For those with athletic goals, creatine is typically the first supplement recommended. Though the popularity of fitness supplements changes as trends come and go, creatine has consistently been among the most popular. Its popularity is certainly not due to its delightful chalky flavor, but rather the following impressive benefits:
The efficacy of some supplements is questionable, but this is certainly not the case with creatine. Due to creatine's longtime popularity, it is one of the most well-studied supplements available. Richard Kreider's 2003 review of over 300 studies analyzing creatine's benefits found that 70% of studies identified significant gains in performance due to creatine supplementation. Specifically, creatine increases maximum strength, maximum power, and repetitive sprint performance from 5-15%. Relative to the benefits provided by other supplements, even an improvement of 5% represents an immense positive impact. The most prominent benefits of creatine are its effects on short-term, high intensity exercise, but the evidence suggests that all athletes should consider adding creatine to their supplement regimen.
For the benefits it provides, creatine is incredibly cheap. For the bodybuilder on a budget or the athlete without much extra cash, creatine is an indispensable tool. The classically recommended dose of creatine is around 5 grams per day for the average adult, and a daily 5 gram dose of creatine is substantially cheaper than a morning coffee. Buying in bulk lowers costs even further, making creatine available even to those strapped for cash. If you only have enough funds for a single fitness-related supplement, creatine is the clear choice.
Beyond it's proven effectiveness and cheap cost, creatine is also particularly safe. After his extensive analysis of the literature on creatine, Kreider (2003) concluded that creatine is a safe and effective strength and endurance boosting supplement. Further, long term studies, such as that by Schilling and colleagues in 2001, have found that long-term use of creatine does not have negative health effects. Despite its longtime, wide-spread use, side effects from creatine are almost unheard of. Safety should always be a priority when choosing a supplement, and creatine's record of safety is well-documented.
Creatine is Here to Stay
Due to the safety and effectiveness offered by creatine at an affordable price point, it is no surprise that it continues to be among the most popular supplements. If safety and research-proven results are important to you, go with a classic supplement, and add a creatine supplement to your diet.