Creatine Expands its Credentials
Dwayne N. Jackson, PhD
Creatine has stood the test of time and maintained scientific prowess better than any other muscle-building supplement on the market. Synthesized from arginine, methionine, and glycine in the liver and found in high concentrations in meat and fish, creatine has been the #1 muscle-building supplement used by strength and power athletes for over 25 years! Creatine is rapidly taken up by skeletal muscle where it provides much-needed high-energy creatine phosphate to supply muscles with the substrates that form ATP (energy for contraction). In the end, elevated creatine stores in muscle endorse dramatic increases in strength and power during explosive and extended performances— with less time needed for rest.
Although its laundry list of science-backed benefits seems pretty comprehensive, recent research provides new evidence that creatine positively impacts vascular control and vascular growth; thus providing another mechanism by which creatine supports physiological adaptations that may improve performance. In this study, published in Nutrition Journal, 40 healthy and active males took a typical loading dose of creatine monohydrate, by ingesting 5g of creatine, 4 times throughout the day (20 g/day total), for 1 week. The researchers took blood, made anthropometric (body) measurements, and evaluated microvascular control (in skin) and microvascular density (number of capillaries).
It was reported that oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves systemic endothelial-dependent microvascular reactivity—-meaning that creatine loading promotes increased vasodilation and blood flow throughout the body. More remarkably, supplementation also modestly increased functional capillary density (i.e., improved the number of small blood vessels with blood flowing through them)—- which increases the exchange of nutrients and metabolites in active tissues. The “icing on the cake” was that blood pressure was also reduced after the supplementation.
ACTION POINT: The main caveat to this study is that vascular measurements were made in human skin. Although this may seem to limit the translation of the results to skeletal muscle and performance, the data presented are consistent with skeletal muscle adaptations generally noted with creatine supplementation.
Although creatine monohydrate dosing is body weight and tolerance dependent, a good starting point is to first complete a loading phase of 5g, 4 to 6 times per day for a week. After a week take 5 g 30 minutes before and immediately after training. On rest days take 5 grams with breakfast and 5 grams later in the day.
Moraes Rd, Van Bavel D, Moraes BS, Tibiriçá E. Effects of dietary creatine supplementation on systemic microvascular density and reactivity in healthy young adults. Nutr J. 2014 Dec 15;13(1):115.