Saturday, March 7, 2015

You Can't Be Too Old to Benefit From Creatine! Plus: No Matter How Old You Are, Taking it After Workouts is More Anabolic Than Taking Your Creatine Before Working Out

Whether you are young or old, the benefits of creatine supplementation are something you must not miss.
You know that I am a fan of creatine (and you should be, too). Despite the negative press it gets in regular intervals, it is the one and only truely proven ergogenic amino acid. Still people outside of the fitness community are hesitant to supplement with creatine monohydrate.

Next to the usefulness of creatine in non-fitness junkies - specifically older ones-, which is doubted only by noobs, the issue of "creatine / supplement timing" is still debated - even within the fitness community. With the exception of the previously discussed study by Jose Antonio et al. (2013 | read my review), there is no study that tested, whether the commonly suggested ingestion of creatine after a workout is in fact significantly superior to taking it before the workout.
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The goal of the latest study from the University of Regina in Canada (Candow. 2015) was thus to find out whether (a) older individuals benefit from taking creatine in conjunction w/ resistance training and (b) whether the benefits would be more pronounced, when the creatine supplement is consumed immediately after the workout, when the delivery and uptake of creatine into skeletal muscle is allegedly increased in response to the previous muscle contraction (Harris. 1992).

To this ends, the researchers conducted a randomized double-blind, repeated measures design study with older adults (50-71 yrs). The subjects were randomly assigned to three intervention groups:
  • Creatine-Before (CR-B: n=15; creatine [0.1g∙kg-1] immediately before resistance training and placebo [0.1g∙kg-1 corn-starch maltodextrin] immediately after resistance training), 
  • Creatine-After (CR-A: n=12; placebo immediately before resistance training and creatine immediately after resistance training) or 
  • Placebo (PLA: n=12) placebo immediately before and immediately after resistance training) for 32 weeks. 
Prior to and following the study, body composition (lean tissue, fat mass; dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) and muscle strength (1-repetition maximum leg press and chest press) were assessed. All subjects performed identical workouts the scientists describe as follows:
"Leg press and chest press strength was assessed using a 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) standard testing procedure. Following 5-minutes of cycling on a stationary cycle ergometer, participants performed two warm-up sets in order: 1 set of 10 repetitions usinga weight determined by each subject to be comfortable and 1 set of 5 repetitions using  increased weight. Two-minutes following the warm-up sets, weight was progressively increased for each subsequent 1-RM attempt with a 2-minute rest interval. The 1-RM was reached in 4-6 trials, independent of the 2 warm-up sets. The coefficients of variation from previous research are 3.0% for the leg press and 3.6% for the chest press (Chrusch et al. 2001)." (Candow. 2015)
In addition, the dietary intake was recorded during the first and final week of supplementation and resistance training to assess differences in total energy and macronutrient composition between groups.
Figure 1: Changes in lean mass, leg and bench press performance (Candow. 2015).
While the scientists didn't find a difference in the dietary regimen of the subjects (all increased their energy and protein intake (~100g/day) intake significantly), they did find an increase of lean tissue mass and muscle strength and a decrease in fat mass (p<0.05) in all groups. In that, the creatine supplementation increased the muscle strength more than placebo (Leg Press: CR-B ∆ 36.6 ± 26.6 kg; CR-A ∆ 40.8 ± 38.4 kg; PLA ∆ 5.6 ± 35.1 kg; Chest Press: CR-B ∆ 15.2 ± 13.0 kg; CR-A ∆ 15.7 ± 12.5 kg; PLA ∆ 1.9 ± 14.7 kg; p < 0.025), regardless of when it was administered.

Despite a lack of significant differences, the fact that only the CR-A, i.e. the creatine after resistance training regimen, lead to a significantly greater increases in lean mass compared to the placebo group, while the CR-B group didn't, the study appears to support that the previously reported advantages of administering creatine after a resistance training workout in young men (2013 | read my review) exist in older individuals, as well.
Creatine Loading Induces Reductions in Cortisol Levels at Rest & Post Workout, As Well As Improvements in Glucose Managament in Swimmers During High Intensity Training | more
Bottom line: If you actually had doubts that your parents or grandparents benefit from creatine supplementation, the study at hand, as well as previous studies that showed similar benefits (Well. 1996; Chrusch. 2001; Gotshalk. 2002), as well as improvements in brain performance (Rae. 2003) should eventually dispel your concerns.

And as far as your own creatine supplementation regimen is concerned, the study provides further evidence that it would be wise to follow the advice Antonio and Ciccone formulated in their 2013 study and take your creatine supplements after, not before your workouts | Comment on Facebook!
  • Antonio J, Ciccone V. The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Aug 6;10(1):36. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Candow, Darren, et al. "Strategic ingestion of creatine supplementation and resistance training in healthy older adults." Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (2015): Ahead of print.
  • Chrusch, Murray J., et al. "Creatine supplementation combined with resistance training in older men." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 33.12 (2001): 2111-2117.
  • Gotshalk, Lincoln A., et al. "Creatine supplementation improves muscular performance in older men." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 34.3 (2002): 537-543.
  • Harris, Roger C., Karin Soderlund, and Eric Hultman. "Elevation of creatine in resting and exercised muscle of normal subjects by creatine supplementation." Clin Sci 83.3 (1992): 367-374.
  • Rae, Caroline, et al. "Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double–blind, placebo–controlled, cross–over trial." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 270.1529 (2003): 2147-2150.
  • Welle, Stephen, et al. "Utility of creatinine excretion in body-composition studies of healthy men and women older than 60 y." The American journal of clinical nutrition 63.2 (1996): 151-156.