Tag Archives: creatine

Useful Idiots

By: Jose Antonio PhD.
Date Published:
Summer 2009

Vladimir Lenin is supposed to have referred to blind defenders and apologists for the former Soviet Union in the Western democracies as “useful idiots” according to noted economist Dr. Thomas Sowell. I guess when the Soviet Union crumbled, these useful idiots scattered like cockroaches when the lights turned on. Nowadays the term “useful idiots” is often used to describe individuals or groups who are so beholden to a blatantly moronic idea, that it only helps those who hold opposing viewpoints. For instance, if you’re the president of the flat earth society, you’re clearly a “useful idiot” for those who believe the Earth is an oval object. Where am I headed with this? Follow me grasshopper.

In what is perhaps the most idiotic story I’ve read in a long time (reference: Father, son say supplement is legal (http://www.vindy.com/news/2009/feb/11/father-son-say-supplement-is-legal/?print ) author: William k. Alcorn; Wednesday, February 11, 2009), a 15-year-old Struthers High School football player (in the Buckeye state; that’s Ohio for my Canadian friends) was suspended for possession of….drum roll please….cocaine? No. Mmm….marijuana? Guess again. Creatine? Bingo my friend. Yes, suspended for possession of creatine. If you’re scratching your head too, join the rest of us who have a modicum of common sense and actually know what creatine is. According to the news story, “School’s Superintendent Robert Rostan said he would not discuss the case of a specific student. But, he did say there is a sign in the school weight training room listing banned substances, which includes creatine.” Another doozy of a quote from the story was from John Patrick, strength and conditioning coach for the Youngstown State University football team. He said “the use of creatine is not banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. However, he said, as a personal choice the YSU staff does not distribute creatine to its players. He said there are less expensive products that are as effective.” Which products are as effective and less expensive? Beats me. The story goes on to say that the boy’s father, Burke Sr. said his wife, Gina, went to the high school to find out about their son’s suspension and ended up being yelled at by Joseph Fuline, associate high school principal. While his wife was at the school, Burke Sr. said he talked on the telephone to Fuline and he (Fuline) yelled at him too. “I asked what rule my son broke. I said it [creatine] was just like vitamins, and Mr. Fuline said: ‘I’m considering this stuff [creatine] just like cocaine.”

Okay, as you can see, useful idiots abound. But the true winner, err loser, in this is the associate high school principal who likens creatine to cocaine. COCAINE? Has this person bothered to read the hundreds of studies on creatine? If he hasn’t here’s a start. One study looked at the clinical benefit after creatine administration in children and adolescents. Thirty-nine children and adolescents, aged between 1 and 18 years of age, with TBI or traumatic brain injury were studied. Did you read that carefully? Between 1 year and 18 years of age. Creatine was administered for 6 months, at a dose of 0.4 g/kg in an oral suspension form every day. For a 100 lb individual, that equals 18 grams daily. A whopper of a dose. They discovered that creatine consumption in children and adolescents with TBI improved results in several parameters, including duration of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), duration of intubation, intensive care unit stay. Significant improvement was recorded in the categories of headache, dizziness and fatigue, aspects in all patients. And most importantly, no side effects were seen due to creatine administration.(1)

Another study found that four months of creatine supplementation led to increases in fat free mass and handgrip strength in the dominant hand and a reduction in a marker of bone breakdown and was well tolerated in children with muscular dystrophy.(2) So according to the evidence, creatine (even in high doses) is well tolerated in children.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition recently published a position paper on creatine.(3) In fact, the beauty of this position paper is that the ISSN, the only academic non-profit dedicated to promoting the science of sports nutrition, uses this really cool device known as ‘scientific evidence’ to make its conclusions. You know, ‘science.’ It’s that powerful way of thinking that has come up with cures for diseases, put men on the moon, come up with new ways to blow up objects, and even resulted in the invention of instant replay in the NFL. I’m telling you. Science is super cool.

Back to the position paper, here’s a nice little summary for those with short attention spans.

  1. Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.
  2. Creatine monohydrate supplementation is not only safe, but possibly beneficial in regard to preventing injury and/or management of select medical conditions when taken within re commended guidelines.
  3. There is no scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects on otherwise healthy individuals.
  4. If proper precautions and supervision are provided, supplementation in young athletes is acceptable and may provide a nutritional alternative to potentially dangerous anabolic drugs.
  5. At present, creatine monohydrate is the most extensively studied and clinically effective form of creatine for use in nutritional supplements in terms of muscle uptake and ability to increase high-intensity exercise capacity.
  6. The addition of carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein to a creatine supplement appears to increase muscular retention of creatine, although the effect on performance measures may not be greater than using creatine monohydrate alone.
  7. The quickest method of increasing muscle creatine stores appears to be to consume ~0.3 grams/kg/day of creatine monohydrate for at least 3 days followed by 3–5 g/d thereafter to maintain elevated stores. Ingesting smaller amounts of creatine monohydrate (e.g., 2–3 g/d) will increase muscle creatine stores over a 3–4 week period, however, the performance effects of this method of supplementation are less supported.
  8. Creatine products are readily available as a dietary supplement and are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Specifically, in 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). DSHEA allows manufacturers/companies/brands to make structure-function claims; however, the law strictly prohibits disease claims for dietary supplements.
  9. Creatine monohydrate has been reported to have a number of potentially beneficial uses in several clinical populations, and further research is warranted in these areas.

Holy smokes batman, I think the ISSN forgot to add #10. Creatine is like Cocaine.

The funny (as in ironic or perhaps as in haha) part of this idiotic suspension is that creatine is present in meats, especially fish. I can see it now at Struthers High School. Football players, instead of smuggling in creatine as white powder (ooo…that’s so Miami Vice-ish), they instead sneak it in as big slabs of beef or worse, a big ole fish. Here’s what a conversation might sound like when the creatine police catch another unsuspecting high school kid who just wants to gain muscle and strength.

The creatine police: “Son, stop right there! I have reason to believe that you are in possession of an illegal substance, CREATINE.”

Unsuspecting high school student: “But Mr. Creatine policeman [he really wants to call him a cretin but that will likely up the possible suspension], I swear, I don’t have any creatine on me.”

The creatine police: “I smell something fishy. Open your book bag.”

Unsuspecting high school student: “Oh golly geez, okay.” He proceeds to open it revealing a big ole herring (which is full of creatine).

The creatine police: “Son, you are now in my custody and will be going to the principal’s office for possession of creatine.”

Unsuspecting high school student: “But sir, creatine is stored naturally in your body. Even you have creatine in your muscles, brain and other important organs.”

The creatine police: “Don’t you start going scientific on me son; this stuff is from the devil.”

What’s the moral of the story? Vladimir Lenin is smiling in his grave.


  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 2008;97:31-4.
  2. Tarnopolsky MA, Mahoney DJ, Vajsar J, et al. Creatine monohydrate enhances strength and body composition in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Neurology 2004;62:1771-7.
  3. Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2007;4:6.

Creatine – The Greatest Of All Time

By: Jose Antonio, PhD, FISSN, FACSM, FNSCA
Date Published:
Spring 2009

So said Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali, about himself of course.  Creatine can rightly make the same claim. Why? Because like Bruce Lee, creatine can very easily kick every other supplement’s proverbial ass based on safety, efficacy, and science.(1-21)

Performance Boost for Muscle Men

Unless you’ve been handcuffed to a chair and forced to watch re-runs on the View channel, then you probably know that supplementing with creatine can make you bigger and stronger. In a thorough scientific review published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, they looked at 22 published studies; the average increase in muscle strength vi following creatine supplementation plus resistance training was 8% greater than the average increase in muscle strength following placebo ingestion during resistance training (20 vs. 12%). Also, the average increase in weightlifting performance (maximal repetitions at a given percent of maximal strength) following creatine supplementation plus resistance training was 14% greater than the average increase in weightlifting performance following placebo ingestion during resistance training (26 vs. 12%). The increase in bench press 1RM ranged from 3 to 45%, and the improvement in weightlifting performance in the bench press ranged from 16 to 43%. So if you want to get stronger and bigger, take creatine.(22)

Creatine as Brain Food!

In one study, scientists tested the hypothesis that oral creatine supplementation 5 grams daily for six weeks would enhance intelligence test scores and working memory performance in 45 young adult, vegetarian subjects in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design. And guess what? Creatine supplementation had a significant positive effect on both working memory (backward digit span) and intelligence (Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices), both tasks that require speed of processing.(23) Another study revealed a significant effect of creatine supplementation on all tasks except backward number recall. It was concluded that creatine supplementation aids cognition in the elderly.(18)

Creatine as a health food?

Believe it or not Mr. Ripley, creatine supplementation has clinical benefits. Doctors take note!  Creatine supplementation has neuroprotective effects in neurological diseases such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.(24) Jeff Stout, Ph.D. of Florida Atlantic University found that 5 grams of creatine supplementation daily coupled with resistance training (3 x per week for 15 weeks) improved physical function in a 26 year old man with myasthenia gravis. This man had a 7%  increase in body weight, 4% increase in fat free mass, and improved peak strength up to 37%!(14) Another investigation found that creatine supplementation improves skeletal muscle function in patients with McArdle disease.(25)

Creatine – is it better in meat form?

Red meat and fish contain about 2 to 5 grams of creatine per pound. But is the stuff absorbed well? Or is it better to just buy the powder, mix it with juice and swig it like it’s your 10th shot of tequila? Let’s see what the good doctor has to say. Roger Harris, perhaps the pre-eminent scientist in the field of creatine research, compared the effects of consuming 2 grams of creatine in 250-300ml of cold water versus 2 grams of creatine obtained from 0.9 lbs. of meat.  They found that the 2 grams of creatine in solution caused a quicker and greater rise in blood creatine levels but a quicker drop also. On the other hand, eating meat caused a less dramatic rise but the increase was sustained for a longer period of time. In fact, when they compared the net increase in blood creatine, there was NO difference! Does this mean anything? Well, maybe. The next step is to see if these different absorption patterns result in different uptake into skeletal muscle fibers. I mean let’s face it, who gives a rat’s ass how much gets into your blood; it needs to get into skeletal muscle! My advice: Eat lean sources of meat frequently and take 1 tsp of creatine daily. Harris

Creatine and Parkinson’s

Persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD) exhibit decreased muscular fitness including decreased muscle mass, muscle strength, and increased fatigability. Twenty patients with idiopathic PD were randomized to receive creatine monohydrate supplementation plus resistance training (CRE) or placebo (lactose monohydrate) plus resistance training (PLA), using a double-blind procedure. Creatine and placebo supplementation consisted of 20g/d for the first 5 days and 5g/d thereafter.  Both groups participated in progressive resistance training (24 sessions, 2 times per week, 1 set of 8-12 repetitions, 9 exercises). They discovered that chest press strength and biceps curl strength improvement was significantly greater for the creatine supplemented group.(27) So for all you knuckleheads who think creatine is so harmful, why in hell would you give it to a PD patient if it were so bad?

Safety data

A recent study found “the decrease in cystatin C indicates that high-dose creatine supplementation over 3 months does not provoke any renal dysfunction in healthy males undergoing aerobic training. In addition, the results suggest that moderate aerobic training per se may improve renal function.”(15)
Short term (5 days), medium term (9 weeks) and long term (up to 5 years) oral creatine supplementation has been studied in small cohorts of athletes whose kidney function was monitored and scientists did not find any adverse effects on renal function.(28) Richard Kreider, Ph.D. the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition completed a study in which he examined, over a 21-month period, 98 Division IA college football players who consumed in an open label manner creatine or non-creatine containing supplements following training sessions. Subjects who ingested creatine were administered 15.75g/day of creatine monohydrate for five days and an average of 5g/day thereafter in 5-10g/day doses. What did he find? Nada darn thing. According to his study, “long-term creatine supplementation (up to 21-months) does not appear to adversely effect markers of health status in athletes undergoing intense training in comparison to athletes who do not take creatine.”(29)

Responders versus Non-Responders

If you go through the scientific literature and talk to athletes, you’ll find that there is a minority of individuals who get no benefit from creatine. That’s not surprising. For instance, no drug works for everyone. Individual responses should be expected. A study examined this very question. This study indicated that there were three levels of response to five days of creatine loading: responders, quasi responders, and nonresponders. Responders had the lowest initial levels of creatine and phosphocreatine, greatest percentage of type II fibers or fast twitch fibers, and the greatest preload muscle fiber CSA and fat-free mass. Responders also showed improvement in 1RM leg press scores following the five-day loading period. NR had higher preload levels of Cr + PCr, less type II or fast twitch muscle fibers, small preload muscle CSA, and lower fat-free mass and had no improvements in 1RM strength scores. Thus, getting an ergogenic effect from creatine favors those with more fast-twitch muscle fibers, muscle mass, muscle fiber size, and have initially lower levels of intramuscular creatine and phosphocreatine.(30)

Creatine monohydrate versus Creatine Ethyl Ester

And the winner is? Creatine monohydrate! According to recently published research in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,(31) “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. Therefore, the improvements in these variables can most likely be attributed to the training protocol itself, rather than the supplementation regimen.”

The Moral of the Story:

•    Creatine enhances athletic performance in the strength-power sports.
•    Creatine promotes gains in lean body mass and muscle fiber hypertrophy (growth).
•    Creatine may help neuromuscular function in those with various metabolic diseases.
•    Creatine may improve memory and assist various neural functions.
•    Creatine has long-term safety data.
•    Creatine works, period.
•    For a comprehensive look at creatine, download ISSN’s Position Stand on Creatine. (www.jissn.com)(32)


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  2. Volek JS, Mazzetti SA, Farquhar WB, Barnes BR, Gomez AL, Kraemer WJ. Physiological responses to short-term exercise in the heat after creatine loading. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001;33:1101-8.
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  14. Stout JR, Eckerson JM, May E, Coulter C, Bradley-Popovich GE. Effects of resistance exercise and creatine supplementation on myasthenia gravis: a case study. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001;33:869-72.
  15. Gualano B, Ugrinowitsch C, Novaes RB, et al. Effects of creatine supplementation on renal function: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Appl Physiol 2008.
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