• David

Creatine 101: Part 1

Every man, woman, and child (without renal implications) should be supplementing with creatine monohydrate alongside their well-rounded diet.

Yes, it is that important. If creatine was ever considered to become a nutrient I would have no problems with it.

It's usages in both athletic and clinical applications has shown consistent promise for the past few decades.

Not only is it the most widely studied supplement in the world, it may also be one of the most comprehensive in terms of benefits to health. The list of benefits is LONG.

Another great feature is that it has virtually NO negative side effects despite what non-credible media sources have said over the years. Most reported issues with creatine likely have to do with the consumer not fully diluting the creatine in solution or potentially not being hydrated in the first place.

So how does it benefit you? Here's a paraphrased list:

• increases muscle strength during training

• increases lean tissue (muscle) from training as a byproduct of increased work output/volume

• may prevent athletic injuries [1]

• may prevent depression

• may prevent certain forms of cancer due to DNA protection [4,5,6]

• may prevent brain trauma or injury (think about your kids that play contact sports) [7]

• may be beneficial to select medical conditions (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, *Huntington's) [9, 10, 11]

• may enhance cognition particularly in vegetarians or omnivores that are creatine deficient [12,13]

Any of these features sound intriguing? By the way, creatine monohydrate is dirt cheap. In this review, I'll discuss the basics of what you need to know on creatine.

What is creatine?

Creatine is an ergogenic aid (performance-enhancing) that is synthesized in the liver and pancreas and is derived from three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine [1]. It is part of phosphocreatine and is used anaerobically to initiate high-intensity activity. However, stored phosphocreatine suffices to support activity for only several seconds and must be resynthesized for use in similar subsequent activities [3]. Creatine is naturally occurring in foods such as meat, fish, and milk.

Creatine Distribution in the Body

Creatine phosphate is broken down via creatine kinase to yield a phosphate group to adenosine diphosphate to make adenosine TRIphosphate again (remember that you need adenosine triphosphate for energy).

OR in equation terms

ADP + CP-->(creatine kinase) -->ATP+ C

I'm a visual person. This chart should help you envision the glory of creatine's works. Below is an example of which energy pathways are being activated by the duration and demand of the event.

The multiple energy pathways operate do not operate alone. They can all be working together at any given moment pending the intensity and duration of the event. For example, imagine pacing yourself on a run when all of a sudden, the finish lines comes in sight.

What happens next? You're picking up the pace! That's when creatine kicks in to help increase power output when you need it most.

Have your lifts in the gym ever hit a plateau? That's an easy job for creatine. I've got a cool story about that for another time!

Imagine this scenario: what if you or your kids play a contact support with the possibility of a traumatic brain injury? There's evidence (7) that creatine could mitigate the damage from a blow to the head.

Convinced yet? Great! You can find some HERE on Amazon and help make my family a small commission from your purchase ; )


1. Thomas W Buford, Richard B Kreider*, Jeffrey R Stout, Mike Greenwood, Bill Campbell, Marie Spano, Tim Ziegenfuss, Hector Lopez, Jamie Landis and Jose Antonio. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2007, 4:6 6doi:10.1186/1550-2783-4-6

2. Matthew B Cooke, Emma Rybalka, Andrew D Williams, Paul J Cribb and Alan Hayes. Creatine supplementation enhances muscle force recovery after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2009, 6:13doi:10.1186/1550-2783-6-13

3. American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer Second Edition. Lippincott Williams &Wilkins. 2007

4. Schimmel L, et al. The synthetic phosphagen cyclocreatine phosphate inhibits the growth of a broad spectrum of solid tumors. Anticancer Res. (1996)

5. Kornacker M, et al. Hodgkin disease-derived cell lines expressing ubiquitous mitochondrial creatine kinase show growth inhibition by cyclocreatine treatment independent of apoptosis. Int J Cancer. (2001)

6. Lillie JW, et al. Cyclocreatine (1-carboxymethyl-2-iminoimidazolidine) inhibits growth of a broad spectrum of cancer cells derived from solid tumors. Cancer Res. (1993)

7. Sakellaris G, et al. Prevention of complications related to traumatic brain injury in children and adolescents with creatine administration: an open label randomized pilot study. J Trauma. (2006)

8. Prevention of traumatic headache, dizziness and fatigue with creatine administration. A pilot study

9. Sawmiller DR, et al. High-energy compounds promote physiological processing of Alzheimer's amyloid-β precursor protein and boost cell survival in culture. J Neurochem. (2012)

10. Bender A, et al. Long-term creatine supplementation is safe in aged patients with Parkinson disease. Nutr Res. (2008)

11. Hersch, S. M., et al. Creatine in Huntington disease is safe, tolerable, bioavailable in brain and reduces serum 8OH2'dG. Neurology 66(2):250-2, 2006.

12. Benton D, Donohoe R. The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores. Br J Nutr. (2011)

13. McMorris T, et al. Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn. (2007)


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