Author Archives: Dr J

Interview – Stand Up Paddleboarder Helga Goebel

helga2SNI: You are the #1 female stand-up paddleboarder (SUP) on the east coast. What’s the ‘secret’ to your success?

Helga: Wow. Put me on the spot won’t you. :-) Actually, there is no ‘secret’ to my success. What’s the old saying? The harder you work the more luck you have….. Just kidding… I do quite bit of SUP training. In addition, I cross-train with outrigger paddlers in Fort Lauderdale, the Lanakila Iki Outrigger Canoe Club. I also do a bit of strength and conditioning out of the water. I just started working with a strength and conditioning specialist as well as a sports nutritionist to improve my training/performance and health.

SNI: What is the most difficult thing (physically) about SUP racing?

Helga: One of the most difficult things is dealing with the unpredictability of the weather. Which way is the wind blowing, is the water choppy, are there sharks in the water (ok, just kidding, there aren’t really any), etc. The other part is dealing with the heat. Proper fueling before, during, and post-race are key.

SNI: What is the biggest misconception about SUP?

Helga: The biggest misconception is that it is a very difficult sport. Really anyone can do it if they are willing to put in some time in the water. Sure, you might fall down a few times here and there. But hey, you’re in the beautiful ocean (lake or river)! You fall in; you get up and start all over again.

SNI: Do you cross-train or weight training? If so, describe briefly what you do.6a013488ee9d3e970c01543533d8ce970c

Helga: Yes. I just started a new program in which I’m doing a combination of traditional weight training and functional training. For instance, if you look at the stand-up stroke, you’ll notice that it requires muscular endurance and balance of the legs combined with a strong core. In addition, much of the weight training work I do in the gym focuses on shoulder extension (to get the back muscles), the core, and lower body. Also, I mix in a bit of ‘instability’ work. For example, I might stand on an unstable surface while doing single arm cable rows to mimic the instability of being on a board in an ocean that is constantly moving.

SNI: Do you take any supplements to assist you with your training?

Helga: Yes, my sports nutritionist (Jose Antonio PhD) helps me quite a bit with my diet and supplement program. For instance, I take creatine and beta-alanine.  I’m no expert on supplements so I rely on the advice of my sports nutritionist.  I guess beta-alanine will help in dealing with the acid build-up from intense paddling; for example, when I do intervals on the water, I’ve noticed that they feel easier after taking beta-alanine for several weeks.  I also take creatine for overall power and to help me recover.  I am also a big fan of fish oil and take that religiously (the Original Nutritionals brand).  That and a multivitamin have done wonders for me; since I started taking it back in January, I haven’t been sick once, and I feel that those supplements help make my immune system strong . I try to eat clean, but sometimes I just eat my sweets.  It’s my weakness.  As I peak for a race, I clean my diet up a bit and I’ll notice my percent body fat drop into the low teens.  Usually my body fat % is in the mid-teens.

SNI: If you could be the BEST in any sport (besides SUP) what sport would that be?

Helga: I’d love to be a skipper or captain of an offshore sailing race like the Volvo race.

SNI: Which athlete do you admire the most?

Helga:  Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna.  He was a 3-time Formula One world champion.  Amazing athlete…and his attitude towards racing and outlook on life is great.  I highly recommend the movie/documentary “Senna” to anyone.

About Helga Goebel

Age: 35

Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Nationality: Brazilian Title: Professional Stand up Paddle boarder

Sports: Swimming, Surfing, Diving, Fishing, Sailing, Wakeboarding, Kitesurfing, Snowboarding, Stand Up Paddleboarding.

Sponsors: Riviera Paddlesurf, Original Nutritionals

My Story: My interest in water sports began with a windsurf when I was 16 years old. My father used to windsurf and I couldn’t wait to learn it. When I finally did learn it, I used to learn how to jibe, water star, beach star all from the pictures on the American windsurf magazine (I didn’t speak English back then). And then when I moved to Fort Lauderdale one day I was driving down US-1 and I saw Water-Play (it was the biggest windsurf store at that time, they were in business for more than 15 years) and I thought to myself, why not ask for a job. So it eventually led me to employment at Water-Play for over 7 years. While working there it took me awhile to try kitesurf because the kites weren’t safe when they first came out. After a couple of years and the progression of the technology on the kites, they finally became safe and I decided to give it one more try and I have been kiting since then. Water-Play was sold so I became partner with Neil Hutchinson at the Fort Lauderdale Tiki Beach watersport concession for one year. That’s when I finally got to try Stand Up Paddle Board (AKA SUP) and since that I have try to get in the water every day for fitness, to look at the sea life, dive, surf and race.  My first SUP race was a life guard paddle series, I loved it so much that I looked for other races and nowadays it is a race pretty much 52 weeks out the year. So this is my story, and I have a lot more to tell you.

Recent Races

2011 SUP Splash 1st women’s division

2011 Quicksilver/Kam Islander Classic Race #3, 6 mile, Pompano Beach  1st women’s division

2011 Quicksilver/Kam Islander Classic Race #2, 6 mile, Pompano Beach  1st women’s division

 2011 Orange Bowl Paddle Championship 5 mile , Miami , Florida – 1st Women’s Division

2010 Key West SUP Classic 12 mile, Key West , Florida- 1st Women’s Division

2009 Surf World SUP Championship Series, Florida -1st Women’s Division

Coffee Rocks!

by Jose Antonio PhD FISSN.  Has your doctor told you to lay off the coffee? Well if he or she did, then clearly they’re dummies.  Coffee is one of the best drinks for you! Drink more coffee and the risk of death from heart disease goes down.  And besides, that caffeine fix in the morning is better than bad sex or a good donut.  Okay, maybe not.  But you get my drift.

Here’s the super cool study.

BACKGROUND: Caffeine is the world’s most widely used central nervous system stimulant, with approximately 80% consumed in the form of coffee. However, studies that analyze prospectively the relationship between coffee or caffeine consumption and depression risk are scarce.
METHODS:  A total of 50 739 US women (mean age, 63 years) free of depressive symptoms at baseline (in 1996) were prospectively followed up through June 1, 2006. Consumption of caffeine was measured from validated questionnaires completed from May 1, 1980, through April 1, 2004, and computed as cumulative mean consumption with a 2-year latency period applied. Clinical depression was defined as self-reported physician-diagnosed depression and antidepressant use. Relative risks of clinical depression were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression models.
RESULTS:  During 10 years of follow-up (1996-2006), 2607 incident cases of depression were identified. Compared with women consuming 1 or less cup of caffeinated coffee per week, the multivariate relative risk of depression was 0.85 (95% confidence interval, 0.75-0.95) for those consuming 2 to 3 cups per day and 0.80 (0.64-0.99; P for trend <.001) for those consuming 4 cups per day or more. Multivariate relative risk of depression was 0.80 (95% confidence interval, 0.68-0.95; P for trend = .02) for women in the highest (≥550 mg/d) vs lowest (<100 mg/d) of the 5 caffeine consumption categories. Decaffeinated coffee was not associated with depression risk.
CONCLUSIONS: In this large longitudinal study, we found that depression risk decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption. Further investigations are needed to confirm this finding and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption can contribute to depression prevention.

The moral of the story:  Coffee is good for you.

Arch Intern Med. 2011 Sep 26;171(17):1571-8.
Coffee, caffeine, and risk of depression among women.
Lucas M, Mirzaei F, Pan A, Okereke OI, Willett WC, O’Reilly EJ, Koenen K, Ascherio A.


Creatine and Kid’s Brains

By: Jose Antonio PhD

Date Published: October 2011

Do your kids play football?  Compete in MMA (mixed martial arts) or boxing?  Then you definitely need to protect those vulnerable little brains of theirs.  Did you know that besides helping you gain muscle mass and improve exercise performance, regular creatine supplementation can also protect your head from TBI or traumatic brain injury?  Is Siberia cold?  Is the Pope Catholic?

Here’s the proof.  Scientists conducted a study looking at the neuroprotective effects of creatine in 39 children and adolescents, aged between 1 and 18 years of age, with TBI.  Did you notice the age range?  One year to 18 years of age!  The creatine (Cr) was administered for 6 months, at a dose of 0.4 g/kg in an oral suspension form every day.   Just to compare, that dose is equal to 36.4 grams daily for a 200 pound individual.  That’s a whopping dose mi amigo.

What did they find?  Glad you asked.  The administration of Cr to children and adolescents with TBI improved results in several parameters, including duration of post traumatic amnesia (PTA), duration of intubation, and intensive care unit stay. Significant improvement was recorded in the categories of headache, dizziness and fatigue, aspects in all patients. And the punch line?  They found no side effects from the Cr administration.1

So let’s get this straight. You can give a boatload of creatine to kids with TBI and it helps with a whole host of issues and it’s safe.  Amen brotha.

Jose Antonio, PhD is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.





1. Sakellaris G, Nasis G, Kotsiou M, Tamiolaki M, Charissis G, Evangeliou A. Prevention of traumatic headache, dizziness and fatigue with creatine administration. A pilot study. Acta Paediatr. Jan 2008;97(1):31-34.




Creatine monohydrate vs ethyl ester

By: Jose Antonio PhD

Date Published: July 2011
In the ongoing debate between which is better, creatine monohydrate versus creatine ethyl ester, the winner is? Creatine monohydrate!1 What’s odd about this debate is folks claiming CEE (creatine ethyl ester) as being superior to creatine monohydrate have NEVER produced evidence to show that it is even equal to CrMono (creatine monohydrate). NEVER. It’s like claiming to be the best team in pro football during the Pre-season. Folks, it just doesn’t work that way. So after years of waiting for a head-to-head comparison, science confirms what many have thought all along. CEE isn’t even on par with CrMono. In a study lead by one of the leading sports nutrition scientists West of the Mississippi, Dr. Darryn Willoughby and his band of merry men studied how a seven-week supplementation regimen combined with resistance training affected body composition, muscle mass, muscle strength and power, serum (blood) and muscle creatine levels, and serum creatinine levels in 30 non-resistance-trained males. Subjects were randomly assigned to a maltodextrose placebo (PLA), creatine monohydrate (CrMono), or creatine ethyl ester (CEE) group. The supplements were taken at a dose of 0.30 g/kg fat-free body mass (which is approximately 20 g/day) for five days followed by ingestion at 0.075 g/kg fat free mass (approximately 5 g/day) for 42 days. So it is your basic loading phase followed by a maintenance phase. By Day 6 and Day 48, CrMono produced higher levels of serum creatine than CEE. And interestingly, by Day 6 and Day 27, CrMono produced higher muscle creatne levels than CEE although by Day 48, CrMono was still higher (but it wasn’t statistically significant over CEE). One of the more telling results is the fact that CEE results in a much greater conversion to creatinine. Say it isn’t so! OMG! Yes, science has determined that by Day 6, 27 and 48, CEE produced 2 to 3 times more creatinine than CrMono. According to these eggheads, when compared to creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester was not as effective at increasing serum and muscle creatine levels or in improving body composition, muscle mass, strength, and power.

Thus, one can reasonably conclude that CEE is not superior to CrMono. In fact, many of the markers of creatine metabolism suggest that CEE is in fact inferior to CrMono. Because the subjects in this study were untrained, this explains why there weren’t great differences in the training adaptations. One might reasonably conclude that in trained folks, you’re better off sticking to CrMono than CEE.

**One final comment: the beauty of science is in its ability to resolve disputes. For those of you on the CEE bandwagon, perhaps it’s time to jump off that ship.

Jose Antonio PhD is an avid outrigger paddler and the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (




1. Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, et al. The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009;6:6.

Love Affair with Caffeine


By: Jose Antonio PhD, CSCS, FACSM

The Ubiquitous Pick Me Up!

We love caffeine ‘cause it gives your brain a kick start! Let’s face it. You could be moving slower than a fat chick on Xanax, but with a little help from your trimethylxanthine friend (i.e. caffeine), you’ll have more energy than Paris Hilton’s videographer. Here’s the proof!

One study examined one hundred and forty-four volunteers (72 male, 72 female, mean age 21 years) and had them consume breakfast (cereal versus no breakfast) and caffeine (caffeinated versus decaffeinated coffee). They found that those who consumed breakfast cereal had a more positive mood at the start of the test sessions, performed better on a spatial memory task, and felt calmer at the end of the test session than those in the no breakfast condition (lesson: don’t skip breakfast.). Consuming caffeine improved the “encoding of new information and counteracted the fatigue that developed over the test session.”(1) Blah blah blah…translation: that means your brain works better. Bottom line: drink coffee as you eat that delicious bowl of oatmeal (or is it Captain Crunch you prefer?).

Fat Blaster!!

Perhaps one of the more idiotic things I’ve ever heard about caffeine is that it helps you gain fat! Listen up now. If anybody (i.e. your trainer, strength coach, nutritionist, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, or any of the above) says that, than I’d suggest you put on your Nikes and run faster than a cheetah on amphetamines. Why? Because anyone who says that is a moron. Anyhow, here’s some data (i.e. evidence) for you.

Scientists studied 18,417 men and 39,740 women from 1986 to 1998. Caffeine intake was assessed repeatedly every 2-4 years. Weight change was calculated as the difference between the self-reported weight in 1986 and in 1998. What did these self-professed science nerds discover? “Age-adjusted models showed a lower mean weight gain in participants who increased their caffeine consumption than in those who decreased their consumption…” In English, that means those who consumed the most caffeine, gained the least amount of weight. That is, an increase in coffee and tea consumption was also associated with less weight gain.(2)


Yes, caffeine can ratchet up your body’s furnace such that you burn more calories.(3-11) And the cool part is that you oxidize or burn more fat in the process. An oft-used technique by fitness competitors is to down a strong cup-a-Joe or a caffeine pill prior to exercise. You’ll exercise harder, longer, and burn more fat in the process. What about consuming caffeine at rest?

A recent study looked at energy expenditure, fat oxidation or burning, and norepinephrine (NE) kinetics (i.e. how ‘adrenaline’ like hormones are metabolized) after caffeine or placebo ingestion using placebo-controlled double-blind conditions. The dose administered was 5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of fat-free mass (note: fat-free mass or FFM is mainly muscle and bone). Translation: For the young men, they consumed about 350 mg while the old men consumed about 295 mg. (Therefore, the young men had more FFM than the old men).

They studied 10 older (65-80 yr) and 10 younger (19-26 yr) men who were moderate consumers of caffeine. Caffeine ingestion resulted in similar increases in both the old and young men for plasma caffeine levels; thus both young and old absorb caffeine equally well. Metabolic rate or energy expenditure increased similarly by 11% in young and 9.5% in the older men. According to the scientists, “older and younger men show a similar thermogenic response to caffeine ingestion…” (6) Bottom line: young and old can benefit from the thermogenic effect of caffeine.

Performance Enhancer

Known to fitness enthusiasts as well as Olympians, caffeine is the most versatile and effective ergogenic aid (i.e. something that enhances exercise performance).(12-32) A prominent exercise physiologist, David Costill, Ph.D., performed the ground-breaking study on caffeine and exercise 26 years ago! He took nine competitive cyclists (two females and seven males) and had them bike until exhaustion at 80% of V02 max.

(Note: V02 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, is a measure of how well your cardiopulmonary system functions).

Each subject consumed coffee containing 330 mg of caffeine 60 min before the exercise or a placebo (decaffeinated coffee). Following the ingestion of caffeine, the subjects were able to perform an average of 90 minutes of cycling as compared to an average of 76 minutes in the placebo trial. This reflects an 18% increase! They also found that subjects burned more fat (aka lipolysis) as shown by measurements of plasma free fatty acids, glycerol and respiratory exchange ratios. In fact, fat oxidation or burning was significantly higher (107% greater) during the caffeine trial (118 g or 1.31 g/min) than in the placebo trial (57 g or 0.75 g/min). Also, the perception of effort was much less in subjects after consuming subjects indicating that exercise felt easier.(32)


Don’t be fooled by the nonsense about caffeine being bad for your health. It is so far from reality that you need the Hubble telescope to see even a kernel of truth in it. Caffeine not only works, it’s one of the safest ingredients in existence. For instance, one study concluded that caffeine consumption is “not associated with adverse effects such as general toxicity, cardiovascular effects, effects on bone status and calcium balance (with consumption of adequate calcium), changes in adult behaviour, increased incidence of cancer and effects on male fertility.”(33) And a study published in May of 2006 found that no evidence that coffee consumption increases the risk of heart disease.(34)

Take home message:

  • Caffeine helps you burn fat.
  • Caffeine helps you lose weight or alleviate weight gain.
  • Caffeine improves athletic performance.
  • Caffeine improves brain function.

About the Author:

Juan and JA at NSCAJose Antonio is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.





Stuff You Should Read But Probably Won’t

1. A. P. Smith, R. Clark, J. Gallagher, Physiol Behav 67, 9-17 (Aug 1, 1999).

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14. M. M. Stine, R. J. O’Connor, B. R. Yatko, N. E. Grunberg, L. C. Klein, Hum Psychopharmacol 17, 361-7 (Oct, 2002).

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28. K. Collomp et al., Eur J Clin Pharmacol 40, 279-82 (1991).

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34. E. Lopez-Garcia et al., Circulation 113, 2045-53 (May 2, 2006).


Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me :)

By: Jose Antonio, PhD

Date Published: April 2011.

Sunshine On My Shoulders- John Denver (YouTube video)

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.

Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.

Sunshine almost always makes me high.

–          Lyrics by John Denver –


I’m not sure it makes me high, but damn it sure makes you feel good.  And part of the reason we need sun exposure is so that our bodies can make vitamin D (aka the ‘sun vitamin’).  For you old school music buffs, John Denver’s hit song from way back in the Jurassic period truly is prophetic with regards to the value of sun exposure.

Some scientists now believe vitamin D is the pre-eminent vitamin.  It does so many good things that to not supplement it would be akin to not taking a parachute when you go sky diving.  Not smart, eh.  We know for example that vitamin D deficiency is an increasingly described phenomenon worldwide, with dramatic effects on calcium metabolism and bone health. Vitamin D deficiencies have also been associated with a variety of not so good things. Things that make you want to curl up into a ball, pig out on donuts, and watch TiVo’d reruns of the Sopranos.  For instance, you might have a greater risk of bowel and colonic cancer, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

In recent decades, there has been increased awareness of the impact of vitamin D on muscle morphology and function; In the early part of 20th century, athletes and coaches felt that ultraviolet rays had a positive impact on athletic performance, and abracadabra, that’s why we love the sun. Well sort of.  The bikinis help too.

“Both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies allude to a functional role for vitamin D in muscle and more recently the discovery of the vitamin D receptor in muscle tissue provides a mechanistic understanding of the function of vitamin D within muscle.”(1)

Also, vitamin D supplementation has been shown to improve tests of muscle performance, reduce falls, and possibly impact on muscle fiber composition and morphology in vitamin D deficient older adults.(2)  Another study found that vitamin D was significantly associated with muscle power and force in adolescent girls.(3)

The bottom line is this: the RDA for vitamin D is paltry (200-600IUs daily); that would be like walking across the Sahara desert with bottle of Jack Daniels and expecting it to hydrate you for the long march.  Instead, get out in the sun! Expose your body at least 3 times per week to 30 minutes of good UV light.  And if you live in a cruddy place like Cleveland or Seattle where there are about as many sunny days as there are hairs on a bald man’s head, then supplement my friend.  Take at least 2000-4000IUs per day.


About the Author:

Jose_Antonio_head_shot_2Jose Antonio is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.






1. Hamilton B. Vitamin D and Human Skeletal Muscle. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2009.

2. Ceglia L. Vitamin D and its role in skeletal muscle. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2009;12:628-33.

3. Ward KA, Das G, Berry JL, et al. Vitamin D status and muscle function in post-menarchal adolescent girls. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:559-63.



Eggcellent Protein

By: Jose Antonio PhD
Date Published: April 2011.

Yes, eggs are indeed wonderful for your body and brain. We know the harmful effects of eggs have been completely overblown(1). In fact, one study showed that eating eggs more frequently, up to almost daily, was not associated with an increase in coronary heart disease incidence for middle-aged Japanese men and women(2).  And we know that egg yolk has two very important carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which have been shown to be great for eye health. But there’s also another ‘story’ to eggs. For instance, scientists have known that reduced brain serotonin function is involved in stress-related disturbances and may occur under conditions of chronic stress. We also know that serotonin production depends on the availability of tryptophan (TRP). Recently, an egg protein hydrolysate (EPH) was developed that showed a much greater effect on brain TRP availability than pure TRP and other TRP-food sources. So does that mean EPH might be effective for performance under stressful conditions? Scientists looked at the effects of EPH compared to placebo protein on plasma amino acids, stress coping and performance in subjects with high and low chronic stress “vulnerabilities”. In a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study, 17 volunteers with high and 18 participants with low chronic stress vulnerabilities were monitored for mood and performance under acute stress exposure either following intake of EPH or placebo.

And here is what they found. EPH significantly increased plasma TRP availability for uptake into the brain, decreased depressive mood in all subjects and improved perceptual-motor and vigilance performance only in low chronic stress-vulnerable subjects. The scientists in this study concluded that the acute use of a TRP-rich egg protein hydrolysate (EPH) is an effective way of increasing plasma TRP for uptake into the brain and therefore may be beneficial for perceptual-motor and vigilance performance in healthy volunteers(3).
So this benefits you because for one thing, EPH is an excellent protein source. Heck, whole eggs are a great food. But also, for those of you who are trying to get cut and lean, dropping calories, albeit temporarily is a strategy that you need to do. And to do that most effectively, you need to maintain optimal protein intake. For instance, a recent study looked 20 young healthy resistance-trained athletes were fed fewer calories (but with the same calories but one had higher protein and the other lower protein).

They discovered that about 2.3 grams of protein per kg of body weight or approximately 35% protein was significantly superior to approximately 1 gram per kg or approximately 15% energy protein for maintenance of lean body mass in young healthy athletes during short-term hypoenergetic weight loss(4).  For a 200 lb athlete, that is roughly equal to 209 grams of protein or about 35 eggs or 4-5 chicken breasts. So anytime you try to lose body fat or weight, just make sure to take out some carbs and jack up the protein. And while you’re at it, add an egg or two to your diet.

About the Author:

Jose Antonio is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.


  • Egg-cellent news for most, but not those with diabetes. The harmful effects of eggs were overblown, but the studies show that people with diabetes should still limit how many they eat. Harv Health Lett. Jul 2008;33(9):6.
  • Nakamura Y, Iso H, Kita Y, et al. Egg consumption, serum total cholesterol concentrations and coronary heart disease incidence: Japan Public Health Center-based prospective study. Br J Nutr. Nov 2006;96(5):921-928.
  • Markus CR, Verschoor E, Firk C, Kloek J, Gerhardt CC. Effect of tryptophan-rich egg protein hydrolysate on brain tryptophan availability, stress and performance. Clin Nutr. Feb 16. 2010.
  • Mettler S, Mitchell N, Tipton KD. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Feb;42(2):326-337. 2010.

Creatine and Kids

By: Jose Antonio PhD.
Date Published:
Autumn 2009

Walk around any mall in the heartland of America and you’ll find this common site.  Kids sitting at a brightly colored table in a Food Court peppered with all sorts of different fast foods.  Parents are more than willing to buy their kids French fries, donuts, fried chicken, cheeseburgers and other assorted not-so-good for you foods.  Let’s face it; it’s tough to get kids to eat salmon and broccoli right?  Nonetheless, it is socially acceptable to eat like sh#$ and therefore look like sh$%.  Though looking like sh$% seems to be less tolerated despite the fact that the two often go hand in hand.

However, the mere mention that kids should be consuming dietary supplements, in this case creatine, brings gasps of horror!  Creatine!  What about the kids?  Will it harm them?  Will their kidneys peeter out and die?  Egads!
Never has a supplement been studied so much yet misunderstood entirely by the general public.  Folks are often surprised to hear that creatine is naturally found in meats, especially fish.  So if you’re afraid of creatine, I’d suggest you avoid the sushi bar like a sailor avoids the confessional.  In a nutshell, creatine is probably the most studied dietary supplement in the history of mankind.  Out of the hundreds of studies performed on creatine, there is no evidence to show that it causes any harm.  In fact, there are studies in kids (even infants) showing no side effects.  So what are folks so scared?  Two reasons: they’re either idiots or they’re uninformed.   We fear what we don’t understand, right?

Background on Creatine

Creatine plays an important role in energy metabolism and is synthesized or made in the liver, kidney and pancreas. It is stored mainly in skeletal muscles, heart and brain.  There is scientific evidence which show a short and long-term therapeutic benefit of creatine supplementation in children and adults with gyrate atrophy (a result of the inborn error of metabolism with ornithine delta- aminotransferase activity), muscular dystrophy (facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, Becker dystrophy, Duchenne dystrophy and sarcoglycan deficient limb girdle muscular dystrophy), McArdle’s disease, Huntington’s disease and mitochondria-related diseases. Hypoxia and energy related brain pathologies (brain trauma, cerebral ischemia, prematurity) might benefit from creatine supplementation.(1)

Studies of Creatine in Kids

Creatine and Kids with Cancer
Nine children with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of cancer) in the maintenance phase of treatment on the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) protocol 2000-2001 were treated with creatine monohydrate (CrM) (0.1 g/kg/day; equal to 6.8 grams for a 150 lb person) for two sequential periods of 16 weeks (16 weeks treat > 6 weeks wash-out > 16 weeks treat). A cohort of 50 children who were receiving the same chemotherapy at the same time served as controls. Despite the long course of corticosteroid treatment for ALL, children showed significant increases in height, bone mineral density, and fat free mass (i.e. muscle) over approximately 38 weeks during the study. There was an increase in body mass index over time, but children taking CrM had a reduction, while the control group showed an increase in % body fat.  Thus, children with ALL treated with corticosteroids as part of a maintenance protocol of chemotherapy showed an increase in % body fat; however, those consuming CrM demonstrated lesser body fat accumulation.(2) No side effects were reported.

Creatine and Kids with Muscular Dystrophy
In another study, 30 boys with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystropy (DD) (50% were taking corticosteroids) completed a double-blind, randomized, cross-over trial with 4 months of CrM (about 0.10 g/kg/day), 6-week wash-out, and 4 months of placebo. Four months of CrM supplementation led to increases in fat free mass and handgrip strength in the dominant hand and a reduction in a marker of bone breakdown; furthermore, the supplement was well tolerated in children with this muscle disease.(3)

Creatine and Kids with Traumatic Brain Injury

In perhaps one of the more intriguing studies, creatine was given to kids with traumatic brain injury or TBI.  The effect of creatine was determined on 39 children and adolescents, aged between 1 to 18 years old, with TBI. The creatine was administered for 6 months, at a dose of 0.4 g/kg in an oral suspension form every day.  That’s a huge dose which is equal to 27 grams for a 150 lb person.  The administration of creatine to children with TBI improved results in several parameters, including duration of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), duration of intubation, intensive care unit (ICU) stay, disability, good recovery, self care, communication, locomotion, sociability, personality/behavior and neurophysical, and cognitive function. Significant improvement was recorded in the categories of Cognitive, personality/behavior, Self Care, and communication aspects in all patients. No side effects were seen because of creatine administration.  Thus, there is evidence that creatine supplementation is beneficial to pediatric patients with traumatic brain injury.(4)(5)

Creatine and Exercising Kids

Sixteen male fin swimmers (age:15.9 years) were randomly and evenly assigned to either a creatine (CR, 4×5 g/day creatine monohydrate for 5 days) or placebo group (P, same dose of a dextrose-ascorbic acid placebo) in a double-blind research. Before and after creatine supplementation, the average power output was determined by a Bosco-test and the swimming time was measured in two maximal 100 m fin swims. After five days of supplementation the average power of one minute continuous rebound jumps increased by 20.2%. The swimming time was significantly reduced in both first and second sessions of swimming in the CR group, but remained almost unchanged in the P group.  Thus, creatine supplementation enhances the dynamic strength and may increase anaerobic metabolism in the lower extremity muscles, and improves performance in consecutive maximal swims in highly trained adolescent fin swimmers.(6)  In another study, four weeks of creatine supplementation enhanced swim bench test performance.(7)

Creatine and Infants
According to researchers, hypoxic ventilatory depression in mice and muscle fatigue in adult humans are improved by creatine supplementation (CS).   However, a study in human infants found that creatine supplementation did not improve symptoms of apnea of prematurity in infants.  Interestingly though, no side effects were seen with creatine supplementation (equal to a 13.6 gram daily dose in a 150 lb person).(8) In an  interesting case report, scientists studied and treated an infant with an inborn deficiency of guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT). Long-term oral administration of creatine-monohydrate (4-8 g per day) to this patient resulted in substantial clinical improvement, disappearance of magnetic resonance (MRI) signal abnormalities in the globus pallidus, and normalisation of slow background activity on the electroencephalogram (EEG). During the 25-month treatment period, both brain and total body creatine concentrations became normal.  Accordingly, oral creatine replacement has proved to be effective in one child with an inborn error of GAMT. It may well be effective in the treatment of other disorders of creatine synthesis.(9)  It is interesting that a dose of 4-8 grams per day in an infant would be equal to over 100 grams daily in an adult.


Supplementation of kids of varying ages with creatine has been shown to improve exercise performance, promote recovery post traumatic brain injury, help infants with inborn errors of metabolism, and ameliorate body fat gain secondary to corticosteroid treatment.  No side effects are reported in these investigations.  Thus, the preponderance of the evidence clearly shows that creatine supplementation may indeed be beneficial for kids with no side effects.


About the Author:

Jose Antonio is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.


  1. Evangeliou A, Vasilaki K, Karagianni P, Nikolaidis N. Clinical applications of creatine supplementation on paediatrics. Curr Pharm Biotechnol 2009;10 (7):683-90.
  2. Bourgeois JM, Nagel K, Pearce E, Wright M, Barr RD, Tarnopolsky MA. Creatine monohydrate attenuates body fat accumulation in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia during maintenance chemotherapy. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2008;51 (2):183-7.
  3. Tarnopolsky MA, Mahoney DJ, Vajsar J, Rodriguez C, Doherty TJ, Roy BD, Biggar D. Creatine monohydrate enhances strength and body composition in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Neurology 2004;62 (10):1771-7.
  4. Sakellaris G, Kotsiou M, Tamiolaki M, Kalostos G, Tsapaki E, Spanaki M, Spilioti M, Charissis G, Evangeliou A. Prevention of complications related to traumatic brain injury in children and adolescents with creatine administration: an open label randomized pilot study. J Trauma 2006;61 (2):322-9.
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  8. Bohnhorst B, Geuting T, Peter CS, Dordelmann M, Wilken B, Poets CF. Randomized, controlled trial of oral creatine supplementation (not effective) for apnea of prematurity. Pediatrics 2004;113 (4):e303-7.
  9. Stockler S, Hanefeld F, Frahm J. Creatine replacement therapy in guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, a novel inborn error of metabolism. Lancet 1996;348 (9030):789-90.