Creatine - Supplements for Better Performance

Jul 14, 2021

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

As vaccination numbers skyrocket and COVID-19 cases drop Manitoba is opening back up again. It is awesome, and we all cannot wait for more openings. I like many others was excited to see gyms and fitness centers re-open. Personally, I enjoy going to the gym because it works for my schedule and lifestyle. However, workouts are not only for the gym. A workout for others is a swim at the pool, biking at North Gate or maybe even fixing fences out in the pasture. No matter the activity, a workout is great for your confidence, mental health, and overall fitness.

The supplement world tries to get you to your goals faster and there are many products available online and in stores promising to help you build muscle, lose weight, and get that beach body. Many supplement brands go a step further, promising products to help with a bigger pump, faster race, better results, and faster recovery. The truth is many supplements lack evidence of effectiveness or the degree of effectiveness. It is not saying these do not work, it is just saying we do not know how effective they are in certain situations. While most of the time there is effectiveness, these products seem to overpromise and under deliver. The is no substitute for hard work and proper diet. Often, we assume the supplement will do the work, instead of us.

However, one of the cheapest and most widely available supplements has shown to be both safe and effective. Creatine is a substance found naturally in muscle cells. The body produces it using two amino acids glycine and arginine and stores in as phosphocreatine. Over 90% is in the muscle with the remaining in vital organs. The creatine stores in your body depend on meat intake, exercise, muscle mass and hormone levels like testosterone. Creatine functions to produce ATP and with more ATP in your body it performs better. ATP or adenosine triphosphate is a nucleotide used in cells as a tool to make energy. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. Every cell in your body uses ATP for energy. Normally ATP depletes after about 5-10 seconds of high-intensity activity, but with more ATP performance can be maintained a few seconds longer. In addition, creatine also works at the cellular level to increase strength, recovery, and muscle mass.

Its fine to say creatine works, but the million-dollar question is how well it works. Some studies on creatine show weightlifting performance is increased 10-15%. A one rep bench press maximum is reported to increase by 43%. Even bike sprinters in studies of at least 28 days of use reported around the 15% improvement rate on results. Other studies look at muscle maintenance during repeated over training and creatine appears to have a positive effect.

Creatine can also be used in treatment of certain medical conditions, like metabolic disorders, to help boost cellular performance and body function. It is possible creatine may reduce symptoms and slow the progression of some neurological diseases, although more human research is required.

One of the issues with creatine is you must use it regularly to keep your stores built up. Its use does not have a lasting effect. Another disadvantage to using creatine is it can cause some water retention and slight weight gain because of this. While it is quite safe, you should always talk to your doctor before using it if you have any liver or kidney issues or any other ailments.

On a personal note, I have tried creatine now and again but not religiously. While I do feel as though it may be improved my performance and some recovery time, especially when I pushed myself a little hard than usual. I have not yet stuck with it long enough to be sold completely on the product. Part of this has been due to the gym being closed for an extended period. Perhaps now after doing some research and having a gym to go to I will give it a better go. Please also remember, I am not a fitness trainer or a high-performance athlete, so you may want to run creatine intake by your trainer and get their opinion. If you want to give creatine a try, it is sold at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy as well as any other place you can buy supplements. We sell an unflavored powdered version, which can be mixed with any type of beverage. Most creatine dosing labels say to use a loading dose of 5g three to 4 times a day for up to a week. Then it can be continued at 5g once daily. At the end of the day, you still must go put in the work. That is on you.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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