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Creatine Loading

Powerlifting Bench Press

Muscle Creatine Loading Phase in Men

Hultman et al (1) examined the effects of  supplementation of creatine monohydrate on skeletal  muscle creatine accumulation and degradation and on  urinary creatinine excretion.  A total of 31 male  subjects participated in different dosage schemes over  different time periods.  Group 1 consisted of 6  subjects and ingested 20 g/day for 6 days;  muscle  creatine content was measured by biopsy on day 0, 7, 21,  and 35.  Group 2 had 9 subjects and ingested 20 g/day  for 6 days and then 2 g/day for 28 days;  muscle  creatine content was measured on day 0,7, 21, and 35.   Group 3 had 9 subjects and ingested 3 g/day for 28  days;  muscle creatine content was measured on day 0,  15, and 29.  Group 4 had 7 subjects and ingested a  placebo (20 g/day for 5 days);  urinary creatinine  excretion was measured at various intervals.  This  same group repeated this same experiment with creatine  supplementation.

FINDINGS:  For groups 1 and 2, there  were no significant changes in ATP concentration.  Both  groups had significant increases in muscle total creatine  content.  The majority of this increase was due to  increases in free creatine.  Combined data for  groups 1 and 2 also revealed significant increases in  muscle phosphocreatine and the phosphocreatine/ATP ratio  after the 6 day loading phase.  Group 2's levels of  free creatine remained significantly elevated after 35  days, but groups 1's levels had returned to baseline  levels.

Group 3 showed no significant changes in  ATP concentration.  After 28 days of supplementation,  group 3's total creatine levels had increased by a  similar amount as group 1 after 6 days of supplementation.

Group 4 showed greater urinary creatinine  excretion over the final 20 days of the study after  creatine ingestion when compared to ingestion of a  placebo.

IMPLICATIONS:  Ingesting creatine  monohydrate at 20 g/day for 6 days can increase muscle  free creatine, possibly enhancing recovery between short  bouts of high intensity exercise.  Once muscle  saturation is achieved after 6 days, only 2 g/day is  necessary to maintain saturated tissue levels of creatine.   After supplementation is halted, it takes  approximately a month for total creatine in muscle to  return to normal levels.

Individuals looking to save money can  achieve saturation within a month's time by ingesting  only 3 g/day.

1. Hultman, E., K. Soderlund, J.A.  Timmons, G. Cederblad, and P.L. Greenhaff.  Muscle  creatine loading in men.  J. Appl. Physiol.   81(1):232-237.  1996.

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