Sports Medicine

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 107–125 | Cite as

Creatine Supplementation and Exercise Performance

Recent Findings
Leading Article

Abstract

Creatine monohydrate (Cr) is perhaps one of the most widely used supplements taken in an attempt to improve athletic performance. The aim of this review is to update, summarise and evaluate the findings associated with Cr ingestion and sport and exercise performance with the most recent research available. Because of the large volume of scientific literature dealing with Cr supplementation and the recent efforts to delineate sport-specific effects, this paper focuses on research articles that have been published since 1999.

Cr is produced endogenously by the liver or ingested from exogenous sources such as meat and fish. Almost all the Cr in the body is located in skeletal muscle in either the free (Cr: ~40%) or phosphorylated (PCr: ~60%) form and represents an average Cr pool of about 120–140g for an average 70kg person.

It is hypothesised that Cr can act though a number of possible mechanisms as a potential ergogenic aid but it appears to be most effective for activities that involve repeated short bouts of high-intensity physical activity. Additionally, investigators have studied a number of different Cr loading programmes; the most common programme involves an initial loading phase of 20 g/day for 5–7 days, followed by a maintenance phase of 3–5 g/day for differing periods of time (1 week to 6 months). When maximal force or strength (dynamic or isotonic contractions) is the outcome measure following Cr ingestion, it generally appears that Cr does significantly impact force production regardless of sport, sex or age. The evidence is much more equivocal when investigating isokinetic force production and little evidence exists to support the use of Cr for isometric muscular performance. There is little benefit from Cr ingestion for the prevention or suppression of muscle damage or soreness following muscular activity.

When performance is assessed based on intensity and duration of the exercises, there is contradictory evidence relative to both continuous and intermittent endurance activities. However, activities that involve jumping, sprinting or cycling generally show improved sport performance following Cr ingestion. With these concepts in mind, the focus of this paper is to summarise the effectiveness of Cr on specific performance outcomes rather than on proposed mechanisms of action.

The last brief section of this review deals with the potential adverse effects of Cr supplementation. There appears to be no strong scientific evidence to support any adverse effects but it should be noted that there have been no studies to date that address the issue of long-term Cr usage.

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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, Department of Health and Sport SciencesUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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