What Are the Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Performance?

Article excerpt

As athletes continually try to increase their performance, they often turn to ergogenic aids. Nutritional supplementation has long been a method for trying to improve performance. Excessive amounts of money are spent each year on products that claim to enhance performance. It almost seems that as athletes and coaches experiment with the latest nutritional supplements, sports scientists are left trying to produce research to support or refute the claims made by the proponents of such aids. Recently, the use of creatine monohydrate supplementation to improve performance has become widespread. There are still many questions with regard to the effects of creatine supplementation. Volek and Kraemer (1996) have discussed the theoretical basis for creatine supplementation and reviewed what is known about its effects on human performance.

Theoretically, creatine supplementation for the ATP-CP system has been compared to carbohydrate loading for the aerobic energy system. Creatine plays an integral part in energy metabolism during short-duration, high-intensity work, as a substrate in the form of phosphocreatine. As the authors of this review summarize, research has shown that supplementation of 20-30 g of creatine monohydrate per day for 6 days may increase both plasma and intra-muscular levels of creatine, and phosphocreatine as much as 40 percent. The greatest increases, however, have been noted in the subjects with the lowest initial baseline levels of creatine. This may indicate that the effects of creatine supplementation may be limited in those subjects who have initially higher intramuscular creatine levels. Creatine monohydrate supplementation may increase phosphocreatine resynthesis and therefore reduce recovery time so that more anaerobic work may be performed in a shorter amount of time. Finally, increases in maximal strength and total work have been shown in creatine monohydrate supplemented subjects. The only reported side effect related to creatine monohydrate supplementation, to date, appears to be an increase in total body mass. It is unknown exactly in what form this increase occurs. …