Published: 11/20/2005 - Updated: 05/18/2016
An enormous number of substances, nutritional or not, are used as ergogenic aids. Most lack a high scientific basis for its supposed efficacy sustained in folklore and consumer ignorance. Creatine monohydrate has become one of the world's most popular supplements among individuals interested in the development of body and muscle mass.
Ergogenic aids (Greek ergon meaning work) theoretically allow the individual to perform more physical work than would be possible without them. (Wootton, 1988). Ergogenesis term means power production, whether a particular manipulation performance improvement through the energy production, and is known as reduced ergogenic. Therefore, an ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance. Ergolitic substance is one that has a detrimental effect on performance. (Wilmore and Costill, 1999).
The term ergogenic aids is generally used in a wider context than that of pure nutritional and pharmacological manipulations. We identify at least five categories (Gonzalez , 1998):
- Mechanical aids such as slippers, tights and belts.
- Psychological aids as hypnosis or psychotherapy.
- Physiological aids and blood doping.
- Pharmacological aids, such as caffeine or various antioxidants.
- Nutritional aids as carbohydrates or creatine.
The list of potential ergogenic aids is long, but the number of which actually possess these properties is much lower. Some athletes are hoping to experiment with substances improvements regardless of possible consequences and harmful side effects.
The use of nutritional supplements is aimed at achieving various objectives, among which we can highlight the following:
- Prolonged activities between workouts.
- Accelerating the recovery process.
- Hydropower regulation and thermoregulation.
- Correction of body mass.
- Guiding the development of muscle mass.
- Reducing the volume of the daily ration during the competition.
- Qualitative Orientation pre-contest in diet.
- For conditions of high stress.
At this point, we must emphasize that the use of creatine, which is currently marketed in the form of creatine monohydrate, is not considered doping. International experts that secure the hard boundary between the permitted products (such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrate supplements, etc. . ) and forbidden (especially steroids and stimulants) have determined that creatine is among those admitted.
Creatine supplementation is not banned by any official agency and, at least to date, it will have no side effects whatsoever that might contraindicate the diet supplementation as an ergogenic aid - in any case, weight gain by increasing muscle mass, something not desirable in endurance sports such as marathon or road race - (Lucia, 1996 ) .
Most studies agree in showing an increase in performance, consuming high doses of creatine (20 to 30 g per day for at least 4-5 days), high-intensity exercise, especially if it is an interval type exercise (several repetitions of short duration with high intensity) ( Balsom et al . , 1993, Harris et al. , 1993; Earnest et al . , 1994; Greenhaff et al . , 1993).
Creatine plays a vital role in the resynthesis of adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine, providing energy for skeletal muscle contraction. The oral administration of creatine increases these levels in muscle. During the last decade and especially in the last year, creatine has assumed a prominent role as an ergogenic aid for elite professional athletes (Feldman , 1999).
Actually, at present, we lack sufficient information to know the possible effects of creatine supplementation on exercise performance of longer duration , although Balson et al . ( 1993 ) found no significant effect of creatine on endurance exercise . (Lucia , 1996).
Effects of creatine
Recent studies suggest that oral supplementation of creatine monohydrate increases muscle creatine content by 20 %, and of this about 20% is in the form of phosphocreatine. If supplementation during submaximal exercise is carried further, uptake is stimulated. (Gonzalez and Villa , 1998).
The main advantages we can get from systematic intake of creatine in appropriate dosages depending on the subject and your sport are related to the following effects and utilities:
- Fatigue retardant
- Mass and strength increase
- Muscle recovery
- Improving the ability to withstand anaerobic exercise
Anyone can claim that a substance is ergogenic, but before considering it as such, must be shown that the substance improves performance. Scientific studies in this area are critical to differentiate between a true response, which improves performance because the athlete expected an improvement. (Wilmore & Costill , op. Cit.).
The objective of this review was to clarify the controversial world of ergogenic aids, focused on creatine supplementation. From the above we can obtain some conclusions about the use of creatine by athletes:
The difficulty of access to scientific literature for those who work with athletes (coaches, trainers, etc. . ) promotes the proliferation and dissemination of trade literature, in some cases without scientific foundation and other tendentious purposes according to commercial interests.
Before considering as ergogenic effect, it is absolutely necessary scientific studies properly designed performance tasks. It is necessary to determine whether ergogenic aids actually work as such and it is also necessary to assess the potential impact on the health of athletes. ( González , op. Cit.).
Although research on the likely ergogenic aid are creatine "in its infancy", scientific studies have shown that creatine supplementation improves physical performance and can be considered as a significant ergogenic aid.
Creatine is not a drug or an anabolic steroid, but a substance is considered as an ergogenic aid (improves performance ) used by our muscles for energy and contract.
Creatine should be taken before meals or after training, and possibly dissolved in juice or adding a simple carbohydrate (fructose, dextrose) as they improve its absorption.
While it is true that no side effects have been manifested, we must be prudent in the use of creatine and always be advised by specialists in sports medicine and nutrition, being strongly discouraged by administering substances part of unqualified persons.
* Note: Article published in the Journal of Athletic Training