The Science of Gains: Supplementing with Creatine
Creatine just might be the worlds most popular supplement, but is it worth its weight? Scientific research and practical results say so. For the performance athlete, creatine is almost unparalleled in efficacy when it comes to short-range bursts of high energy for the power athlete.
Although CrossFit may still be considered a largely aerobic sport, the benefits of creatine to your daily WOD are sure to help you set PR’s and improve your times. How? We’ll tell you…
Creatine is naturally produced from amino acids in the body via the kidney and liver and can also be found in some foods, mostly meats, eggs and fish. This organic acid was first identified in the 1800’s but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that Soviet researchers found that supplementing with creatine may improve the performance of athletes. Over the course of the decades following, creatine quickly became a popular way to naturally enhance performance and form lean body mass.
Creatine works in the body as a fuel source for adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. This three-phosphate group is responsible for supplying immediate energy in short bursts of power by releasing creatine phosphate to strengthen the muscular contractions needed for such forceful activity, after which it becomes adenosine diphosphate (“di” meaning two). Supplementing with creatine can more quickly regenerate ATP for prolonged energy production and repeated actions in sport or exercise, thus allowing higher rates of performance or gains in strength.
As mentioned before, CrossFit requires a lot of aerobic capacity and the game is largely that of pacing, however, none would call it an endurance sport or fitness regiment either. Those Tabata intervals, that 1-rep max clean and jerk, those box jump cycles and big sets of wallball shots all require a lot of energy, much of which are generated by ATP and will largely benefit by having supplemental creatine available for regeneration.
Although the benefits for performance are obviously desirable to the athlete, there are some other notable benefits of creatine as well. Markers of fatigue and cell damage have been shown to be reduced by those supplementing with creatine, mitigating muscle damage and inflammation associated with exhaustive exercise. Creatine has also been shown to protect the central nervous system by enhancing the brains ability to withstand both metabolic and physical trauma. Supplementing with creatine has even been shown through scientific research to improve short term memory and mental acuity.
Although there are many forms of creatine available in the supplement market, creatine monohydrate is the most extensively studied, reliable and also cheapest form available.
If performance and power is your game, you simply can’t afford to skip the incredible benefits of creatine. Even if you don’t plan to win the CrossFit Games or even to be the fittest at your box, your own physical and mental wellness will thank you as you work to build the best possible you and accomplish all those things you’ve dreamed of.
Sarah Loogman is a trainer and athlete of Northstate CrossFit in Redding, Ca. With a strong athletic background in collegiate sports, Sarah transitioned to CrossFit in 2013 and has since been familiar to the podium in fitness events such as Femme Fit and Northstate’s Fittest, among others. Sarah competed in the California ‘Super’ Regional in San Diego in 2015 with the Northstate team and is hopeful to qualify among California’s top women in 2016. You can find Sarah on Instagram at @sarahloogman.
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