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  • Luke French, Health Coach

Why Take Creatine?

Updated: Jul 6, 2020



Creatine is a supplement that EVERYONE should be taking if they want to improve overall muscular function, strength, brain health and decrease risk of disease. If you are a health and fitness enthusiast and you are not taking creatine, please read on.


Enhances muscular hypertrophy:

It is pretty well known that creatine improves our ability to grow muscle. This is achieved through improved energy production, increased water content, increases in IGF-1 (a key hormone for muscle growth) [1]. It is then assumed, or mechanistically theorised that the increase in physiological cross sectional area of the hypertrophied muscle will increase its mechanical advantage to then elect strength promoting effects, as well as the energy production properties creatine supplementation will have in helping strength improvements.

Improve aerobic performance and recovery:

Creatine an enhance glycogen stores [2], up to improved levels of 18% in contrast to those that don’t take creatine after just 5 days of creatine supplementation. Glycogen being our main fuel for exercise, this seems to be a pretty helpful supplement to introduce. The role of creatine in the body is to produce ATP and having extra creatine can boost your capacity to generate ATP, the main source of energy within our body.. again, a wise choice to supplement creatine.

Increases bone density:

Everyone knows the benefit of creatine on muscle strength and size, and so the improvements here will lead to an increases pull on the attachments to the bone, triggering the osteogenic process to create and build more bone. This is a theorised mechanism and isn’t necessarily proven.

Creatine ‘may’ also have direct impact on bone turnover. Bone cells rely on adenosine triphosphate re-phosphorylation via the creatine kinase reaction. Creatine added to a low serum culture medium increased metabolic activity and differentiation of osteoblasts cells (in rats) [3], which inhibit osteoclast activity and decrease bone resorption. There is some evidence that suggests supplementing with creatine does have the potential to influence bone biology, but further studies are needed and literature of the longer-term effects of creatine for osteogenic reasons are limited [4]

Improve glucose metabolism?

Creatine may help improve blood sugar regulation, T2D and insulin sensitivity. It has been shown that creatine increases the expression of GLUT-4 proteins [5], that transports glucose into and out of muscle cells. This means improved insulin action and glucose disposal, as well as the increased ability for glycogen syntheses after exercise (point 1). An increase in GLUT-4 also helps to keep muscle mass and strength during times of immobilisation, so while injured, sedentary or ill, creatine can have positive muscle and strength retaining effects.

Disclaimer: this has been proven in rats, but the influence on creatine in human skeletal muscle on GLUT-4 expression is yet to be proven.

Improves brain performance:

One of creatine biggest influences is actually on our brain. This is achieved by improving the supply of energy to our brain and also the neuroprotective effects it elicits. Creatine plays a pivotal role in brain energy homeostasis, being a modulator of ATP and ADP. Creatine supplementation had a significant positive effect on working memory and intelligence in one study [6].

Creatine works on our brain in a very similar way that it does to our muscles. They both use creatine phosphate as an energy source. As the brain needs energy, just like our muscles, during hard, prolonged mental tasks and activities, PCr can get depleted and used up leaving the brain with little fuel to work efficiently. With the supplementation of creatine, we can fuel our brains much more efficiently.

Reduces inflammation:

Inflammation, if chronic, can cause mayhem in our bodies. Whether it is a result of out dietary intake, training, environmental exposure, controlling inflammation is a huge factor contributing to our longevity. It has been proven that creatine supplementation can inhibit the inflammatory response [7]. In a study carried out on athletes supplementing creatine, compared to a placebo-supplemented group, plasma TNF-a and C-Reactive Protein were significantly increased in the placebo group. Creatine supplementation seemed to also reverse the effects of the previously mentioned inflammatory markers. This is also linked to recovery that i mentioned in point 1.

It protects the brain from damage:

Creatine administration lessened the effects of brain damage following trauma to heads by 36% in mice and 50% in rats [8]. As well as this, clearance of free radicals and calcium was significantly increased. Children and adolescents given creatine spent less time in an intensive care unit and required tube feeding for a shorter period of time than controls not given creatine. When examined three and six months after injury, individuals who had received creatine supplementation displayed greater improvements in cognitive functioning, self-care, sociability, and communication skills than controls [9]


Published by Luke French, 24th June 2020

www.lukefrench.co.uk


References:

[1] Burke DG, Candow DG, Chilibeck PD, et al. Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008;18(4):389-398. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.18.4.389


[2] Roberts PA, Fox J, Peirce N, Jones SW, Casey A, Greenhaff PL. Creatine ingestion augments dietary carbohydrate mediated muscle glycogen supercompensation during the initial 24 h of recovery following prolonged exhaustive exercise in humans. Amino Acids. 2016;48(8):1831-1842. doi:10.1007/s00726-016-2252-x


[3] Gerber I, ap Gwynn I, Alini M, Wallimann T. Stimulatory effects of creatine on metabolic activity, differentiation and mineralization of primary osteoblast-like cells in monolayer and micromass cell cultures. Eur Cell Mater. 2005;10:8-22. Published 2005 Jul 15. doi:10.22203/ecm.v010a02


[4] Candow DG, Chilibeck PD. Potential of creatine supplementation for improving aging bone health. J Nutr Health Aging. 2010;14(2):149-153. doi:10.1007/s12603-009-0224-5


[5] Ju JS, Smith JL, Oppelt PJ, Fisher JS. Creatine feeding increases GLUT4 expression in rat skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2005;288(2):E347-E352. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00238.2004


[6] Rae C, Digney AL, McEwan SR, Bates TC. Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Proc Biol Sci. 2003;270(1529):2147-2150. doi:10.1098/rspb.2003.2492


[7] Effects of creatine supplementation on oxidative stress and inflammatory markers after repeated-sprint exercise in humans, 2012


[8] Sullivan PG, Geiger JD, Mattson MP, Scheff SW. Dietary supplement creatine protects against traumatic brain injury. Ann Neurol. 2000;48(5):723-729


[9] Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutrition, Trauma, and the Brain; Erdman J, Oria M, Pillsbury L, editors. Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011. 10, Creatine.


Personal training in sevenoaks, tonbridge and hildenborough (kent). Offering health and fitness services one-to-one and online coaching. We specialise in fat loss, weight loss and body composition.

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