Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most popular and well known supplements that is available from supplement stores today.

Used for muscle gain, strength and improving recovery, Creatine has been involved in well over 200 studies to research for safety and effectiveness.

Around for many years, Creatine is used in a variety of formulas including pre and post workout to anti aging skin care. Banned in France because of its outstanding results, Creatine can be beneficial for any individual wanting to make physical and visual improvements.

Let’s look at a bit of background:

The general idea is that fatigue during intense exercise our energy firing arsenal of ATP are in short supply due to the rapid depleted of phosphocreatine (CrP) levels. This is where oral creatine supplementation maybe beneficial increasing muscle creatine levels. This leads to enhanced performance during repetitive or endurance training

So what is Creatine?

Creatine is a muscle fuel. Creatine supplementation has shown to increase creatine stores, similar to those of carbohydrate loading for glycogen (energy from carbohydrates) storage (2). Creatine is a compound obtained from amino acids (building blocks of protein – arginine, glycine and methionine) and is stored mainly in the skeletal muscle.   Creatine is transported into the muscle by a transport system that is stimulated by insulin (3).

What foods is creatine found in?

Creatine can be found in red meats, fish and eggs but the best way to increase the creatine levels in your body for performance is to supplement with a Creatine powder.

Effects on performance what does the research say?

Muscle Strength & Gain:

Supplementation with creatine monohydrate has consistently shown to promote greater gains in Lean Body Mass and strength.

A study by Cribb et al, (2007), looked at the effects of taking creatine with carbohydrates and protein. This was compared to intakes of just protein and also protein-carbohydrate over a 12 week training program period. The Creatine-Carbohyrate-Protein results showed:

  • Lean Body Mass increased by ~6.9kg
  • Body Fat % decreased by ~2.2%
  • 1RM Squat increased by ~34.7kg
  • 1RM Bench increased by ~22.4kg
  • 1RM Lat Pull-down increased by ~18.7kg

All resulting in significantly greater improvements compared to the other trials. This lead to greater muscle growth, increased muscle fibres and area containing muscle fibres..



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Other Performance Benefits:

  • Enhanced performance repetitive exercise with rest periods such as weight traiing, short distance races – i.e rowing, sprints.

  • Exercise for longer staving off fatigue due to the regeneration of our energy sparkplug ATP from creatine supply.

  • Increased improvements in strength and/or speed are achieved by creatine assisted training (2)
  • Evidence that creatine supplementation is of benefit to endurance exercise is inconsistent BUT is thought that it may enhance muscle glycogen storage when taking with a fast ingestiong carbohydrate source such as maltodextrin

Guidelines on Creatine Supplementation:

Research has shown that muscle creatine levels are increased as a result of supplementation with repeated doses of creatine, which are large enough maximise the transport into the muscle cell (6).

Double your daily water intake from what you consume on daily basis when taking a creatine supplement.

Creatine can be:

  • Dissolved in 250mL of fluid (1)

Co-ingested with 75-100g of carbohydrates (2) This has shown to enhance creatine accumulation and to assist individuals to reach the muscles creatine threshold (1) (2).

  • Taken prior to exercise on days of exercise ro loaded for maximal effects
  • Taken with a protein drink for enhanced protein absorption into the muscle

The two ways to load on Creatine:

  1. Rapid Loading Phase:

Rapid Loading is achieved by consuming 20-25g creatine in split dosages for 5 days with saturation occurring after 2-3 days:

  • Body Weight less than 60kg = 4 Doses of 5g per day
  • Body weight greater than 60kg = 5 Doses of 5g per day


  1. Slow Loading Phase:

A slow loading phase is achieved by a daily dose of 3g over a 28 day period.


Elevated muscle creatine stores are maintained by 2-3g serve of continued daily creatine supplementation.

It takes ~ 4-5 weeks to return to resting creatine concentrations once creatine supplementation has stopped.

Health Risks with Creatine Supplementation:

Renal impairments with the use of creatine have only been seen in those with pre-existing renal dysfunction.

Long term studies have reported NO detrimental effects on renal problems in various athletic populations.


1. Creatine supplementation: recent developements. Greenhaff, P. 1996, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 30, pp. 276-281.

2. Burke, L, et al. Supplements and sports foods. [book auth.] L Burke and V Deakin. Clinical Sports Nutrition. Fourth. North Ryde : McGraw-Hill, 2010, pp. 439-441.

3. Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during supplementation in man. Green, A, et al. 1996, American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, Vol. 271, pp. E812-826.

4. A creatine-protein-carbohydrate supplement enhances responses to resistance training. Cribb, P, Williams, A and Hayes, A. 11, 2007, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Vol. 39, pp. 1960-1968.

5. Contribution of phosphocreatine and aerobic metabolism to energy supply during repeated sprint exercise. Bogdanis, G, et al. 3, 1996, Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 8, pp. 876-884.

6. Elevation of creatine in resting and exercised muscle of normal subjects by creatine supplementation. Harris, R, Soderlund, K and Hultman, E. 1992, Clinical Science , Vol. 83, pp. 367-374.

By Amanda Foubister BSc (HumNutr, ExSptSc)

April 2013

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