Creatine Supplementation: HIIT the Gym with Greater Intensity
Written by Britney Fiandra
Imagine being able to sprint like Usain Bolt or lift weights like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although the odds are not in our favor, creatine supplementation can put us one step closer. From increased strength, increased training volume, and improved body composition, creatine supplementation helps us achieve training goals more efficiently.
What is Creatine:
Creatine is an organic compound made up of 3 amino acids including arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine can created within the body or acquired from dietary sources. Animal proteins are a primary dietary source of creatine.
Creatine’s Role in the Body
Creatine is responsible for powering short duration, high-intensity anaerobic activity via the ATP-CP energy system within the body. During high intensity exercise, ATP is broken down in the body to provide energy for muscle movement. Creatine’s role is to regenerate and recycle ATP to supply energy for exercise (Wyss, et. al 2000).
Benefits of Supplementation
Supplementing with Creatine provides the body with increased creatine stores. As a result, ATP is resynthesized at an increased rate, muscle fatigue is delayed, and recovery is accelerated during repeated bouts of high intensity exercise. Ultimately, more energy is available to fuel workouts and physical performance is maximized (Preen, et. al, 2001).
Creatine’s Impact in Your Life
Creatine supplementation enhances the body’s capacity to perform high intensity exercise (Beck, et. al, 2007). This enhanced ability to train with more intensity leads to greater improvements in muscular strength and power. Over time, the increased training capacity results in decreased body fat and increased lean body mass percentages. In a practical sense, creatine supplementation gives an individual the upper edge, allowing them to pump out 1-2 more reps in the weight-room or sprint quicker on the track (Rawson, et. al, 2003).
Who Benefits Most
Individuals looking to improve performance in short duration, high intensity bouts of exercise will benefit from supplementation. Studies also show that creatine supplementation is most effective for speed, strength, and explosive sports. Examples of these activities include sprinting, weight-lifting, and soccer (Kreider, et. al, 2003).
Creatine has no known side effects other than fluid retention associated with water retention within the muscles. Water retention within the muscles is a benefit as it helps give muscles a plump, fuller appearance. One less commonly reported side effect includes GI distress, which typically has not been an issue when individuals do not exceed a dose of 10 gm/day.
Creatine is available in many forms on the market today. Creatine monohydrate has been shown to be the most effective form and is the most researched form. Other forms of creatine have been shown to be less effective and more expensive (Buford, 2007).
A 5g to 10g dose taken daily shows the greatest benefit to physical performance. Creatine can be taken at any time of the day and does not need to be timed around workouts to be effective. Some research shows creatine is more efficiently absorbed when taken with carbohydrates (Green, et. al, 1996).
Wyss, M., & Kaddurah-Daouk, R. (2000). Creatine and creatinine metabolism. Physiol Rev, 80(3), 1107-1213.
Preen D, Dawson B, Goodman C, Lawrence S, Beilby J, Ching S. Effect of creatine loading on long-term sprint exercise performance and metabolism. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33:814–21.
Beck TW, Housh TJ, Johnson GO, Coburn DW, Malek MH, Cramer JT. Effects of a drink containing creatine, amino acids, and protein, combined with ten weeks of resistance training on body composition, strength, and anaerobic performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21:100–104.
Rawson, E. S., & Volek, J. S. (2003). Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. J Strength Cond Res, 17(4), 822-831.
Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003;244:89–94.
Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2007;4:6. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-4-6.
Green AL, Hultman E, Macdonald IA, Sewell DA, Greenhaff PL. Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during creatine supplementation in humans. Am J Physiol. 1996;271:E821–6.