According to the Mayo Clinic, creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular supplements taken among athletes. It occurs naturally in the body, and helps muscles to release energy. (1) Surprisingly, just as in the 90s, only speculation exists as to whether high doses of creatine can potentially cause damage to the kidneys or liver. This stems from the fact that both are used to eliminate excess amounts not utilized by the body. As with the use of any supplement, side effects may occur, including cramping of the stomach, muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and weight gain resulting from either water retention – or actual gains in muscle mass. (2)
Based on the literature reviewed, creatine is most effective when properly “pre-loaded,” and has diminished effects after 30 seconds of intense exercise. (3) Another study performed on cyclists also showed that creatine supplementation had no effect on sprinting ability at the end of a long road race. (4)
This leads me to believe that creatine supplementation will mainly benefit those that perform short, intense bouts of exercise, such as bodybuilders, powerlifters, sprinters that run the 100m dash, and even swimmers that race the 50m or 100m sprint. Any athlete that needs to exploit their maximal potential within 30 seconds may benefit from supplementation. Triathletes may benefit from supplementation, simply because the first part of the race (when racing competitively) requires a sprint to establish position for long swim ahead. These starts are typically fast, and furious! To learn more about creatine supplementation, and see what is available today, I recommend jumping over to bodybuilding.com’s Creatine Guide.
- Unknown (January 10, 2011) Creatine: Medline Plus Supplements. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/873.html
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (December 23rd, 2010) Performance Enhancing Drugs: Know the Risks. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/performance-enhancing-drugs/HQ01105
- Haventidus, K., Et. al, (September 2003) The Use of Various Creatine Regimes on Sprint Cycling. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2003) 2, 88-97.
- Hickner, RC., Et.al, (2010) Effect of 28 Days of Creatine Ingestion on Musclemetabolism and Performance of a Simulated Road Race. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2010) Vol.7, p26.