Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Two grams creatine works, and it won't make you heavier

Even though creatine is still the best sports supplement on the market, many athletes don't use it. They are afraid that the energy supplement will make them put on weight. American sports scientists at Bloomsburg University have found a way to get round this side effect. Low doses of creatine don't make you heavier but they do boost your muscles.

If you use creatine in the classical way, you start by loading, somewhere between 20 and 25 g creatine/day for the first 5-7 days. After that you go over to a maintenance dose of 3-6 g creatine per day.

If you use creatine in this way your muscles will have more energy, and you'll be able to squeeze more reps out of your sets. You retain more fluid and that's why you put on weight. What happens in your body if you skip the loading phase and just use low doses of creatine? This had never been studied, which is why the researchers at Bloomsburg University decided to do so.

The researchers gave 20 test subjects a placebo or a maintenance dose of 0.03 creatine/kg/day. That works out at an average dose of 2.3 g creatine per day. The creatine was given for 6 weeks.

This dose did not make the subjects put on weight. Their maximal strength didn't increase either. But the subjects' muscles became tired less quickly their fatigue resistance increased as the researchers put it.

The researchers determined this by getting the subjects to do 5 sets of 30 reps of leg extensions. During the reps the researchers measured the strength [technically speaking the torque] with which the subjects got the weight moving. For the subjects who took creatine their torque decreased less fast during their sets.

Two grams creatine works, and it won't make you heavier

Two grams creatine works, and it won't make you heavier

Theoretically the findings were not so strange. If you eat meat, chicken or fish daily you consume about 2 g creatine. At the same time your body breaks down about the same amount of creatine each day. If you take 2 g creatine in the form of a supplement it's only logical that you'll build up creatine reserves.

This is interesting for team players and athletes because this dose does not cause bodyweight to increase. Runners, football players, sprinters and swimmers benefit from an increased fatigue resistance but need to maintain their weight.

Nutrition. 2011 Apr;27(4):451-5.