L-creatine works. The athletes that take it as a supplement know this as well as the companies that design and sell the product. It is generally bought in fruit-flavoured powder form, although capsules are available, and it works by increasing the body’s ability to produce energy quickly.
L-creatine is therefore the most popular amino acid used by strength athletes, body-builders and regular gym members. Research shows that 40% of all athletes who use strength training in their schedules also use L-creatine as an additional supplement although it occurs naturally in foods like meat and fish and is produced in small doses by the liver and stored in muscle cells.
It promotes muscle growth, increases strength and power and can increase the time to exhaustion among a host of other benefits. It is a particularly effective supplement when you are carrying out a high-intensity training session and also for sports that use short bursts of energy.
As well as wanting to know how much L-creatine should be consumed for various types of workouts, athletes who train for strength also often ask: is it more effective to take L-creatine before or after training to help build more muscle mass?
Jose Antonio and Victoria Ciccone, two scientists in the United States of America, have applied themselves to this question and devised a study programme in which they worked with 19 young athletes, measuring the effects of taking 5 grams of L-creatine before or after a workout. The supplements were taken blind and the exercise routines were the same for all athletes with comparative measurements taken before, during and after the four week trial
Training sessions during the four week trial occurred on five days with athletes also taking creatine on non-training days as and when they wanted. Antonio and Ciccone discovered that after just four weeks of training, those athletes who took the creatine supplement after training had an average of 1.1 kg more fat-free body mass than those who took the it before their training sessions. In addition, the athletes that used the L-creatine supplement before their training were out-performing their colleagues on the bench press.
Interestingly, L-creatine has also been shown to maintain muscle mass in older people without intense weight training. Muscle-atrophy (natural decrease in muscle mass with increasing age) is a common problem for older people and amino acids like L-creatine and L-leucine have been shown to slow this wastage down.
- “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition “The effects of pre versus post-workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength” 2013, 10:36 doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-36″ ↩