30%). A case for higher protein (above 15%) as well as creatine supplementation for resistance exercise has been proposed.
The decrease in cystatin C indicates that high-dose creatine supplementation over 3 months does not provoke any renal dysfunction in healthy males undergoing aerobic training. In addition, the results suggest that moderate aerobic training per se may improve renal function.
We conclude that creatine intake stimulates GLUT-4 and glycogen content in human muscle only when combined with changes in habitual activity level. Furthermore, combined protein and creatine supplementation improved oral glucose tolerance, which is supposedly unrelated to the changes in muscle GLUT-4 expression.