Since then, there have been literally thousands of studies published on
creatine. However, most of the studies focusing on creatine and sports
performance have only been done since the early 1990s. It is these studies
that we will focus on in this book.
Who Can Benefit From Creatine?
Although the research on creatine and exercise performance is relatively
new, so far it appears that the greatest benefits occur in those sports
which involve short, intense bursts of energy. That is because these sports
rely most heavily on ATP as an energy source. Athletes in bodybuilding,
powerlifting, martial arts, sprinting, and track and field events such as
javelin and shot-put will greatly benefit due to greater strength. So would
wrestlers, swimmers, football, hockey, basketball and tennis players. We
doubt that creatine will be of any benefit for people who comfortably
cruise on a cart around the golf course and occasionally get up to putt.
Other sports where creatine is not likely to be of any significant benefit
include bowling, skeet shooting and certainly billiards.
It is still unclear whether athletes involved in endurance activities such
as marathon running or long-distance bicycling will benefit from creatine
supplementation. Stroud mentioned anecdotal reports that people in these
sports may benefit, although other studies show that creatine either does
not help or may actually be counterproductive. The difficulty in these
situations appears to center on the increased muscle mass which creatine
provides. While that's great if you're a bodybuilder or wrestler, it can be
a detriment if you have to carry all that weight around during a marathon
or triathlon. It becomes a tradeoff between the increased strength you get
from creatine and the increased muscle mass. Further research will provide
us with more definitive answers as to what role creatine can play in
90 And Still Pumping?
Older individuals with decreased muscle mass could also benefit from
creatine supplementation. Since creatine boosts strength and protein
synthesis, it should help to reduce the muscle wasting that can occur with
disease and the aging process. A new study by Earnest also shows that
creatine can reduce cholesterol and lipid levels in the blood, which would
be a major health benefit for everyone. Therefore, creatine may one day
help a large segment of the population to become more physically fit on the
inside and outside.
Is Creatine Safe?
Experiments with the administration of creatine to humans have been going
on for over a century. Dr. Paul Balsom of the Karolinska Institute in
Stockholm, Sweden, is one of the world's leading experts on creatine. He
states in a review article published in 1994 in Sports Medicine that "to
the best of our knowledge, the only documented adverse effect that has been
associated with creatine supplementation is an increase in body mass."
We suspect that most athletes will gladly accept this "adverse effect."
One caution we'd like to make is that the studies which used high dosages
of creatine, such as 20 grams per day, were only a month or less in
duration. As a result, we do not have controlled, scientific studies which
indicate exactly what happens to athletes taking large amounts of creatine
for many months or even years. The only long-term study on creatine to date
provided one gram per day to patients with gyrate atrophy, an eye disorder.
Sipila reported that creatine helped the condition. Therefore, we do not
yet fully know the consequences of high dose, long-term supplementation.