Creatine Supplements Help with Fatigue
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound synthesized from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. It is found in meat and fish and can be synthesized by humans in the liver and pancreas. Creatine’s ability to increase strength by helping maintain levels of the body’s energy unit (called ATP) has resulted in as much as 75% of athletes having reported using creatine to help both athletic performance and recovery. As a body builder I have know this for over 15 years.
Research has found the health benefits of creatine to extend from lung health to muscle health. Now a new study has found that creatine may help with fatigue even in the absence of weight gain.
In the study, 20 healthy men and women with an average age of 21 years were given either creatine (30 mg per kg of bodyweight = ~2.3 grams per day across all of the patients) or placebo for 6 weeks. During this time, they were weighed and had their body fat tested. They also provided blood samples and performed strength tests to measure for both maximal strength and muscle fatigue. The maximal strength test consisted of a 3-repetition maximal knee extension test, while muscle fatigue was measured with 5 sets of 30 knee extensions.
The researchers found that while there were no signiﬁcant differences between the 2 groups in body mass, fat-free mass, fat mass, body fat percentage, total body water, or maximal strength at the end of the study, those in the creatine group demonstrated greater resistance to fatigue. Specifically, compared with the fatigue tests before the study, those in the creatine group had more patients who were more resistant to fatigue (thereby performing more repetitions. Those in the placebo group had “no improvement” in fatigue resistance . When they looked at blood levels of creatine, those in the creatine group had a 182% increase while no increase was seen in the placebo group.
So how would this equate to more muscle, well being able to resist fatigue longer will allow one to train harder, longer, faster. This is in turn does more muscle damage and that in turn allows for muscle fiber repair, which in turn results in larger muscles.
For the researchers, “Ingesting a low dose (~2.3 grams/day) of creatine for 6 weeks signiﬁcantly increased [blood levels of creatine] and enhanced resistance to fatigue during repeated bouts of high-intensity contractions.” When it comes to creatine dosing, there are currently two different approaches. In the ﬁrst method, a ‘‘loading’’ dose of creatine, usually about 20 to 25 g/d (300 mg per kg of bodyweight per day), for 5 t o 7 days is ingested followed by the 30 mg/kg/day. In the second method, there is no “loading phase” but instead just the lower doses of creatine, usually about 2 to 5 grams per day.