Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Exercise Performance
Creatine 101: What it is and What's it do
Creatine (methylguanidine acetic acid) is a compound derived from amino acids that is stored in skeletal muscle and organs (95% in muscle/5% organs)(Persky). It is a natural occurring compound that plays a vital role in the storage and transport of cellular energy. The creatine molecule is a fundamental component of high-energy phosphate metabolism required for the buffering, transport and regulation of cellular energy (Turner).
What does this all mean?
This means creatine supplementation allows your body to create more energy in the cells resulting in better exercise performance. Specifically, by allowing your body to create more ATP. ATP is your bodies primary energy carrier and is also known as your bodies energy currency. The faster your ATP regenerates and the more ATP you have available and the harder you can workout.
Creatine helps produce ATP, your cells’ most basic form of energy. This increases energy production during high intensity exercise and leads to improved performance and increased strength and muscle gain.
Is Creatine Safe?
Leading researchers who have studied creatine for several decades also conclude that it is one of the safest supplements on the market (Kreider).
The study examined 52 health markers after participants took creatine supplements for 21 months. It found no adverse effects (Kreider).
The International Society of Sports Nutrition regards creatine as extremely safe, concluding that it is one of the most beneficial sports supplements available (Buford).
Is Creatine Expensive?
Creatine is extremely affordable compared to other supplements on the market. Creatine monohydrate power usually goes for between $8-30 depending on the brand which equates to around 80 servings.
Research has shown Creatine supplementation to be effective in increasing performance for high intensity exercises such as weight lifting, sprinting, swimming, cycling, etc (Buford).
Several hundred studies have been performed to study the effects of Creatine supplementation and around 70% of the studies have shown positive effects observered while the other 30% showed no significant changes. No negative effects have been found. Making Creatine a safe supplementation to take to increase exercise performance (Kreider).
A weight training study found that creatine increased maximum squat and bench press strength (Hoffman). The same study also reported a 20% increase in testosterone levels in the creatine group, compared with only 5% in the group not taking creatine (Hoffman).
The majority of studies show that creatine can improve strength and power, for both athletes and beginners.
Creatine Study 1:
Effect of Oral Creatine Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle
8 male subjects volunteered for the experiment. First a series of electrical shocks were delivered to the participants legs. This protocol was chosed because it has been shown to result in almost total degradation of muscle phosphocreatine stores.
Biopsy samples were taken from the muscles of 8 participants of the study ater 0, 20, 60 and 120second of recovery from intense electrically evoked isometric contraction. Like when you get tasered and your muscles lock up.
10 days later the same procedure was performed on the other leg after the participants ingested 20g creatine. Muscle ATP, phosphocreatine, free Cr and lactate concentrations were measured.
"It has recently been shown that ingestion of 20-30 g of Creatine a day can lead to a > 20% increase in human skeletal muscle total Cr content, of which N 20-30% is in the form of PCr (16). It also appears that muscle Cr uptake is augmented if submaximal exercise is performed during the supplementation period (Greenhaff)."
Further evidence shows that Creatine ingestion can significantly increase the amount of work that can be performed during repeated bouts of maximal exercise. It was postulated that the ergogenic effect of Creatine ingestion may be attributable to an increased muscle Cr content, accelerating phosphocreatine resynthesis between exercise bouts (Greenhaff)."
Creatine Study 2:
Creatine Ingestion Favorably Affects Performance and Muscle metabolism During Maximal Exercise in Humans
9 Male subjects performed 2 bouts of 30sec maximal isokinetic cycling before and after ingestion of 20 g creatine monohydrate for 5 days. (Casey).
Total work production during bouts 1 and 2 increased by approx. 4% and the cumulative increases in both peak and total work production. The increased ability to work was positively coorelated to increase in muscle mass (Casey).
The improvements in performance were mediated via improved ATP resynthesis as a consequence of increased phosphocreatine availability in type II fibers. (Casey).
Is Creatine Safe - Study 3:
Long-term creatine supplementation does notsignificantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes
The study examines the effects of long term creatine supplementation on 69-item panel of serum, whole blood, urinary markers of clinical health.
Over a 21 month period 98 Division IA college football players were administered creatine or a placebo following training sessions. Subjects taking the creatine were given 15.75g/day for 5 day loading period and then 5g/day there after. Fasting blood and 24-h urine samples were collected on 0,1,1.5,4,6,10,12,17 anf 21 months of training and supplementation. A comprehensive quantitative clinical chemistry panel was determined on serum, whole blood samples including metabolic markers, muscle and liver enzymes, electrolytes, lipid profiles, hematological markers and lymphocytes (Kreider).
Univariate analysis revealed no clinically significant interactions among markers. Additionally no apparent differences were observed among the 2 groups. Study found creatine supplementation does not adversely effect markers for health status (Kreider).
Persky, A M, and G A Brazeau. “Clinical Pharmacology of the Dietary Supplement Creatine Monohydrate.”Pharmacological Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2001, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11356982.
Turner, Clare E., and Nicholas Gant. “The Biochemistry of Creatine.”Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Academic Press, 10 Jan. 2014, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124016880000070.
Greenhaff, P.L and K Bodin. "Effect of Oral Creatine Supplmentation on Skeletal Muscle Phosphocreatine Resynthesis." Physiology.org, 01 May 1994, https://journals.physiology.org/doi/pdf/10.1152/ajpendo.1994.266.5.E725
Kreider, R.B. "Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Performance and Training Adaptations." 24 Feb 2003, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12701815
Buford Thomas. "International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Creatine Supplementation and Exercise." nih.gov. 30 August 2007,
Hoffman, J. "Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes." Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metlab. 16 August 2006. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17136944
Mawer, Rudy. "Creatine Exercise Performance, Strength and Power." Healthline. 5 Feb 2020. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/creatine-exercise-performance#strength-and-power
Kreider R.B. "Long term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clincal markers of health in athletes." US National Library of Medicine. Feb 2003. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12701816
Bufford TW. "International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise." US National Library of Medicine. Aug 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17908288