Maybe you have seen the ads with headlines that scream, “Creatine Monohydrate — Clinically Proven to Increase Size, Strength and Power Fast!” What is this supplement and how can it live up to the advertising claims?
Creatine is an energy-producing substance naturally found in the body. Research studies have indicated that oral ingestion of the supplement creatine monohydrate has a beneficial effect on short-duration, repetitive bursts of intense exercise such as that experienced in rowing, running, cycling, swimming and resistance training. Scientific studies have also shown that short-term creatine supplementation is medically safe in healthy people.
Two issues that have yet to be sufficiently addressed are the medical safety of consuming creatine supplementation over a long period of time and the effects of creatine on performance at lower intensity levels. Other than weight gain, no direct cause-and-effect negative side effects have been documented by researchers; however, adverse reactions, including minor gastrointestinal distress, nausea and muscle cramping, have been attributed to creatine supplementation.
Creatine is available in powder form or capsules as well as in bars, gels, candy and gum. It is also an ingredient in many liquid protein/carbohydrate supplements. If you are considering creatine supplementation, be careful about the product’s purity and also the dosage requirements.
A typical daily dosage is 0.3 grams of creatine per kilogram of body weight, taken as four to five dosages consumed throughout the day for five to six days, and followed by a maintenance dosage. Caffeine has been shown to counteract the positive effect of creatine supplementation on exercise performance.
Most of the creatine supplementation studies done so far have involved young, healthy men. More research needs to be conducted involving women, middle-aged men, the elderly and children. Anyone thinking of taking creatine supplements should consult with a medical professional first.