Creatine Revisited: New Findings on the World's Most Popular Supplement

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
June 29th, 2015
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Supplements
15.6K Reads
Creatine Revisited: New Findings on the World's Most Popular Supplement
Creatine has been touted as one of the most essential muscle-building supplements ever, but what does the newest research have to say about it?

The effects of creatine are nothing new. As one of the most researched supplements on the market, it should be a part of any serious lifters supplement stack.

Not only has it been unofficially proven to work by bros at your local gym, it is also a clinical superstar producing real, substantial results when it comes to muscle mass and strength gains.

Let’s look at not only the tried and true benefits of creatine, but also what new information has been found about this super strength building supplement.

What else does it have to offer your blood, sweat and tears in the gym and how can you benefit?

Creatine: A Brief Overview

Creatine is a supplement used by many athletes and bodybuilders to help increase performance of high intensity training. Made of 3 amino acids (methionine, arginine, and glycine), creatine helps replenish our ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) stores once they have been depleted. This, in turn, allows us to train harder and longer and recover quicker between bouts of exercise.

It increases strength levels, muscle mass and even aids in recovery between sets of exercises. As a natural substance found in our muscle cells it is also made by the liver and we also ingest it from our diet.

Some dietary sources include fish and red meat; however, supplementing is the easiest and most convenient way to achieve optimal levels since food contains very little. For example, a half-pound of meat can contain only 1 gram of creatine only. So, supplementing is needed to reap the full benefit.

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Creatine Dosages

There are two schools of thought when it comes to dosing. The traditionalists out there stress that a loading phase needs to precede a maintenance phase. This loading phase can contain up to 20 grams of creatine powder per day divided into four 5 gram doses. One advantage of this method is a sudden onset of muscle fullness and a rather quick weight gain.

The other school of thought is to simply start with a maintenance dose of 3 to 5 grams, twice daily – once prior to training and once again post training. Which is superior? Many studies have pointed that the loading phase is unnecessary in longitudinal trials. In other words, the same end results were recorded with both protocols.

Creatine Monohydrate

Another factor to consider is the type of creatine to take. With so many forms flooding the market (citrate, ethyl ester, nitrate, malate and pyruvate just to name a few) which is the most effective?

The bottom line is that research, again, dictates that good ole-fashioned creatine monohydrate is still the most effective form. Not only is that good news to cut down on confusion, it’s also great news for your wallet since you can still get creatine monohydrate at a great price at most supplement outlets.

As science tries to make an even better version of creatine, just stick with the simple stuff for the best performance results.

Scientific Research Done On Creatine

New Findings On Creatine?

Along with many of the aforementioned benefits of creatine (most of which are muscle-building related) it has also recently been discovered that it can also act as an antioxidant, improve glucose tolerance, increases peripheral blood flow and resting energy expenditure, diminishes myostatin activity, and improve cognitive performance.

Antioxidant: Although not entirely conclusive, creatine has shown signs in some studies to scavenge free radicals1. Now, what impact this can have on ATP support is not yet known and more studies need to be conducted but the anecdotal research is promising.

Improves glucose tolerance: Some recent studies suggest that creatine may increase glucose tolerance along with aerobic exercise meaning glucose metabolism may be improved2. This did not indicate, however, that it increased insulin sensitivity so further studies may be warranted.

Increases peripheral blood flow and resting energy expenditure: Since creatine does increase glycogen supercompensation it will naturally increase blood flow and metabolic processes associated with muscle cells3.

Diminishes myostatin activity: Myostatin is a catabolic regulator of muscle tissue. Basically, it deters your body from gaining too much muscle – it blocks muscle growth. Recently creatine has been shown to decrease the levels of myostatin4. Some researchers reason that this is why you gain muscle mass and strength while on the supplement.

Improves cognitive performance: Creatine has shown promising results regarding memory recall and intelligence tests – both requiring speed of processing5. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why this is but some say the increased blood flow could be a contributing factor.

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16 Comments
Don Basnett
Posted on: Fri, 06/15/2018 - 11:41

Hi Brad,
I am 62 years young and I just started going back to working out. My goal is to increase strength, increase muscle size, and lose body fat. I am still trying to understand supplements. I am curently using a whey protein post workout but feel I need something more. Would creatine be beneficial to someone my age and what are your thoughts on BCAA.

Simon Mgqunyana
Posted on: Mon, 07/06/2015 - 08:25

I am interested in using creatine. Recently i stumbled on this journal article stating that: Muscle-Building Supplements Linked to Testicular Cancer
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/843199?nlid=79803_2982&src=wnl_edit_...
http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v112/n7/full/bjc201526a.html

I have included the two resources above accessed 2015/07/06. Can you kindly respond to the above?

Regards

Simon

Dhaxe
Posted on: Sun, 07/05/2015 - 13:12

Is there any difference between the creatine powder and caps. Coz im using caps for about year now. I want to try powder. Whey powder and bcaa and creatine. Is it ok to take them as a supplements in 1 day of exercise? And im also using jack3d as my pre workout. ?

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BradBorland
Posted on: Mon, 07/06/2015 - 16:15

Hello, the main point is to go for creatine monohydrate. There are many other forms but studies show that the plain ole monohydrate form is still the best - and better for your wallet.... Whether that is pill or powder form is not really an issue.

Dhaxe
Posted on: Wed, 07/08/2015 - 10:22

Can you please help me to nderatand what is the bcaa can to during work out. When is the beat wy to take bcaa and alao as the whey protein. Can take protein during my work out?

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BradBorland
Posted on: Wed, 07/08/2015 - 22:36

It's beneficial to take a quality whey protein supplement post-workout. Whey protein has high levels of BCAAs.

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BradBorland
Posted on: Mon, 06/29/2015 - 13:57

I'm here to answer any questions you may have...

Erik
Posted on: Wed, 07/01/2015 - 20:52

Good article.

Is there any benefit to taking more than five grams a day of creatine monohydrate?

Also, wasn't there some evidence that creatine helped Alzheimer patients in some way?

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BradBorland
Posted on: Thu, 07/02/2015 - 15:34

Hi Erik. I know there was some studies floating around about creatine and its effects on Alzheimer's but there has been no solid proof or conclusions drawn (as of yet).

If you take more than 5 grams per day I would split it into 5 grams before and another 5 after training.

Hayden grimes
Posted on: Thu, 07/02/2015 - 00:38

Do I am starting to be a bodybuilder. Right now, I'm taking the supplement Clear Muscle. I want to know if it really works and if therror are any heath risks with taking it at age 13 and a half. And I also wanna know if creatine will stunt my growth. Will creatine stunt my growth and if I start taking it and add it to my stack that I am making, will it make me stronger? Thanks in advance but please respond. It's very urgent.

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BradBorland
Posted on: Thu, 07/02/2015 - 15:36

Hi Hayden. As far as the Brand that sells Clear Muscle (I think it's MuscleTech) I really can't answer for that specific company. However, there have been no reported cases (that I know of) that creatine stunts growth.

My advice: You are only 13. Hold off on the supplements. You hardly have any training time under your belt. Train right, eat right and rest right first.

Hayden grimes
Posted on: Thu, 07/02/2015 - 00:44

Hi there. I'm a 13.5 year old who is startin to body build. My current supplement is Clear Muscle. I wanted to know if the rebus any health risks with taking it and if so, can you please tell me. I also needed and wanted to know If creatine will stunt my growth or do something harmful to my body. I was trying to find the best stack that is not extremely expensive. Do you have any ideas on stacks that will not harm my growth and development or have any heath or body risks? If so or if u have an answer to any of my questions, please respond because this is a very urgent matter to me so please respond to me soon.

Taylor Moore
Posted on: Mon, 07/06/2015 - 09:00

Hi Brad, great informative article on creatine. However I do have some health questions regarding my body. I am a college basketball player (21 years old) and am very cautious of what I put in my body and so therefor have never taken creatine. The only supplements I take right now is pure 100% whey Isolate directly after my workout and a scoop of ON 100% casein before bed. So my concerns with taking creatine is the water intake, hydration, and kidney function while taking this supplement. My workouts/lifts are very taxing and I lose A LOT of sweat during them. I do however drink plenty of water and am always properly hydrated. Are there any adverse effects that creatine can cause for an athlete like myself, especially with dehydration? And would you recommend this supplement to me if my goal is to still stay lean, but gain lean muscle mass? The last thing I want is to gain belly fat or become slower. And what would be your recommended dosing?

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BradBorland
Posted on: Mon, 07/06/2015 - 16:22

Hi Taylor. First and foremost the goal would be to stay hydrated. It sounds like you have that covered. Next, you won't gain any body fat from creatine. You will, however, gain some fluid weight in the form of more water which is needed to "super" hydrate the cells for better protein synthesis. A dehydrated cell won't help the muscle gain process all that much.

Since you are used to being a certain weight you may or may not feel a slight alteration in your mobility - it depends since everyone is so different. Here's the point: if you decide to take creatine make sure you stay hydrated, give yourself some time to adjust to the supplement (your muscles will feel "fuller") and pay close attention to your performance on the court. If you feel any negative side effects (headaches, drowsiness, decreased performance) then stop taking it.

I feel it will improve muscle mass and make you a stronger player...

Caleb
Posted on: Mon, 07/06/2015 - 13:26

Brad,

I appreciate your article and found it very informative; however, I do have a question. In your research, have you found any benefit to cycling creatine on a monthly basis?

Thank you,
Caleb

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BradBorland
Posted on: Tue, 07/07/2015 - 12:56

HI Caleb. There hasn't been extensive research (as of this message) on cycling creatine, however, I can see a benefit from cycling. I think being on any supplement endlessly isn't a good thing. I would go with 8 to 12 weeks on or so with a few weeks off. Just my two cents...