Free shipping from 40 euros

Ordered before 17:00 ordered, delivered the next day

Quality has with us priority

Shopping cart

Your shopping basket is empty

Continue shopping

Creatine Monohydrate: How Effective Is It?

Written by: Sebastian Fisher



Time to read 8 min

An In-Depth Look at the Science of Creatine Monohydrate

For several decades, creatine monohydrate has been at the center of numerous scientific discussions, particularly in the field of sports nutrition and muscle building. Revered by many and criticized by a few, creatine monohydrate has undergone more research than most dietary supplements on the market. However, despite its popularity, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about its uses, benefits, and possible side effects. In this article, we will review the scientific literature on creatine monohydrate, focusing on the concrete evidence provided by key studies.

The Basics: What is Creatine Monohydrate?

Produced naturally in the human body, mainly in the liver, creatine monohydrate is a substance essential to the process of energy release within cells. It plays a critical role in the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which our muscles use for rapid bursts of activity. The human body obtains creatine monohydrate from certain foods such as red meat and fish. However, the amount obtained from such sources is often insufficient for athletes or individuals engaged in intense physical activity, leading to the widespread adoption of creatine monohydrate supplementation.

Research Dive: Quantifying the Impact of Creatine Monohydrate on Muscle Growth

Rawson, ES, & Volek, JS (2003) - Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation and Resistance Training in Healthy Men

Study overview: This study, considered a milestone in creatine monohydrate research, involved 30 trained men who were divided into two different groups. One group received a daily dose of 5 grams of creatine monohydrate, while the other received a placebo. Both groups were subjected to a consistent and standardized resistance training schedule.

Findings: After a period of two months, the results were very clear. The group taking creatine monohydrate showed significant improvement in muscle mass and strength compared to their placebo counterparts. Notably, the creatine monohydrate supplemented group gained an average of 2-3 pounds more than the placebo group over this period.

Conclusion: The findings provided strong evidence for the role of creatine monohydrate in enhancing the effects of resistance training. It highlighted how creatine monohydrate supplementation can lead to tangible benefits in muscle growth and overall strength when combined with an appropriate exercise regimen.

Creatine monohydraat bicep

Vandenberghe, K., et al. (1997) – The Long-Term Effects of Creatine Monohydrate Intake and the Effects on Muscle Mass

Study overview: This study aimed to study the long-term effects of creatine monohydrate on muscle physiology. Over a 10-week period, participants were tasked with a combination of strength training and either creatine monohydrate supplementation or a placebo.

Findings: The results were nothing short of impressive. The group taking creatine monohydrate reported a 20% increase in their bench press strength. Furthermore, in terms of muscle protein synthesis, there was a 26% increase for those taking creatine monohydrate. Most notably, the participants taking creatine monohydrate experienced, on average, an increase in muscle mass of about 4,4 pounds (2 kg) more than the placebo group.

Conclusion: This study was pivotal in showing not only the short-term benefits of creatine monohydrate, but also the longer-term impact. It reinforced the position of creatine monohydrate as a valuable supplement for those who want to stimulate muscle growth in combination with resistance training.

These two studies, among countless others, began to set the stage for the undeniable role of creatine monohydrate in muscle physiology. However, it is essential to consider that while these studies provide insight into average results, individual experiences with creatine monohydrate may vary. Factors such as genetics, diet, exercise intensity and even the body's natural production of creatine monohydrate can affect results.

As we delve deeper into the nuances of creatine monohydrate research, it is crucial to approach the topic with an understanding of its multidimensional impact, considering both the physiological and biochemical consequences.

Beyond the Basics: Delving Deeper into the Mechanisms of Creatine Monohydrate

Now that we have a basic understanding of creatine monohydrate and its clear impact on muscle growth from previous research, it is pertinent to examine the mechanisms that make creatine monohydrate so effective and further research that helps clarify its wider benefits and potential concerns.

Creatine monohydraat

Mechanisms of Creatine Monohydrate in Muscle

Cellular Energy Stores and ATP: At the cellular level, the primary role of creatine monohydrate is to replenish ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the only fuel for muscle contraction. During near maximal intensive exercise, the ATP stores in the muscle will be depleted in less than 1 second. Therefore, ATP must be continuously resynthesized to maintain normal contractile function.

Without a direct source to replenish this energy currency, performance can decline. Creatine phosphate, the stored form of creatine monohydrate in our muscles, donates its phosphate to the depleted adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to quickly regenerate ATP. This ensures a constant energy supply during short, high-intensity activities.

Water Retention in Muscles: A remarkable direct effect of creatine monohydrate supplementation is an increase in the water content in the muscle cells. This phenomenon, often referred to as "cell volumization," can make muscles feel fuller. While some critics argue that this means the weight gain from creatine monohydrate is just "water weight," this intracellular hydration can boost protein synthesis and reduce protein breakdown, potentially leading to real muscle gains.

Further Research on the Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate

Earnest, CP, et al. (1995) - Effects of Creatine Monohydrate on Body Composition

Study overview: This study went beyond muscle strength and examined the impact of creatine monohydrate on overall body composition over a 28-day period in resistance training individuals.

Findings: The creatine monohydrate group, in addition to increased strength in squat and bench press exercises, showed muscle gains of about 2,2 pounds (1 kg) more than the placebo group. In addition, there was a reduced percentage of body fat in the creatine monohydrate group.

Conclusion: While most studies have focused on muscle strength, this study highlighted the role of creatine monohydrate in improving body composition, making it a potentially valuable resource for those aiming for increased muscle mass and a lower fat percentage.

Greenhaff, PL, et al. (1993) - Influence of Oral Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Muscle Torque

Study overview: This study aimed to understand the influence of creatine monohydrate on muscle strength during intermittent, high-intensity exercise.

Findings: Participants who supplemented with creatine monohydrate showed increased muscle strength after multiple sets of high-intensity contractions. This result was attributed to improved phosphocreatine recovery after each set.

Conclusion: For athletes, especially those involved in sports that require repetitive peaks of exertion (such as football or basketball), creatine monohydrate can significantly improve performance by supporting faster recovery between games.

Creatine Monohydrate Beyond Muscle: Cognitive and Neurological Benefits

A developing area of ​​interest is the potential role of creatine monohydrate in brain health. The brain, despite its relatively small size, is an energy-intensive organ. Since creatine monohydrate plays a critical role in energy metabolism, researchers have hypothesized that it might have neuroprotective benefits.

Rae, CD, et al. (2003) – Oral Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Improves Brain Performance

Study overview: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, researchers evaluated the impact of creatine monohydrate supplementation on cognitive tasks that were either time-dependent or cognitively demanding.

Findings: Creatine monohydrate supplementation led to improved performance on tasks that required fast and accurate processing. This was especially noticeable under sleep deprivation conditions.

Conclusion: In addition to muscle health, creatine monohydrate can serve as a valuable supplement to improve cognitive performance, especially under conditions of stress or sleep deprivation.

As we move forward in our exploration of creatine monohydrate, it is essential to recognize that its impact is not just limited to muscle. The broader benefits range from improved athletic performance to potential cognitive improvements. However, as with all supplements, it is vital to approach creatine monohydrate with knowledge, understand its nuances and recognize when and how to use it optimally.

Dosage: Considerations and Possible Side Effects 

While the benefits of creatine monohydrate are well established, the optimal dosage and potential side effects remain common topics of interest and debate, both among researchers and the general public.

Understanding the Loading Phase

Traditional Dosage: Traditionally, creatine monohydrate supplementation often begins with a "loading phase" of 20 grams per day (divided into 4 doses) for 5-7 days, followed by a "maintenance phase" of 3-5 grams per day. This approach quickly saturates the muscles, leading to quick benefits.

No Load Phase: Some recent studies suggest that a no-loading phase, where users simply consume 3-5 grams daily without the initial week of high dosing, can still achieve similar muscle creatine monohydrate saturation, albeit at a slightly slower rate.

Hultman, E., et al. (1996) – Creatine Monohydrate Loading in Men

Study overview: Researchers investigated the effects of different dosing protocols on creatine monohydrate levels in muscle.

Findings: Although the loading phase led to faster satiety, continuous low-dose supplementation achieved similar satiety levels over a month.

Conclusion: For those concerned about high doses of creatine monohydrate or possible side effects, a no-loading phase offers a viable alternative.

Side Effects and Considerations

Although creatine monohydrate is generally considered safe, possible side effects include:

Water Retention: As discussed, creatine monohydrate can increase water content in muscle cells, potentially leading to mild weight gain. However, this is often temporary and should not be confused with fat gain.

Digestive Problems: Some people may experience stomach cramps or diarrhea when taking large doses of creatine monohydrate. Dividing the dose or choosing a no-loading phase can reduce these effects.

Kidney problems: Historically, there have been concerns about the impact of creatine monohydrate on renal function, especially at large doses. However, multiple reviews and studies have shown no adverse effects on kidney health in healthy individuals. Always consult a doctor if you have any pre-existing health problems.

Creatine Monohydrate: Myths Debunked

Although the popularity of creatine monohydrate has led to a large amount of research, it has also given rise to myths. Here are some commonly held misconceptions debunked:

Creatine Monohydrate is Steroid: Contrary to some beliefs, creatine monohydrate is not an anabolic steroid. It is a naturally occurring compound found in foods such as red meat and fish and plays a role in energy metabolism.

Only works for Bodybuilders: The benefits of creatine monohydrate extend to everyone from athletes to the elderly. It improves cellular energy production, which is beneficial for various activities and even cognitive tasks.

Continuous Supplementation Leads to Dependence: The body does not stop producing creatine monohydrate when you take it as a supplement. Once supplementation stops, levels in the body simply return to baseline after several weeks.

Wrapping Up Thoughts on Creatine Monohydrate: A Powerful Ally With Limitless Potential

Over the past few decades, creatine monohydrate has been closely studied, with research consistently demonstrating its benefits. From increasing muscle strength and growth, improving cognitive performance, to potentially supporting brain health, creatine monohydrate is emerging as more than just a sports supplement.

For those looking to integrate creatine monohydrate into their routine, it is crucial to be informed. Understand the potential side effects, be aware of dosage considerations, and always consult a healthcare professional to ensure it aligns with individual health needs.

As research continues to grow in this area, creatine monohydrate's tremendous potential in both the sports and health arenas remains an exciting frontier, cementing its position as one of the most impressive and influential supplements around.

logo-paypal paypal