NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Creatine is typically thought of as a weight gain supplement for body builders and football players, but it can also be a fit for older individuals, women and endurance sports athletes, helping to reduce age-related muscle loss, boost brain health and promote muscle recovery, among other benefits. Molly gives us the rundown on creatine – along with how to use it – in today’s FUELED Wellness + Nutrition.
About creatine | Our bodies produce creatine in small amounts; it’s also available in meat and fish, and dietary supplements. Creatine is involved in energy production – especially under conditions of high energy demand, such as intense physical or mental activity.
Creatine Benefits | In addition to improved strength, power and muscle mass when used in conjunction with resistance exercise, and improvement in performance and recovery in high intensity workouts, creatine appears to have the following unexpected benefits:
- Age-related muscle loss: Evidence indicates that creatine supplementation may enhance the effect of resistance training, subsequently reducing age-related muscle loss (also referred to as sarcopenia) [links here, here, here, and here].
- Bone health: Creatine supplementation has been shown to increase bone density and/or reduce bone loss, especially when combined with resistance training [inks here and here].
- Memory and cognition: More research is needed, but preliminary data shows that creatine may reduce mental fatigue associated with demanding mental activity and sleep deprivation. It may also improve memory, particularly for people with below-average creatine levels, including many older adults and vegetarians [links here and here].
Creatine Precautions | Creatine side effects are minimal; what we used to think was cautionary (cramping, kidney effects) has since been shown to be less of an issue, or in many cases, a non-issue. In people with healthy kidneys, long-term creatine supplementation is safe, but there are no long-term creatine studies in people with kidney issues.
Primary side effects may include diarrhea and/or nausea if too much creatine is taken at one time, in which case the doses should be spread out throughout the day and taken with meals.
How to Supplement
Evidence-based research shows that creatine supplementation is relatively well tolerated, especially at recommended dosage of 3-5 g per day.
Creatine ‘loading’ is another option, which includes supplementing with 20-25 grams of creatine for 5–7 days, divided into five smaller doses throughout the day. Creatine loading may also be prescribed relative to body mass: 0.3 g per kilogram per day for 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance phase of 3–5 grams per day.
Creatine monohydrate has the most evidence behind it to support its efficacy. Creapure is considered the gold standard for creatine; Creapure is a trademarked ingredient found in a variety of creatine products.
For more on Creatine, check out Molly’s FUELED podcast on all things creatine, with Molly and sports RD Tavis Piattoly.
*Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s articles + TV segments at www.mollykimball.com, and sign up for Eat Fit Wellness Bites weekly newsletter, here.