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Finish First Insider, Issue #42
January 22, 2009
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Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes.

Is Creatine Safe for Healthy Athletes and Does it Work?

By Coach J. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

At the gym lately, many athletes have been asking questions concerning creatine usage, performance enhancement, and safety. In response to these questions, I have done some deeper scientific research. Please read the information carefully so that you donít skip over any of the important details. (Remember, it is my goal to bring you evidence-based research, not what the big guy in the gym recommends just because he uses it!)

What is Creatine

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance used in energy production during short-term, explosive bouts of exercise (lasting up to 30 sec.) It is stored in skeletal muscle (95%) and in the heart, brain, and testes (5% collectively). On average, the human body uses 2 grams of creatine per day and is typically replaced through certain foods and amino acids (5). Anecdotal evidence suggests increases in muscle mass (hypertrophy), strength, power, and energy. Based on this evidence, creatine has become the most widely used and researched legal nutritional supplement available today. American football athletes, soccer athletes, bodybuilders, and US Navy Seals, are just of the few athletes whoíve admitted using oral creatine as a performance enhancing agent. (8).

Three Types of Creatine

There are currently three types of oral creatine supplements being sold in the US: creatine monohydrate, creatine Kre-alkalyn, and creatine ethyl ester. Since almost all peer reviewed creatine research has been done with the creatine monohydrate supplement form, all references moving forward will be addressed regarding oral creatine monohydrate usage.

Anecdotal Hub-blub

While there is much anecdotal research regarding creatine and its suggested performance enhancement benefits, there is also anecdotal evidence suggesting that creatine consumption may potentially cause adverse side effects such as muscle cramps, upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, liver dysfunction, kidney impairment, as well as additional long term (longitudinal) adverse effects yet to be determined (9).

Scientific Research Regarding Side Effects and Safety

Peer reviewed research (the gold standard) regarding potential adverse side effects of creatine usage is minimal. One study, conducted over 3 competitive athletic seasons (longitudinal) with male adult international professional basketball players showed that creatine supplementation, with a daily dosage of 5g/day, following a 5 day daily loading phase with dosages of 20g/day (normal dosages), did not produce abnormal side effects in hepatic and renal function, or muscle damage (12). Another scientific long term study showed that there were no differences found in normal markers of health status between Division 1A college athletes using normal dosages of creatine and Division 1A athletes not using any form of creatine supplementation (5). Studies have even been conducted examining the potential side effects of excess creatine consumption. Short term peer reviewed studies using healthy athletes and other healthy non-athlete individuals showed that excess creatine consumption produced no adverse changes in liver metabolism, and kidney function (normal urea production), nor did it produce any reported gastrointestinal discomfort or muscle cramps (8). One study showed that weight gain was also a side effect of creatine consumption. The study also found that muscle creatine levels may take 30 days or longer to return to baseline levels (10). This means that if a person experiences weight gain as a result of creatine supplementation, the personís weight would not return to normal for appromixately 30 days. This information is especially important for sports such as wrestling, power-lifting, mixed martial arts (MMA) and other combat sports where weight classes are established and athletes must weigh-in prior to competition.

Scientific Research Regarding Performance Enhancement

According to some scientific research, creatine consumption produces increases in mean anaerobic power output (during 20 sec. cycle sprints)(10), increases in muscle strength in both the barbell bench press and barbell back squat movements (in young men) (1), and improvements in sprint performance, vertical jump performance, and soccer specific skill performance in young athletes (7). Some studies have even shown performance enhancement characteristics from creatine usage in older women (age 58-71y) such as increases in strength, power, and lower-body functional performance (3). Similar results were found in older men (2) and healthy young men and women (11).

Evidence also exists that aerobic endurance performance does not improve with creatine usage (7). Furthermore, although most research shows that creatine supplementation produces increases in anaerobic power, nearly 30% of the studies report that there were no performance enhancing effects from its usage (5)(4).

Last Words of Advice

Lastly, scientific research shows evidence of no adverse side effects from normal creatine usage in healthy individuals, and shows evidence of performance enhancement in short burst activities, strength, power and some sport-specific skills in healthy athletes (1,2,3,7,10,11). Most research shows that in healthy individuals, no adverse side effects were documented as a result of normal creatine usage (8). Scientists recommend that although no adverse health risks have been documented with creatine usage, regular checkups to help detect any potential issues are advised. Two scientists, Poortmans and Francaux, suggest that persons with known disease or organ dysfunction do not use creatine without the consent of a medical doctor and that it is recommended to use creatine that has been tested for purity (9) (nutritional supplements in the US are not regulated for purity by a governing body).


1. Dempsey, R. L., Mazzone, M. F., & Meurer, L. N. (2002). Does oral creatine supplementation improve strength? A meta-analysis. The Journal of Family Practice, 51(11), 945-951. 2. Gotshalk LA, Volek JS, Staron RS, Denegar CR, Hagerman FC, & Kraemer WJ. (2002). Creatine supplementation improves muscular performance in older men. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34(3), 537-543.

3. Gotshalk, L. A., Kraemer, W. J., Mendonca, M. A. G., Vingren, J. L., Kenny, A. M., Spiering, B. A., et al. (2008). Creatine supplementation improves muscular performance in older women. European Journal of Applied Physiology, (102), 223-231.

4. Kinugasa, R., Akima, H., Ota, A., Ohta, A., Sugiura, K., & Kuno, S. (2004). Short-term creatine supplementation does not improve muscular activation or sprint performance in humans. European Journal of Applied Physiology, (91), 230-237.

5. Kreider, R. B., Melton, C., Rasmussen, C. J., Greenwood, M., Lancaster, S., Cantler, E. C., et al. (2003). Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, (244), 95-104.

6. Mesa, J. L. M., Ruiz, J. R., Gonzalez-Gross, M. M., Guiterrez Sainz, A., & Castillo Garzon, M. J. (2002). Oral creatine supplementation and skeletal muscle metabolism in physical exercise. Sports Med, 32(14), 903-944.

7. Ostojic, S. M. (2004). Creatine supplementation in young soccer players. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, (14), 95-103.

8. Poortmans, J. R., & Francaux, M. (2000). Adverse effects of creatine supplementation. fact or fiction? Sports Med, 30(3), 155-170.

9. Poortmans, J. R., & Francaux, M. (2006). Side effects of creatine supplementation in athletes. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, (1), 311-323.

10. Rawson, E. S., Persky, A. M., Price, T. B., & Clarkson, P. M. (2004). Effects of repeated creatine supplementation on muscle, plasma, and urine creatine levels. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(1), 162-167.

11. Reardon, T. F., Ruell, P. A., Fiatarone Singh, M. A., Thompson, C. H., & Rooney, K. B. (2006). Creatine supplementation does not ehnance submaximal aerobic training adaptations in healthy young men and women. European Journal of Applied Physiology, (98), 234-241.

12. Schroder, H., Terrados, N., & Tramullas, A. (2005). Risk assessment of the potential side effects of long-term creatine supplementation in team sport athletes. European Journal of Nutrition, 44(4), 255-261.

Motivational Sports Quotes

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.
-- Haywood Hale Broun

If you don't invest very much, then defeat doesn't hurt very much and winning is not very exciting.
-- Dick Vermeil

It doesn't matter if you try and try and try again, and fail. It does matter if you try and fail, and fail to try again.
-- Charles Kettering

How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it.
-- Jim Valvano

The Store is Now Open For Business!

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All for sale online!

Take a look at the logo apparel store.

Good Luck to Miss Pennsylvania

Please join me in wishing Finish First Sports Performance athlete and current Miss Pennsylvania, Ms. Kendria Perry, all the best at the upcoming Miss America pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 24th, 2009.

You can show your support by watching her on the world's stage on TLC. Check your local TV listings for times and specific channel information.

Break a leg, Kendria! (That's how you wish good luck in the pageant world!)

Finish First Sports Performance Becomes the Official Fitness Training Provider of the Miss PA Organization

Yes, it's official.

Finish First Sports Performance is the Fitness Training provider of the Miss Pennsylvania Organization. We are proud to be a part of such a great organization with a history of excellence and look forward to preparing future Miss PA's for their shot at the Miss America crown!

New Delivery Day for Finish First Insider

The Finish First Insider will be mailed to your email box on Mondays, instead of Fridays, beginning Feb. 2, 2009. Next week's newsletter will be in your mailbox Feb. 2. All subsequent newsletters will also be sent on Mondays.

Coming Soon

Finish First Sports Performance Discovery Days
Curious about what we do or what we can do for you? Attend one of our Discovery Day presentations and have all of your questions answered AND learn about preparing for sports success.

Summer Speed and Acceleration Camps

Sports Performance Seminars for Coaches, Parents, and Athletes

ATTENTION: Finish First Sports Performance Embroidered Hoodies


The Finish First Sports Performance embroidered logo Hoodies are expected to be delivered the week of February 4th, 2009. If you have ordered a Hoodie, you will need to pay before they are delivered. Please contact Jeremy about payment. (412)-787-5070

Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at Please visit for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance

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