The Issue: My biggest problem with creatine has been the barrage of supplements claiming to ‘boost exercise performance.’ It is hard for me to decide which products I should purchase and which I should avoid. Of course, when going to your local Vitamin Shop/GNC, the employees will urge you to buy the latest and greatest; they want you to spend money. Before incorporating a new addition into one’s nutritional plan, one must explore both the positives and negatives of the suggested supplement. Does creatine really help? What harm can it do? Do I need it?
Research Perspectives: Allegations against creatine have been made with complaints of muscle cramps and gastrointestinal ailments. A problem with these complaints is a lack of evidence and the fact that the issues experienced are common symptoms that occur in the general population, not just with those who consume creatine. Studies show no change in functionality of the liver & kidneys in healthy subjects supplemented with creatine compared to those without supplementation (Kim et al. 2011).
A superfluous amount of creatine (i.e. over the recommended amount) may cause those who have pre-existing renal disease or those at risk for renal dysfunction to be at a higher risk of experiencing related issues (Kim et al. 2011). Controlled creatine intake is imperative along with proper knowledge of potential high-risk factors to one’s health and well-being. Vandenberghe et al (1997) states that long-term creatine intake is beneficial to performance during resistance training. Young women (n=19) were tested for 10 weeks and performed resistance training for 3hrs a week. The women were divided into two groups, a placebo group and creatine group. After 10 weeks of training an intake of 20g/day increased phosphocreatine concentration by 6%. Furthermore, Muscle PCr (Phosphocreatine) and strength, intermittent exercise capacity, and fat-free mass subsequently remained at a higher level in the creatine group. This study was able to conclude that long-term creatine supplementation enhances the progress of muscle strength during resistance training in sedentary females. (Vandenberghe et al, 1997).
My Personal Experience: Just as doctors recommend we need more vitamin C or higher calcium intake, it can be suggested that if you want to become stronger, an increase in creatine consumption will help you reach your goals. As a collegiate baseball player, I want to be the best athlete I can become. As such, I lift 4-5 days a week. Each day I strive to exceed my performance from the prior one, paying attention to proper form and avoiding unnecessary training gaps. Although progress begins and grows in the gym, proper supplementation is also essential to improving athletic performance. I have been using creatine before & after each workout and I personally have noticed improvements in my performance. I have shown improvement in my bench press, back & front squat, and RDL since taking creatine versus before. I have seen significant improvement in my bench press, where I was stuck at 205lbs for a long while; I have now reached 220lbs two months after I began incorporating creatine.
Conclusion on Creatine: Despite my positive experience with creatine, I still hesitate to quickly agree with the famous claim of “boosting exercise performance.” It may contribute, but its contribution is towards the progress of muscle strength. Upon looking at research, I have concluded that I am not an individual at-risk from creatine intake; however, I am glad that I am educated and aware of which individuals should refrain from this supplement. As my plans included a CSCS certification, I find it more important than ever to be aware of not only what I put into my own body, but also what I recommend that others put into theirs. Incorporating supplements into one’s training can help improve performance, but only with proper product knowledge and adherence to a training program that offers both safety and growth opportunity. I will continue to include creatine in my training. Should I choose to venture out and consider new additions into my plan, I will be sure to know the science behind the product and its potential effects on my health and well-being.
Kim, Hyo Jeong, Chang Keun Kim, A. Carpentier, and Jacques R. Poortmans. “Studies on the Safety of Creatine Supplementation.” Amino Acids 40.5 (2011): 1409-418. Web.
Vandenberghe, K et al. “Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training”. Journal of Applied Physiology Vol. 83. 1997.
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.