Sports Supplement Q&A: Is Creatine Overrated?

Question: My personal trainer says creatine is overrated and that you can get just as good results by training hard and taking a multivitamin. What do you think? 

Answer: I think your personal trainer’s an idiot. If there’s one supplement that has lived up to the hype and then some, it’s creatine monohydrate. And those aren’t just my sentiments.

Recently, creatine researchers Paul Greenhaff, Ph.D., Mark Tarnopolsky, M.D., Ph.D., and Ronald Terjung, Ph.D., FACSM, joined nine other authorities on creatine supplementation in a roundtable discussion commissioned by the American College of Sports Medicine. The experts addressed questions related to biochemical, physiological, exercise performance and potential health effects as well as clinical applications of creatine supplementation.

The panelists were unanimous in their agreement that short-term creatine supplementation of around 20 grams per day for 5 to 7 days can lead to improved exercise performance. Write the panelists, “Most of the studies indicate that creatine supplementation significantly enhances the ability to produce higher muscular force and/or power output during short bouts of maximal exercise in healthy, young adults.”

Baylor University researcher Dr. Richard Kreider, concurs, writing in a recent review of the scientific literature, “Numerous studies have examined the effects of short-term creatine supplementation (5 to 7 days) on exercise performance. The majority of initial studies suggested that creatine supplementation can significantly increase strength, power, sprint performance and/or work performed during multiple sets of maximal-effort muscle contractions. More recent studies have supported these observations.”