Does Creatine Monohydrate Work? Does Science Validate Creatine’s Effectiveness?
Well, if you remember your high school biology class (alright, alright, I don’t either), energy in the cell is produced via the Krebs cycle by a process called glycolysis — the use of glucose and oxygen to produce energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
Creatine’s job is to re-energize the ATP energy molecule, which becomes ADP (adenosine di-phosphate) after being depleted. By providing the body with large amounts of raw creatine, your muscles have the necessary raw material to perform more intense contractions (work) with less recovery time.
Is There Any Scientific Evidence Backing Creatine’s Effects On Athletic Performance?
Creatine is one of the few performance supplements that has been studied extensively (see J Am Diet Assoc. 1997 Jul;97(7):765-70, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Feb;34(2):332-43, Med SCI Sports Exerc. 1998 Jan;30(1):73-82 , J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Aug;17(3):425-38).
And this is barely scraping the tip of the iceberg. If you visit PubMed and do a search for “creatine monohydrate” you’ll find over 200 published studies.
Clearly, creatine is a supplement that does have some science behind it… and when you try it yourself, you’ll know it!
What will you notice when supplementing with creatine monohydrate?
Well, the first thing you’ll notice is that you will weigh more — creatine causes a cell volumizing effect — meaning it draws water and other nutrients into the muscle cells. Don’t worry, this isn’t the same thing as water retention, which is water being stored outside of muscle cells. Basically, you’ll be bigger and more pumped (don’t get too excited — this only lasts while you’re on creatine).
In the old days supplement retailers used to claim you could gain “10 pounds of muscle in 10 days” using creatine. This is a bogus claim, despite the fact that your weight will almost certainly increase with creatine supplementation. It’s only water weight, however. Stop taking creatine, and that weight disappears. Heck, not even the strongest anabolic steroids work that well!
So what’s the benefit of creatine supplementation then?
Well, since creatine re-energizes the ATP molecule, you can work out harder and do more work. ergo, you get a greater adaptive response. And your muscles recover and grow accordingly. That’s the benefit.