Creatine Supplementation: What do the Research Findings Show?

For this week’s article, we will look at a Creatine Supplementation review by Antonio et al. (2021) from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Creatine itself is an endogenously formed compound created by reactions involving arginine, glycine and methionine. This organic compound is involved in supplying energy for muscular contraction and is popular amongst athletes. It can also be consumed exogenously from meat, fish and as a dietary supplement normally in the form of a white powder or tablet known as creatine monohydrate. The researchers focused on 12 main questions:

  1. Does creatine lead to water retention?
  2. Is creatine an anabolic steroid?
  3. Does creatine cause kidney damage/renal dysfunction?
  4. Does creatine cause hair loss/baldness?
  5. Does creatine lead to dehydration and muscle cramping?
  6. Is creatine harmful for children and adolescents?
  7. Does creatine increase fat mass?
  8. Is a creatine loading phase required?
  9. Is creatine beneficial for older adults?
  10. Is creatine only useful for resistance/power type activities?
  11. Is creatine only effective for males?
  12. Are other forms of creatine similar or superior to monohydrate and is creatine stable in solutions/beverages?

As you can see, there may be a few seemingly funny/strange questions in there, such as: ‘is creatine a steroid?’ And: ‘is it only effective for males?’ However, these are FAQs that you will be regularly aced with when working in nutrition. It is important to know the ins and outs of creatine and other supplements if you hope to be successful in nutrition. Especially as it is one of the few supplements to have research backing up its advantages. 

Those benefits include increased muscle performance and muscle accretion. Muscle accretion is what occurs when the rate of muscle protein synthesis is actually higher than the rate of muscle protein breakdown. Therefore, athletes and recreational users of creatine will ingest the compound to improve their strength performance and recovery.

The journal entry from Antonio et al. (2021) goes into detail on elements such as the loading phase, safety, appropriate age ranges and of course optimal approaches to take with creatine, specifically creatine monohydrate.

You can learn more about supplements and their application in our Supplements module in our Applied Nutrition course. We also discuss this in both of our Exercise Nutrition modules.

You’ll find the full review on Creatine Supplementation here: https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w

Josh

Joshua Norrie, MSc ANutr