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What Have Experts Learned from 25 Years of Research on Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation? An Article Review

Article reviewed: Rawson, E.S. (2018). The safety and efficacy of creatine monohydrate supplementation: What we have learned from the past 25 years of research. Sports Science Exchange. 31(186), p 1-6. 


Written by: Madelyn Trefzger and Kaitlyn Pscodna


Are you interested in including creatine supplementation in your routine but not quite sure if it's worth it? This post summarizes an article from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute on the safety and efficacy of creatine monohydrate based on 25 years of research. 


What Have Experts Learned from 25 Years of Research on Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation? An Article Review

First, it is important to know that creatine is a naturally occurring compound produced in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys and can also be consumed through meat and fish. It plays a role in muscle contraction and is stored within skeletal muscle tissue. 


That said, most individuals cannot obtain enough creatine from their diet alone to reap some of the proven benefits creatine provides. Supplementation increases muscle creatine and phosphocreatine stores, sustaining exercise that is otherwise limited by body’s inability to keep up with exercise fuel demands. Supplementation most consistently improves the performance exercise bouts <30 seconds (resistance/strength training). Subsequently, individuals may see increases in lean body mass. The performance of longer-duration exercise (>30 seconds) and sprints embedded during or at the end of endurance exercise may also be enhanced with creatine monohydrate supplementation, and creatine has been shown to enhance glycogen (energy) storage, improve recovery, improve bone strength when paired w/resistance training, enhance cognitive function (especially after poor sleep or recovery), (may) reduce brain damage following a TBI (ie. concussion), (may) reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and have anti-inflammatory properties.


When considering supplementation, the exact dose for optimal creatine stores in muscles is not known; however, various methods have been researched. High dose, short term protocols, or about 20 grams / day for 5 days, and a lower dose, long term protocol consisting of 3-5 grams (typically one scoop)/day for about 30 days (this is the one that we recommend!) have both been shown to be effective in elevating muscle creatine levels. And while these "loading phases" exist, you can really take creatine consistently for up to about 4 years. Any excess creatine ingested is excreted through the urine. The uptake of creatine is insulin mediated meaning it can be optimally absorbed when taken with a carbohydrate source! 


With many years of research, creatine has been one of the most well studied supplements. There is very little evidence supporting any adverse effects related to supplementation meaning creatine is a safe and effective tool to utilize for improving health and performance when taken at appropriate doses. 


Links to Creatine Monohydrate Supplements: 

Muscle Milk - the one I always recommend because it is the cheapest, high-quality option.


References:

  1. Rawson, E.S. (2018). THE SAFETY AND EFFICACY OF CREATINE MONOHYDRATE SUPPLEMENTATION: WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM THE PAST 25 YEARS OF RESEARCH.

  2. Candow, D. G. (2023). CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION: NEW INSIGHTS AND PERSPECTIVES ON BONE AND BRAIN HEALTH. 36(240).

  3. Peeling, P., Castell, L. M., Derave, W., Hon, O. de, & Burke, L. M. (2019). Sports Foods and Dietary Supplements for Optimal Function and Performance Enhancement in Track-and-Field Athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 29(2), 198–209. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0271

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