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What does Creatine do?

What does Creatine do? What does Creatine Supplementation really do and what research has been done to prove this point? What are the effects of taking Creatine Supplements. Creatine has clinically shown to increase lean muscle size, improve performance in high-intensity exercise, maximize energy levels and strength gains, and speed up recovery.

  • Significantly increase lean muscle size in as little as 2-3 weeks.
  • Improve performance in high-intensity exercise
  • Increase energy levels, and speeds up recovery rates.
  • Boost memory & intelligence levels
  • Accelerates fat loss, while building lean body mass!
  • Increases total work done during aerobic exercise.
  • Increases time to exhaustion
  • Increase training endurance and performance
  • Enhance Performance and Intensity


So now that you know -“What does Creatine do?” is there any research to back this up – yes there is!

Research into the effectiveness of CREATINE – CREATINE is one of the most widely researched supplements with numerous studies into its effectiveness including:

Thorax. 2005 Jul;60(7):531-7.

Skeletal muscle wasting and dysfunction are strong independent predictors of mortality in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). CREATINE nutritional supplementation produces increased muscle mass and exercise performance in health. A controlled study was performed to look for similar effects in 38 patients with COPD. METHODS: Thirty eight patients with COPD (mean (SD) forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1)) 46 (15)% predicted) were randomised to receive placebo (glucose polymer 40.7 g) or CREATINE (CREATINE monohydrate 5.7 g, glucose 35 g) supplements in a double blind trial. After 2 weeks loading (one dose three times daily), patients participated in an outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation programme combined with maintenance (once daily) supplementation. Pulmonary function, body composition, and exercise performance (peripheral muscle strength and endurance, shuttle walking, cycle ergometry) took place at baseline (n = 38), post loading (n = 36), and post rehabilitation (n = 25). RESULTS: No difference was found in whole body exercise performance between the groups: for example, incremental shuttle walk distance mean -23.1 m (95% CI -71.7 to 25.5) post loading and -21.5 m (95% CI -90.6 to 47.7) post rehabilitation. CREATINE increased fat-free mass by 1.09 kg (95% CI 0.43 to 1.74) post loading and 1.62 kg (95% CI 0.47 to 2.77) post rehabilitation. Peripheral muscle performance improved: knee extensor strength 4.2 N.m (95% CI 1.4 to 7.1) and endurance 411.1 J (95% CI 129.9 to 692.4) post loading, knee extensor strength 7.3 N.m (95% CI 0.69 to 13.92) and endurance 854.3 J (95% CI 131.3 to 1577.4) post rehabilitation. CREATINE improved health status between baseline and post rehabilitation (St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire total score -7.7 (95% CI -14.9 to -0.5)). CONCLUSIONS: CREATINE supplementation led to increases in fat-free mass, peripheral muscle strength and endurance, health status, but not exercise capacity. CREATINE may constitute a new ergogenic treatment in COPD.

Rev Neurol (Paris). 2005 Mar;161(3):284-9.

CREATINE deficiency syndromes are a newly described group of inborn errors of metabolism affecting CREATINE metabolism. Three diseases have been described: deficiency of arginine: glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT), deficiency of guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT) and CREATINE transporter defect (CRTR). STATE OF ART: These syndromes are characterized by a depletion of CREATINE/phosphoCREATINE in the brain. Clinically, most of the patients develop a variable mental retardation and a severe speech delay associated with epilepsy, extra-pyramidal syndrome and behavior disturbances. These diseases are often diagnosed during infancy but a few adult cases have been reported recently. Diagnosis is established by measurement of guanidinoacetate and CREATINE in biologic fluids and in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy by the total lack of intra-cerebral CREATINE/phosphoCREATINE demonstrating. GAMT and AGAT deficiencies are treatable by oral CREATINE supplementation whereas patients with CRTR do not respond to the treatment.

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2004 Dec;44(4):411-6.

School of Sports Medicine, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.

This review focuses on the potential side effects caused by oral CREATINE supplementation on gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, renal and liver functions. No strong evidence linking CREATINE supplementation to deterioration of these functions has been found. In fact, most reports on side effects, such as muscle cramping, gastrointestinal symptoms, changes in renal and hepatic laboratory values, remain anecdotal because the case studies do not represent well-controlled trials, so no causal relationship between CREATINE supplementation and these side-effects has yet been established. The only documented side effect is an increase in body mass. Furthermore, a possibly unexpected outcome related to CREATINE monohydrate ingestion is the amount of contaminants present that may be generated during the industrial production. Recently, controlled studies made to integrate the existing knowledge based on anecdotal reports on the side effects of CREATINE have indicated that, in healthy subjects, oral supplementation with CREATINE, even with long-term dosage, may be considered an effective and safe ergogenic aid. However, athletes should be educated as to proper dosing or to take CREATINE under medical supervision.

Eur J Nutr. 2004 Aug 11

Use of CREATINE has become widespread among sportsmen and women, although there are no conclusive evidences concerning possible health risks of long-term CREATINE supplementation. To investigate long-term effects of CREATINE monohydrate supplementation on clinical parameters related to health. Eighteen professional basketball players of the first Spanish Basketball League participated in the present longitudinal study. The subjects were ingesting 5 g CREATINE monohydrate daily during three competition seasons. Blood was collected in the morning after an overnight fast, five times during each of the three official competition seasons. Standard clinical examination was performed for 16 blood chemistries. RESULTS. The plasma concentrations of all clinical parameters did not alter significantly during the analyzed time frames of CREATINE supplementation. All of these parameters were, with the exception of creatinine and CREATINE kinase, within their respective clinical ranges at all time points. CONCLUSION. Our data shows that low-dose supplementation with CREATINE monohydrate did not produce laboratory abnormalities for the majority of the parameters tested.

Neurology. 2004 May 25;62(10):1771-7.

To determine whether CREATINE monohydrate supplementation increases strength and fat-free mass (FFM) in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DD). Thirty boys with DD (50% were taking corticosteroids) completed a double-blind, randomized, cross-over trial with 4 months of CREATINE (about 0.10 g/kg/day), 6-week wash-out, and 4 months of placebo. Measurements were completed of pulmonary function, compound manual muscle and handgrip strength, functional tasks, activity of daily living, body composition, serum CREATINE kinase and creatinine, urinary markers of myofibrillar protein breakdown (3-methylhistidine), DNA oxidative stress , and bone degradation. RESULTS: During the CREATINE treatment phase, there was an increase in handgrip strength in the dominant hand and FFM, with a trend toward a loss of global muscle strength only for the placebo phase, with no improvements in functional tasks or activities of daily living. Corticosteroid use, but not CREATINE treatment, was associated with a lower 8-OH-2-dG/creatinine, and CREATINE monohydrate treatment was associated with a reduction in N-telopeptides. Four months of CREATINE supplementation led to increases in FFM and handgrip strength in the dominant hand and a reduction in a marker of bone breakdown and was well tolerated in children with DD.

Ostojic SM. Sports Medicine Institute, Yugoslavia. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Feb;14(1):95-103.

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of acute CREATINE-monohydrate supplementation on soccer-specific performance in young soccer players. Twenty young male soccer players participated in the study and were matched and allocated to 2 randomly assigned trials: ingesting CREATINE-monohydrate supplement (3 x 10-g doses) or placebo for 7 days. Before and after the supplementation protocol, each subject underwent a series of soccer-specific skill tests: dribble test, sprint-power test, endurance test, and vertical jump test. Specific dribble test times improved significantly in the CREATINE group after supplementation protocol. Sprint-power test times were significantly improved after CREATINE-monohydrate supplementation as well as vertical jump height in CREATINE trial. Furthermore, dribble and power test times, along with vertical jump height, were superior in CREATINE versus placebo trial at post-supplementation performance. There were no changes in specific endurance test results within or between trials (p > .05). There were no between-trial differences in the placebo trial (p > .05). The main finding of the present study indicates that supplementation with CREATINE in young soccer players improved soccer-specific skill performance compared with ingestion of placebo.

Kutz MR, Gunter MJ. Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida 33416, USA.

J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):817-21

Seventeen active males (age 22.9 +/- 4.9 year) participated in a study to examine the effects of CREATINE monohydrate supplementation on total body weight (TBW), percent body fat, body water content, and caloric intake. The TBW was measured in kilograms, percent body fat by hydrostatic weighing, body water content via bioelectrical impedance, and caloric intake by daily food log. Subjects were paired and assigned to a CREATINE or placebo group with a double-blind research design. Supplementation was given for 4 weeks (30 g a day for the initial 2 weeks and 15 g a day for the final 2 weeks). Subjects reported 2 days a week for supervised strength training of the lower extremity. Significant increases before and after the study were found in TBW and body water content for the CREATINE group. No significant changes were found in percent body fat or daily caloric intake in the CREATINE group. No significant changes were noted for the placebo group. These findings support previous research that CREATINE supplementation increases TBW. Mean percent body fat and caloric intake was not affected by CREATINE supplementation. Therefore weight gain in lieu of CREATINE supplementation may in part be due to water retention.

Gill ND, Hall RD. aikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton, New Zealand.

J Strength Cond Res. 2004 May;18(2):272-5.

This study examined the effects of supplementation with either CREATINE monohydrate powder in solution or a widely available CREATINE serum on performance in a repeated maximal sprint cycling test (10 x 6 seconds, 24-second passive rest between sprints). Using a randomized, double-blind, crossover design, 11 competitive male athletes supplemented with CREATINE in 2 forms according to the manufacturer’s recommendations on 2 separate occasions. The 2 supplementation protocols were (a) 20 g.day(-1) x 6 days of CREATINE powder in solution plus a placebo serum (CP) or (b) 5 ml.day(-1) x 6 days of CREATINE serum plus a placebo powder (CS). Subjects completed 2 familiarization trials before the 6-day supplementation period. A repeated maximal sprint cycling test was performed prior to and immediately post supplementation. A 7-week washout period separated the 2 supplementation protocols. Subjects’ total work (9.6%) and peak power (3.4%) in the cycle sprint improved significantly (p < 0.05) after loading with CREATINE monohydrate powder, but there was little change after loading with CREATINE serum. The present data support previous research findings showing an ergogenic effect of CREATINE monohydrate powder supplementation but indicate that supplementation with CREATINE serum does not affect sprint cycling performance. Although the levels of CREATINE in each formulation were not determined, a substantial conversion of CREATINE into creatinine has been reported in many formulations and may explain the present findings.

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Oct ;18 (5):493-508 19033611 (P,S,G,E,B) [Cited?]CREATINE, arginine ?-Ketoglutarate, amino acids, and medium-chain triglycerides and endurance and performance.

Jonathan P Little, Scott C Forbes, Darren G Candow, Stephen M Cornish, Philip D Chilibeck

College of Kinesiology University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

CREATINE (Cr) supplementation increases muscle mass, strength, and power. Arginine a-ketoglutarate (A-AKG) is a precursor for nitric oxide production and has the potential to improve blood flow and nutrient delivery (i.e., Cr) to muscles. This study compared a commercial dietary supplement of Cr, A-AKG, glutamine, taurine, branched-chain amino acids, and medium-chain triglycerides with Cr alone or placebo on exercise performance and body composition. Thirty-five men (~23 yr) were randomized to Cr + A-AKG (0.1 g . kg-1 . d-1 Cr + 0.075 g . kg-1 . d-1 A-AKG, n = 12), Cr (0.1 g . kg-1 . d-1, n = 11), or placebo (1 g . kg-1 . d-1 sucrose, n = 12) for 10 d. Body composition, muscle endurance (bench press), and peak and average power (Wingate tests) were measured before and after supplementation. Bench-press repetitions over 3 sets increased with Cr + A-AKG (30.9 +/- 6.6 +/- 34.9 +/- 8.7 reps; p < .01) and Cr (27.6 +/- 5.9 +/- 31.0 +/- 7.6 reps; p < .01), with no change for placebo (26.8 +/- 5.0 +/- 27.1 +/- 6.3 reps). Peak power significantly increased in Cr + A-AKG (741 +/- 112 +/- 794 +/- 92 W; p < .01), with no changes in Cr (722 +/- 138 +/- 730 +/- 144 W) and placebo (696 +/- 63 +/- 705 +/- 77 W). There were no differences in average power between groups over time. Only the Cr-only group increased total body mass (79.9 +/- 13.0 +/- 81.1 +/- 13.8 kg; p < .01), with no significant changes in lean-tissue or fat mass. These results suggest that Cr alone and in combination with A-AKG improves upper body muscle endurance, and Cr + A-AKG supplementation improves peak power output on repeated Wingate tests.

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Aug ;18 (4):389-98 18708688 (P,S,G,E,B) [Cited?]Effect of CREATINE supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults.

Darren G Burke, Darren G Candow, Philip D Chilibeck, Lauren G Macneil, Brian D Roy, Mark A Tarnopolsky, Tim Ziegenfuss

Dept. of Human Kinetics, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS, Canada.

The purpose of this study was to compare changes in muscle insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) content resulting from resistance-exercise training (RET) and CREATINE supplementation (CR). Male (n = 24) and female (n = 18) participants with minimal resistance-exercise-training experience (=1 year) who were participating in at least 30 min of structured physical activity (i.e., walking, jogging, cycling) 3-5 x/wk volunteered for the study. Participants were randomly assigned in blocks (gender) to supplement with CREATINE (CR: 0.25 g/kg lean-tissue mass for 7 days; 0.06 g/kg lean-tissue mass for 49 days; n = 22, 12 males, 10 female) or isocaloric placebo (PL: n = 20, 12 male, 8 female) and engage in a whole-body RET program for 8 wk. Eighteen participants were classified as vegetarian (lacto-ovo or vegan; CR: 5 male, 5 female; PL: 3 male, 5 female). Muscle biopsies (vastus lateralis) were taken before and after the intervention and analyzed for IGF-I using standard immunohistochemical procedures. Stained muscle cross-sections were examined microscopically and IGF-I content quantified using image-analysis software. Results showed that RET increased intramuscular IGF-I content by 67%, with greater accumulation from CR (+78%) than PL (+54%; p = .06). There were no differences in IGF-I between vegetarians and nonvegetarians. These findings indicate that CREATINE supplementation during resistance-exercise training increases intramuscular IGF-I concentration in healthy men and women, independent of habitual dietary routine.

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2003 Sep ;13 (3):294-302 14669930 (P,S,G,E,B) [Cited?]Effect of alpha-lipoic acid combined with CREATINE monohydrate on human skeletal muscle CREATINE and phosphagen concentration.

Darren G Burke, Philip D Chilibeck, Gianni Parise, Mark A Tarnopolsky, Darren G Candow

Department of Human Kinetics, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada B2G 2W5.

Alpha-lipoic acid has been found to enhance glucose uptake into skeletal muscle in animal models. Studies have also found that the co-ingestion of carbohydrate along with CREATINE increases muscle CREATINE uptake by a process related to insulin-stimulated glucose disposal. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of alpha-lipoic acid on human skeletal muscle CREATINE uptake by directly measuring intramuscular concentrations of CREATINE, phosphoCREATINE, and adenosine triphosphate when CREATINE monohydrate was co-ingested with alpha-lipoic acid. Muscle biopsies were acquired from the vastus lateralis m. of 16 male subjects (18-32 y) before and after the experimental intervention. After the initial biopsy, subjects ingested 20 g x d(-1) of CREATINE monohydrate, 20 g x d(-1) of CREATINE monohydrate + 100 g x d(-1) of sucrose, or 20 g x d(-1) of CREATINE monohydrate + 100 g x d(-1) of sucrose + 1000 mg x d(-1) of alpha-lipoic acid for 5 days. Subjects refrained from exercise and consumed the same balanced diet for 7 days. Body weight increased by 2.1% following the nutritional intervention, with no differences between the groups. There was a significant increase in total CREATINE concentration following CREATINE supplementation, with the group ingesting alpha-lipoic acid showing a significantly greater increase (p < .05) in phosphoCREATINE (87.6 –> 106.2 mmol x kg(-1) dry mass [dm]) and total CREATINE (137.8 –> 156.8 mmol x kg(-1) dm). These findings indicate that co-ingestion of alpha-lipoic acid with CREATINE and a small amount of sucrose can enhance muscle total CREATINE content as compared to the ingestion of CREATINE and sucrose or CREATINE alone.


In a three-year study designed to find out whether CREATINE caused stomach cramps, pulled muscles and associated side effects it was found that CREATINE had no effect on the incidence of injury or cramping in a group of American footballers [2]. Other research shows similar results [3]. In a group of 26 athletes using CREATINE for up to four years, there was no difference in the reported incidence of muscle cramp or injury compared with athletes not using CREATINE. In September 2004 the International Journal of Sports Medicine, also showed that CREATINE side effects are rare [11]. A group of 175 subjects received either 10 grams of CREATINE or placebo daily for an average period of 310 days. Diarrhea and nausea did cause three subjects to stop using CREATINE. But there were no other significant differences between the groups.Truman State University also reported that long-term CREATINE use appears to be safe [7]. Most people aren’t aware that CREATINE has protective effects in heart, muscle and neurological diseases – several months of CREATINE supplementation in men and women with borderline high cholesterol levels reduces very-low-density lipoprotein levels (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) by almost one-third [1]. In the journal Metabolism. Twenty-eight days of CREATINE supplementation and resistance exercise lowered total cholesterol levels to a greater extent than resistance exercise alone [10]. Studies over the short- (five days), medium- (nine weeks) and long-term (up to five years) have yet to demonstrate that CREATINE supplementation has any adverse effects on blood pressure, kidney or liver function in healthy individuals [3, 5, 6, 7, 8]. There are isolated case reports of individuals suffering from kidney problems after using CREATINE [4]. Anyone with existing liver or kidney problems, or those predisposed to such ailments, should seek medical advice before using CREATINE.

1. Earnest, C., Almada, A., & Mitchell, T. (1996). High-performance capillary electrophoresis-pure CREATINE monohydrate reduces blood lipids in men and women. Clinical Science, 91, 113-118

2. Greenwood, M., Kreider, R.B., Melton, C., Rasmussen, C., Lancaster, S., Cantler, E., Milnor, P., & Almada, A. (2003). CREATINE supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 244, 83-88

3. Schilling, B.K., Stone, M.H., Utter, A., Kearney, J.T., Johnson, M., Coglianese, R., Smith, L., O’Bryant, H.S., Fry, A.C., Starks, M., Keith, R., & Stone, M.E. (2001). CREATINE supplementation and health variables: a retrospective study. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33, 183-188

4. Pritchard, N.R., & Kalra, P.A. (1998). Renal dysfunction accompanying oral CREATINE supplements. Lancet, 351, 1252-1253

5. Poortmans, J.R., & Francaux, M. (2000). Adverse effects of CREATINE supplementation: fact or fiction? Sports Medicine, 30, 155-170

6. Kreider, R.B., Melton, C., Rasmussen, C.J., Greenwood, M., Lancaster, S., Cantler, E.C., Milnor, P., & Almada, A.L. (2003). Long-term CREATINE supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 244, 95-104

7. Mayhew, D.L., Mayhew, J.L., & Ware, J.S. (2002). Effects of long-term CREATINE supplementation on liver and kidney functions in American college football players. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 12, 453-460

8. Vannas-Sulonen, K., Sipila, I., Vannas, A., Simell, O., & Rapola, J. (1985). Gyrate atrophy of the chloroid and retina: a five year follow-up of CREATINE supplementation. Opthalmology, 91, 1719-1727

9. Volek, J.S., Duncan, N.D., Mazzetti, S.A., Staron, R.S., Putukian, M., Gomez, A.L, Pearson, D.R, Fink, W.J., & Kraemer WJ. (1999). Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to CREATINE supplementation and heavy resistance training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 31, 1147-1156

10. Arciero, P.J., Hannibal, N.S. 3rd, Nindl, B.C., Gentile, C.L., Hamed, J., & Vukovich, M.D. (2001). Comparison of CREATINE ingestion and resistance training on energy expenditure and limb blood flow. Metabolism, 50, 1429-1434

11. Groeneveld, G.J., Beijer, C., Veldink, J.H., Kalmijn, S., Wokke, J.H.J., & van den Berg, L.H. (2004). Few adverse effects of long-term CREATINE supplementation in a placebo-controlled trial. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 25

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