Creatine is a supplement used for anaerobic activities such as weight-lifting, football, and sprinting. It improves recovery from repeated bouts of hard training and promotes muscle growth, but does not appear to help endurance.
How it works
Creatine is one of the amino acids that make up protein in your body. It exists in muscles as creatine phosphaste, which is used to regenerate ATP, your primary energy source during intense exercise lasting around a half minute. As creatine phosphate becomes depleted, so does your energy stores.
Creatine works best for single sprints lasting six to 30 seconds and repetitive sprints with a 0.5 to 5 minute recovery. Repetitive sprint performance is enhanced 5-15% when the rests between sprints don't allow full recovery. (2)
Creatine doesn't help endurance athletes such as distance runners because their levels of ATP and creatine phosphate don't change during exercise. ATP is generated at the same rate it is used and therefore no deficit is accrued. (3)
The most common supplementation method consists of a five to six day period with 20g of creatine a day. (3)
Common Side Effects
Most people experience weight gain of one to four pounds. This could be a result of increase in water weight or muscle mass (or both). Other than weight gain, there are no documented side effects. Long term effects are unknown.