Is it possible to be too helpful?
Creatine: Only helpful in rare cases
What's behind the creatine advertisement?
"For more strength and mass" or "the all-rounder for muscle building and endurance sports": At first glance, creatine seems to be a safe means of building muscle for every athlete. On closer inspection it quickly becomes clear that you can only expect this effect under very specific conditions.
The substance seems to have an impact on athletic performance. However, the effect is very different and depends on the age, the type of sport, the fitness level and the dose. When supplementing with creatine z. B. Vegetarians expect a greater increase in the creatine content in the body, which can possibly lead to a somewhat greater increase in performance (in the area of muscle strength).
Creatine can lead to faster muscle growth and an increase in maximum strength. A creatine enrichment in the muscle delays fatigue during short-term and intensive exertion. This enables higher training intensities. However, the effect only occurs in around 50% of users. The muscle growth seems to occur particularly in the upper half of the body and the less it is, the more trained you are.
No increase in performance is to be expected in endurance sports. Improper use can affect your performance and health. For competitive athletes, regular health checks are recommended when taking creatine. Children and adolescents should completely refrain from taking it.
For athletes there are products with creatine two health claims approved by the European Union, i.e. health-related advertising claims that have been scientifically proven.
- It says "Creatine increases physical performance in high-speed strength training in the context of short-term, intense physical activity". However, it must be made clear on the product that it is only intended for adults who engage in intense physical activity. The product must deliver 3 g of creatine per day for the claim to be permissible. You must be informed on the packaging that the positive effect can only be achieved with this daily amount.
- The conditions for the second approved health claim are even more restricted. It is aimed at adults over 55 years of age. Only with at least three strength training sessions a week for several weeks at a certain intensity should the daily intake of 3 g creatine be able to increase the effect of strength training on muscle strength.
What should I look out for when using creatine products?
In dietary supplements, creatine is usually present as creatine monohydrate. The assessment of a possible increase in performance applies to this connection. In the case of creatine variations from malate, ester or pyruvate, no advantage over creatine monohydrate can be seen. It has not yet been possible to scientifically evaluate these compounds because the data are too limited.
Although creatine can have a performance-enhancing effect, this does not mean that every athlete benefits from taking it, nor that no undesirable effects can occur. If you consume creatine for a long time, for example, the production of this substance in your body will decrease.
Current studies from the USA show that short-term and long-term supplementation (up to 30 g / day for 5 years) is safe and well tolerated in adults. It is known, however, that excessive doses and poor dissolution of creatine powder can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Effects on other organs are also discussed. People with existing kidney problems or people with an increased risk of kidney diseases (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure) are not advised to consume food supplements with creatine.
Creatine is what causes muscles to draw water out of the body, so you should always make sure you are getting enough fluids. Body weight increases due to water retention in the muscle cells - especially if you are a runner, it is more of an unpleasant side effect. The pressure in the cells increases. This can increase your risk of injury.
When ordering via the Internet from unknown suppliers abroad, there is a risk that the preparations are contaminated with heavy metals or prohibited additives.
The Olympiastützpunkt Rheinland presents a special list on the Internet for athletes with dietary supplements that have been tested for prohibited substances.
What is creatine
Creatine is a carbon-nitrogen compound that is formed in the body in the liver and kidneys with the help of several amino acids. It plays a major role in the energy metabolism of the skeletal muscles, especially during short-term muscle work. Since the human body can produce creatine itself, it does not have to be ingested through food or pills.
Like in humans, creatine occurs in the muscle tissue of cattle, pigs and other animals. Fish and meat contain around 0.5 g creatine per 100 g food. There is a particularly large amount of creatine in high-quality meat parts with little connective tissue, such as fillet. So whoever eats meat and fish is taking additionally Creatine on.
Since creatine is formed in the body and can be absorbed through meat and fish, intake is not necessary.
When buying creatine supplements, please look for reliable sources.
Lanhers C et al. (2017): Creatine Supplementation and Upper Limb Strength Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 47 (1): 163-173
Kreider RB et al. (2017): International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine, J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 13; 14:18
DOSB: Dietary Supplements German Olympic Sports Confederation, 1st edition, Frankfurt am Main, June 2014
Olympic Base Rhineland: Cologne List
Regulation (EU) No. 432/2012 of the Commission of 16 May 2012 establishing a list of permissible health-related claims made on foods other than claims about reducing the risk of illness and the development and health of children (health claims), Annex: List of permissible health claims.
EFSA (2016): Creatine in combination with resistance training and improvement in muscle strength: evaluation of a health claim pursuant to Article 13 (5) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, EFSA Journal 14 (2): 4400
Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/672 of the Commission of April 7th, 2017 on the authorization of a health-related claim on foods other than claims about reducing the risk of disease and the development and health of children and amending Regulation (EU) No. 432/2012 attachment
Parr M K, Schmidtsdorff S, Kollmeier A S: Dietary supplements in sport - sense, nonsense or danger? Federal Health Gazette: 05.01.2017
Antidoping Foundation Switzerland: Supplement guide "Creatine" (2017)
Antidoping Foundation Switzerland: Supplement guide "Hot topic Vegetarian Diet in Sport" (2018)
Andres S et al. (2017): Creatine and creatine forms intended for sports nutrition. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 61 (6)
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