Unveiling The Science Behind Creatine – Part 1

Unveiling The Science Behind Creatine – Part 1


The supplement industry grows rapidly as new and advanced products repeatedly claim to boost your exercise performance. One product that is widely advertised by supplement shops is creatine monohydrate.

Creatine is a highly researched supplement, however, the science behind creatine is not widely advertised. Creatine itself is a naturally occurring amino acid that can be found in natural foods such as meat (especially beef) and fish (especially salmon and tuna) and is also made by the human body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas; It is then converted into phosphocreatine which is then converted into ATP, a major source of where our body gets energy other than glucose (Ehrlich, 2014).

The Question: If creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid in our body, why do we need to take it as a supplement?

The Process: The article International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise states that when we perform high-intensity exercises, our phosphocreatine stores become depleted due to our body converting it into ATP, which is then used by our muscles. When a creatine supplement is taken, the liver, pancreas, and kidney have more creatine to break down into phosphocreatine; this results in an increase in a number of phosphocreatine molecules to convert into energy (Buford et al. 2007).

The Effects: Studies show that creatine monohydrate is the most effective nutritional supplement in terms of providing lean body mass and anaerobic capacity (more ATP/more energy). In one study, Creatine supplementation enhances muscular performance during high-intensity resistance exercise, fourteen active men were divided into two groups: a creatine group and a placebo group. Both groups performed a heavy load to failure bench press; 5 sets to failure based on each subject’s predetermined 10 repetition maximum. Subjects also performed a jump squat exercise, which consisted of 5 sets of 10 repetitions using 30% of each subject’s 1-repetition maximum squat. The creatine group ingested 25g of creatine monohydrate per day & the placebo group ingested an equivalent amount of placebo (Buford et al. 2007).

The Results: The subjects were assessed by diet, body mass, skinfold thickness, pre-exercise and 5-minute post-exercise lactate concentrations, and peak power output for the bench press and jump squat. Creatine supplementation resulted in a significant improvement in peak power output during all 5 sets of jump squats and a significant improvement in repetitions during all bench presses and jump squats. Furthermore, a significant increase in body mass of 1.4kg was observed after creatine ingestion. In this study, one week of creatine supplementation (25g/day) enhanced muscular performance during repeated sets to a heavy load to failure bench press and jump squat exercise (Volek et al. 1997).

While this is just one study’s conclusion, the article International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation states that nearly 70% of these studies (creatine’s effect on performance) have reported a significant improvement in exercise capacity, while the others have generally reported non-significant gains in performance” (Buford et al. 2007).

Stay tuned for my next post where I will dive into further studies of creatine monohydrate.

Works Cited:

Buford, Thomas W et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Creatine Supplementation and Exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 4 (2007): 6. PMC. Web. 19 June 2017.

“Creatine.” University of Maryland Medical Center. Ed. Steven D. Ehrlich. A.D.A.M, 26 June 2014. Web


1justinprevialJustin McPhail – Prevail Intern

B.S. Candidate (Kinesiology) – Westmont College

Justin was born in Huntington Beach, California and moved to Long Valley, New Jersey when he was eight years old. Justin will graduate with a B.S in Kinesiology in May 2018. Justin currently plays baseball Westmont College under head Coach Robert Ruiz.

Justin became interested in Kinesiology because of his involvement in baseball. He loves the idea of working with athletes and helping them to become faster and stronger and reach their full potential.

Justin plans to get his CSCS and attend graduate school after Westmont.

“Unveiling the Science Behind Creatine – Part 1” —> Volek, Jeff S., William J. Kraemer, Jill A. Bush, Mark Boetes, Thomas     Incledon, Kristine L. Clark, and James M. Lynch. “Creatine Supplementation Enhances Muscular Performance During High-Intensity Resistance Exercise.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 97.7 (1997): 765-70. Web.

The goals of healthy aging and the compression of morbidity

To many, the focus of healthy aging is to live as long as possible. We have seen the life expectancy in the United States increased from 47 years to 79 years over the last 150 years, but the maximum lifespan (oldest age people are capable of living to) has only increased marginally during the same period. There appears to be an age between 70 and 100 years old where our bodies are naturally no longer able to keep up with the challenges of everyday life and as a result, shut down (Fries, 2005). Therefore, the primary goal of healthy aging is to live through our physiologically set lifespan with the highest quality of life.

The compression of morbidity hypothesis was developed by James F. Fries of Stanford University School of Medicine and proposes that living an active lifestyle with good nutrition and practicing abstinence from dangerous habits such as smoking delays the onset of disability until the last years of life (Fries, 2005). For example, a sedentary and active senior may both live to 85 years old, but the sedentary senior may become disabled at age 75, while the active senior may not reach the same level of disability until age 84. The active senior will be able to maintain their lifestyle of choice for an additional 9 years.

A 21 year-long study following a group of runners with an average starting age of 58 years old found that the runners developed a disability corresponding to challenges performing one activity of daily living, such as walking, 8.6 years later than the control group (Chakravarty et al. 2008). The differences between groups diverged increasingly at higher levels of disability.

Additionally, the runners did not experience more osteoarthritis and had fewer knee and hip replacements than controls (Chakravarty et al. 2008; Chakravarty et al. 2008).

Habits like exercise, healthy nutrition, and not smoking are important because the occurrence of a significant medical event late in life often leads to disability. Seniors should exercise as protection against injuries that could threaten their self-sufficiency. It is never too early or too late for anyone to start.

Seniors can benefit from the cardiovascular components of aerobic exercises (e.g. hiking) and the improvements in strength and stability that come from intelligently programmed weight training. In the runner study, the investigators note that the runners should be viewed as multidisciplinary athletes because many of them gave up running for other training modalities during the study (Chakravarty et al. 2008). Fries suggests that the most important thing is to find an activity you like and stay as active as possible (Fell, 2015).

Understanding the concepts behind the compression of morbidity can lengthen the time seniors can live full, independent lives.

Further Reading:

Chicago Tribune Article

Overview of Compression of Morbidity

Review of research

Influence of lifestyle risk factors on compression of morbidity

123prevailTyler Paras – Prevail Intern

B.S. – Cellular Molecular Biology (Westmont)

Matriculating M.D. Candidate – University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Tyler was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and began training at Prevail in October 2016. He attended Westmont College and will be attending medical school this fall. While at Westmont he graduated Summa Cum Laude, led a student-run homeless outreach program, and volunteered with medical clinics in Mexico and Bolivia.

After Tyler’s mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), he became interested in the cellular mechanisms behind the disease. He conducted his Major Honors project at Westmont on the role of the microbiome in inflammatory arthritis and conducted summers of research at Harvard Medical School studying the role of macrophages in RA. Including his critical care clinical research at Cottage Hospital, his research has resulted in seven presentations, three at national medical conferences.

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