More about creatine
Hundreds of studies have determined the effect of creatine supplements on anaerobic performance. Only half of them note a positive effect on performance; the rest do not show any real effect. In 1996, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research presented a review of studies that found that creatine supplements increase strength (1 maximum repetition), the number of repetitions before fatigue and the ability to perform repetitive sprints.
The vast majority of studies show that a short intake of creatine increases body weight. Professor Kreider from the University of Memphis, Tennessee, USA, concluded that athletes can gain up to 1.5 kg during the first week of the loading dose and up to 4.5 kg after 6 weeks. Many studies show a significant increase in lean mass and total weight. On average, after a 5-day loading period, the increase in lean mass is 1-3% (approximately 0.8-3 kg) compared to the control group. The subjects gained weight partly due to fluid retention and partly due to muscle anabolism. When the concentration of creatine in a muscle cell increases, water is drawn into it, and the cell increases like a balloon filled with air. As a result, the thickness of the muscle tissue increases by about 15%. The accumulation of water in the muscle tissues stretches the outer shells of the cells. This mechanical action can also trigger the growth process, stimulating protein synthesis.
In addition, creatine can promote the growth of muscle cells by increasing the level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), an extremely important hormone for muscle growth. In a University of Memphis study, athletes who took creatine gained more body weight than athletes who took a placebo.
Creatine can also contribute to faster weight gain, strength and power by improving the quality of strength training.
On the other hand, there is little evidence to support the benefits of creatine for endurance athletes. This is probably due to the fact that the phosphocreatine energy system is less important in aerobic sports. However, one study by Louisiana State University, USA, suggests that creatine supplements can increase the anaerobic threshold, which means they can be effective in aerobic sports.
Forms of Creatine supplements
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine. It consists of a creatine molecule and a water molecule attached to it, and therefore is a very stable chemical compound. It is claimed that other forms of creatine, such as creatine alpha-ketoglutorate, creatine gluconate, creatine methyl ester, tricreatin orotate and creatine citrate, are better absorbed than creatine monohydrate, passing through cell membranes more easily, and thus providing higher absorption by muscles. However, there is no evidence that these alternative forms of creatine provide higher levels of phosphocreatine in muscle cells or provide a higher improvement in performance or increase in muscle mass. All supplements ultimately give the same effect.
Will the strength be lost if you stop taking creatine?
If you stop taking the supplement, the creatine level in the muscles will return to normal levels within 4 weeks. While taking creatine supplements, your own creatine production is suppressed, but this reaction is reversible. Fears that due to taking a supplement, the body will stop the usual production of creatine for a long time are completely unfounded. When you stop taking it, you may notice: some weight loss. There are even casual reports of athletes experiencing a slight decrease in strength and power, although not to the level that was before taking the supplement.
There are opinions that it is better to take creatine in cycles, for example, for 3-5 months, followed by a monthly break.