Position Stand: Creatine Monohydrate and Performance
The following seven points related to the use of creatine monohydrate as a nutritional supplement constitute the Position Statement of Lifters League
- Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement legally available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training
- Creatine monohydrate supplementation is not only safe, but possibly beneficial in regard to preventing injury and/or management of select medical conditions when taken within recommended guidelines.
- There is no scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects on otherwise healthy individuals.
- At present, creatine monohydrate is the most extensively studied and clinically effective form of creatine for use in nutritional supplements in terms of muscle uptake and ability to increase high-intensity exercise capacity.
- The addition of carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein to a creatine supplement appears to increase muscular retention of creatine, although the effect on performance measures may not be greater than using creatine monohydrate alone.
- The quickest method of increasing muscle creatine stores appears to be to consume ~0.3 grams/kg/day of creatine monohydrate for at least 3 days followed by 3–5 g/d thereafter to maintain elevated stores. Ingesting smaller amounts of creatine monohydrate (e.g., 2–3 g/d) will increase muscle creatine stores over a 3–4 week period, however, the performance effects of this method of supplementation are less supported.
- Creatine monohydrate has been reported to have a number of potentially beneficial uses in several clinical populations, and further research is warranted in these areas.
Six Potential Ergogenic Benefits of Creatine Supplementation on performance include:
- Increased muscle mass and strength
- Increased single and repetitive sprint performance
- Enhanced glycogen synthesis
- Increased work capacity
- Enhanced recovery
- Greater training tolerance
Six Myths surrounding Creatine Supplementation :
The use of creatine as a sports supplement has been surrounded by both controversy and fallacy since it gained widespread popularity in the early 1990s. Anecdotal and media reports have often claimed that creatine usage is a dangerous and unnecessary practice; often linking creatine use to anabolic steroid abuse. Many athletes and experts in the field have reported that creatine supplementation is not only beneficial for athletic performance and various medical conditions but is also clinically safe. Although creatine has recently been accepted as a safe and useful ergogenic aid, several MYTHS have been purported about creatine supplementation which includes:
- All weight gained during supplementation is due to water retention.
- Creatine supplementation causes renal distress.
- Creatine supplementation causes cramping, dehydration, and/or altered electrolyte status.
- The long-term effects of creatine supplementation are completely unknown.
- Newer creatine formulations are more beneficial than creatine monohydrate (CM) and cause fewer side effects.
- It’s unethical and/or illegal to use creatine supplements.
While these myths have been refuted through scientific investigation, the general public is still primarily exposed to the mass media which may or may not have accurate information. Due to this confounding information, combined with the fact that creatine has become one of the most popular nutritional supplements on the market, it is important to examine the primary literature on supplemental creatine ingestion in humans.
What is the Best Form of Creatine to Take?
Nearly all studies on creatine supplementation have evaluated pharmacological grade creatine monohydrate in powder form or have used oral or intravenous PCr formulations (not practical and more expensive form). However, because creatine has become a popular supplement, there are a number of different forms on the market. Claims have been made however, no data indicate that any of these forms of creatine increases creatine uptake to the muscle better than CM. In fact, a recent study indicates that liquid creatine has no effect on muscle creatine stores. There are three primary sources for creatine (Germany, USA, and China) and studies showed the best raw sources of CM seems to be from Germany Creapure and has is the trusted source for Lifters League.
It is the position of Lifters League that the use of creatine as a nutritional supplement is safe, effective, and ethical. Despite lingering myths concerning creatine supplementation in conjunction with exercise, CM remains one of the most extensively studied, as well as effective, nutritional aids available to athletes. Hundreds of studies have shown the effectiveness of CM supplementation in improving anaerobic capacity, strength, and lean body mass in conjunction with training. In addition, CM has repeatedly been reported to be safe, as well as possibly beneficial in preventing injury. Finally, the future of creatine research looks bright in regard to the areas of transport mechanisms, improved muscle retention, as well as treatment of numerous clinical maladies via supplementation.
Recommended Loading Protocols
The supplementation protocol most often described in the literature is referred to as the “loading” protocol. This protocol is characterized by ingesting approximately 0.3 grams/kg/day of CM for 5 – 7 days (e.g., ≃5 grams taken four times per day) and 3–5 grams/day thereafter. Research has shown a 10–40% increase in muscle creatine and PCr stores using this protocol. Additional research has reported that the loading protocol may only need to be 2–3 days in length to be beneficial, particularly if the ingestion coincides with protein and/or carbohydrate. Furthermore, supplementing with 0.25 grams/kg-fat free mass/day of CM may be an alternative dosage sufficient to increase muscle creatine stores.
Lifters League position on loading is to use no loading phase. A few studies have reported protocols with no loading period to be sufficient for increasing muscle creatine (3 g/d for 28 days) as well as muscle size and strength (6 g/d for 12 weeks). Compared to loading and no loading creatine saturation tend to happen at the same time about 4 weeks after the first dose. A lot of forums and studies suggest cycling but we disagree with this method. We suggest not to overthink the process as the variable will have minimal effects on your progress and regardless of the decision you make on a protocol we believe it’ll make no to negligible difference;
- Ignore loading phase
- No need to cycle.
- Follow one of the 2 protocols based on connivance and compliancy (more doesn’t mean better, consistence matters most);
- Take pre or post-training
- Take either every morning or night.
A study has suggested the doses above 1g released an enzyme signaling the body to release excess creatine. We suggest ignoring this as the loss will be minimal and far more convenient to take a single dose. Consistency and compliance is more important to progress so don’t overthink this.
Revision 3 – 17th November 2017