Does Creatine Work?

Creatine Monohydrate definitely “works.”  If I had to chose just one bodybuilding supplement, this would be it.  Research has proven time and again that it actually helps most of the people who use it.  Over 500 studies have been done, and most (about 70%) concluded this supplement to be effective in terms of improving performance.

. . . creatine supplementation during training has been reported to promote significantly greater gains in strength, fat free mass, and performance primarily of high intensity exercise tasks. Although not all studies report significant results, the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that creatine supplementation appears to be a generally effective nutritional ergogenic aid for a variety of exercise tasks in a number of athletic and clinical populations.1

But I don’t believe in any of the “buffered” creatine formulas, such as creatine ethyl ester and kre-alkalyn.  Contrary to what some claim, creatine monohydrate does not rapidly degrade during digestion, and 99% of what you ingest actually makes it to the muscle tissue.  Furthermore, there is not really any solid evidence that “novel” forms of creatine are safer or any more effective than plain ‘ole monohydrate.2

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of creatine has been manipulated by some unethical supplement companies–something I learned from Pilon’s book (see: How Much Protein do You Need to Build Muscle).  Here’s how the scam works:

1. A supplement manufacturer will develop a “cutting” edge product with a bunch of random (worthless) ingredients.

2.  The before-mentioned supplement will have one ingredient that does work: creatine monohydrate.

3.  Studies on this new supplement will yield impressive results in the subjects who use it (as I’ve demonstrated, creatine monohydrate usually produces significant, measurable improvements).

4.  People are fooled into buying the over-priced supplement when they would have done just as well to buy creatine alone.

So check the ingredients of any new supplement–you may find there’s nothing really new about the effective ingredient.

Conclusion:
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Creatine Monohydrate is on my “short list” of useful, cost-effective supplements.  I would recommend bodybuilding.com’s brand, but any brand with the creapure mark will do.  Some prefer to load it, but I usually just take 3-5 grams a day.

Here’s one more very important tip--I’d recommend you use a micronized creatine and mix it with warm water until completely dissolved.  You body can’t absorb this supplement if is undissolved, and undissolved creatine is likely to cause gastric problems (upset stomach, etc).

References:

1. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations.

2. Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine

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