In the previous article, we learned the evidence paints a mixed, but positive picture on whether creatine decreases muscle damage. The next question is, if creatine has a moderate ability to decrease muscle damage, can it also speed up the post exercise recovery period?
Fitness enthusiasts use protein supplements to increase performance gains. With interest in healthy lifestyles on the rise, many are searching for alternatives to animal products such as whey or casein proteins. Soy protein is an easy alternative as it's plant based and contains all of the essential amino acids. Resistance to soy protein is fierce due to its supposed association with pro-estrogenic and anti-anabolic effects.
There are quite a few supplements which claim to reduce muscle damage; creatine is one of them. The implications of this claim is quicker recovery, reduced soreness, and increased performance gains. There has been plenty of research conducted on whether or not creatine supplementation reduces muscle damage.
As consumers, we expect supplements to speed up recovery, burn fat, build muscle, and increase testosterone. The industry has seized on these high expectations and routinely make promises they are unable to keep. They have plenty of ways to market ineffective products to consumers seeking quick solutions. One of their favorite tricks: proprietary blends.
Few foods evoke greater emotion than soy. It elicits fears of decreased testosterone, less optimal strength, and feminization of masculine features. There's plenty of misinformation about soy. The truth is there are plenty of health and performance benefits to consuming soy protein with plenty of research to back it up.
In this series, we've learned creatine definitely increases strength and muscle mass. It accomplishes both by increasing the availability of ATP in muscle tissue, allowing you to workout at a higher intensity. This leads to both strength and size gains. If creatine increases workout intensity and promotes increases in muscle mass, it should also work to decrease body fat.
It's fairly clear that creatine monohydrate causes weight gain. For many, this is a benefit. Unfortunately, some of this quick weight gain comes from water and reverses once supplementation stops. Does creatine actually increase muscle mass or is it all just temporary body weight?
High intensity exercise is characterized by, "brief, intermittent bouts of vigorous exercise interspersed by periods of rest or low intensity activity." If the limiting factor of this activity is slow ATP synthesis, supplementing may show some improvement.
The research on creatine and cardio was at best, mixed. While cardio is long and low or moderate intensity, sprints are typically shorter and done at a much higher intensity. What we know about creatine means that it should be a perfect match for this short but high intensity type of exercise.
For longer exercise bouts, the body uses an aerobic energy pathway; this requires oxygen. This pathway creates a lot more ATP, but requires more time. This pathway is ideal for long endurance activities such as running, swimming, rowing, biking, or less intensive sports. The question is whether creatine plays a significant role in this energy pathway.