I have had a few friends ask me recently about supplementation, and what I know is beneficial. Creatine, I believe, is one of the best supplements you can take (although I haven’t taken it for a while, solely due to the fact that I just haven’t gotten around to ordering some). Here’s why I believe it’s good, and some things to think about if you are considering taking it. Firstly, although there’s no significant proof, it is believed that creatine is the most beneficial if you cycle it. This way, your body is shocked with the supplement, increases creatine utilization, and optimizes ATP breakdown. You also need to make sure you have a couple weeks without the creatine so your body is triggered to continually produce its own creatine sources.
How to Cycle:
- Loading Phase- 20-25g/day for 5-7 days
- Maintenance Phase- 5g/day for 3-4 weeks
- Wash-Out Phase- 2 weeks with no supplementation of Creatine
- Another loading phase, and continue steps 1-3
- Enhance body’s ability to achieve high-intensity work (perfect for those sprint sessions) (The American College Of Sports Medicine, 2000)
- Improve ATP energy breakdown (Katz & Westerblad, 2014).
- ATP are packets of energy that your body uses in order to function…so this is a very, very good quality of creatine
- Improves anaerobic capacity (again, bettering your sprint sessions, allowing you to push harder during your short-term, all-out sprints)
- Improves glucose tolerance, allowing for more available energy during your endurance sessions
- Improve bone healing- very important for endurance runners to avoid stress fractures
- Improve muscle mass and muscle status (I know a lot of triathletes want to be lean, but it’s also good to have muscle bulk to increase power output)
- Increases muscle strength and cross-sectional area
- Increases powerà what you need during your final sprint to the finish line; maximal velocity and force production
- Decreases time to fatigueà more reps, more sets, or longer runs; you choose
- Breaks you out of a plateau
- Decrease in blood lactate post-exercise compared to non-creatine subjects (Izquierdo et al.)
- Requires a loading phase
- Weight gain due to water retention in the intramuscular space
- You will only notice the gains if you actually workout and push through your threshold. Simple as that!
- Many different types (i.e. Monohydrate, phosphate, micronized, citrate, etc.)
- Which one you take is very individually dependent and you should choose according to your goals, tolerance, etc. I won’t get into this right now, but the information is easily accessible online (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drobson181.htm)
- Enhances recovery (decreases time to full recovery)
- Unfortunately, according to a meta-analysis by Rawson, Conti, & Miles (2007) on contrary to previously believed methodologies, creatine doesn’t help decrease time of musculoskeletal recovery
Katz, A., & Westerblad, H. (2014). Regulation of glycogen breakdown and its consequences for skeletal muscle function after training. Mammalian Genome, 25(9-10), 464-472.
Mikel Izquierdo, Javier Iban˜ Ez, Juan J. Gonza´ Lez-Badillo, And Esteban M. Gorostiaga. Effects of creatine supplementation on muscle power, endurance, and sprint performance.
|Rawson, E. S., Conti, M. P., & Miles, M. P. (2007). Creatine supplementation does not reduce muscle damage or enhance recovery from resistance exercise. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 21(4), 1208-1213.|
THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SPORTS MEDICINE. (2000). The physiological and health effects of oral creatine supplementation. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 32:706–717