We are going to dive into the world of creatine supplements. What is creatine? What does it do? Who benefits from it? And what role does it play in performance and recovery? On the Move More Podcast, Dr. Scott Jablonka, Carolina Movement Doc, breaks down his general understanding of the supplement. He pulls from his twelve years of experience in the fitness industry, including where and why the supplement is used, whether it’s essential for the body, and how to consume it in the right amounts.

A quick side note, Dr. Jablonka is now running Carolina Movement Doc full time! So if you haven’t yet, check out his website, he may be able to help you get ahead and stay ahead of pain!

We recommend you consult with a registered dietician to better discuss what’s right for your body.

You do not need supplements such as creatine to be healthy. You can be a healthy individual with good diet practices and regular exercise. Creatine can be a help to folks who participate in intense training exercises. It can help with performance and recovery. 

Can creatine help with performance and recovery?

 

Is it worth taking creatine?

Before we can answer that, we need to know a few things. What is your goal? What do you want to accomplish with your training and working out?

You should always speak to your dietitian, nutritionist or doctor when changing your diet and adding in supplements. They know you and your specific situation. The information shared with you is for general information but does not constitute medical advice. Reach out to Dr. Jablonka and he can help connect you with someone who can give you specific advice.

The second thing to note is this is still a supplement. It is designed to supplement your diet. It is important to know, what are you trying to supplement? Is your nutrition on point? If it isn’t, creatine won’t help.

Much like what was discussed in our episode on protein powder, we want to reiterate that you do not need creatine to be healthy. Good diet, hydration and sleep will make you healthy.

But if you are looking for the competitive edge, for one extra lap or 1-second faster, creatine may be beneficial.

Creatine claims

Creatine can help individuals and athletes gain muscle, enhance strength and improve exercise performance.

It is something that Dr. Jablonka takes when his training is consistent.

Phosphocreatine

Man at gym lifting heavy weights

Creatine is naturally found in our muscles in the form of phosphocreatine This helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting and high-energy exercises. Chemically, it shares a lot of similarities to amino acids, which you can read more about in our post about protein powder.

95% of phosphocreatine is found in your muscles. The other 5% is found in your brain, kidneys and liver.

What is the role of creatine in our body?

The role of creatine is to create more Adenosine Triphosphate (known as ATP) in the body.

Adenosine Triphosphate, the high-energy chemical

Taking supplemental creatine creates an overabundance in your body. It creates more of the high-energy molecule, ATP. We’ll refer to it as the energy chemical.

When we have energy chemical in our body, we have more performance.

What else does creatine do?

Woman flexing her bicep muscle

Creatine helps you gain muscle

Creatine can help you gain muscle by boosting your workload. It will allow an athlete to complete more total work in a shorter period of time. Time tends to be a limiting factor, so creatine can help you maximize your creatine.

Creatine improves the ability to repair muscles

Creatine can improve your ability to repair muscles and aid in new muscle growth. It increases cell hydration by increasing the water content within your muscle cells, which plays a role in muscle growth.

Some people complain about bloating. So you need to be sure you are drinking enough water. Your muscle cells are taking in more so this is super important and may help with bloating.

Creatine helps reduce protein breakdowns

Creatine can help reduce protein breakdowns which can inhibit muscle breakdown during heavy lifting. When we train we are breaking muscle down. When we do it properly, they grow back bigger (also known as hypertrophy).

Benefits of creatine

Electrical activity of the human brain

The brain benefits

As mentioned earlier, only 5% of creatine is found outside of your muscles and in places like your brain, kidneys and liver.

There is some evidence that the phosphocreatine stored in your brain can help with brain function and delay neurological disease. There is still a lot more research that needs to be done on this topic.

Adding muscle mass

Creatine is widely accepted as the single most beneficial supplement to adding muscle mass. It’s beneficial for athletes and sedentary individuals. It can even help our aging population, the geriatric population.

How much creatine should I take?

Do the smart thing and read the instructions. Typically in the first week, it’s 5 grams 4 times a day. You are ramping up. Then it’s 3-5 grams a day thereafter.

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water! Set alarms and reminders to make sure you hit your water goals!

The beauty of creatine is there don’t appear to be many negative side effects.

Creatine is the best bang for your buck. It’s on the cheaper side and one of the most effective supplements you can take.

The research

  • A study from the Journal of American Dietetic Association looked at its effect on muscle performance during bench press and squat jumps. It found in one week of supplementation, both of these increased in measurable numbers.
  • A 2000 study out of Spain looked at sprint performance in elite soccer athletes. They took note of repeating sprinting at 15 meters. Then they implemented creatine in half of the subjects. Creatine favorably affected repeated sprint performance and increased the player’s body mass.

Do I need creatine?

Woman sleeping

You do not need creatine to be healthy. A good diet, hydration, sleep… these are the things that are important to being healthy. Creatine cannot change these factors.

But if you are looking for a competitive edge. If you want to sprint faster, have a heavier bench press, more peak power output, better muscle recovery, lift more without hesitation then yes. You can benefit from it. You don’t need it. But you can benefit from it. It’s safe, it’s cheap and it can be worth using.

Dr. Scott Jablonka

Dr. Scott Jablonka is the Founder of the Carolina Movement Doc, an educational platform for athletes, coaches, developing therapists, seasoned therapists and individuals looking to move often and move well.

Special announcement: I’m launching the Carolina Movement Performance Therapy services full-time in Charlotte, North Carolina. Grab your seat before the slots are filled!

Connect with Dr. Scott

Carolina Movement Doc

If you are in the Charlotte, NC area and want to improve your movement, come see Dr. Jablonka at the Carolina Movement Doc. Anyone else can reach him online. He loves discussing the science of pain and anything related to movement.

Want more movement tips from Dr. Scott Jablonka? Listen to older episodes of our Move More Podcast.