11

votes

Creatine and Paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 27, 2010 at 10:34 PM

Creatine is a proven (and generally recognized as safe) supplement to boost muscle mass when combined with consistent strength training. From my readings, it is recommended to take it with fruit juice or dextrose because the insulin spike will help the uptake of the creatine. Does it have a place in a paleo diet/exercise regimen?

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on March 08, 2013
at 09:56 PM

MPB isn't as simple as excess DHT. It's a complex issue probably stemming from the fact that in the general population people with a bunch of dht floating around might also have a bunch of estrogen in their system. This excess estrogen is likely to blame moreso than the dht. Just like supplemental dht doesn't enlarge the prostate and has actually been shown to decrease prostate size in clinical settings.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on March 03, 2013
at 11:45 PM

@Paleo Dave, I disagree vehemently that less anaerobic activity is natural for humans. Almost everything I've read points to intense anaerobic activities being the true cornerstone to real health, creatine helps because it increases anaerobic abilities if anything, not because people would do less anaerobic activities.

2e1591c76896828077b930de5107f1af

on November 14, 2012
at 01:28 PM

creatine loading is not nessecary... its a hike by the companies to make more money. 2.5g-5g daily is enough to keep the muscle saturated with creatine

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 26, 2011
at 01:45 AM

I think the caveat is if you take it, and you're going in for a blood test to let you doc know to take it so the extra readings of creatinine don't mark you as having damaged kidneys. I don't remember anything about it actually causing problems if you have kidney disease. (but I could be wrong.)

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on November 25, 2011
at 09:14 PM

Thanks for resurrecting over a year-old thread with your content-free post.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:19 AM

By the way, this is a video of a non-micronized, non-Creapure Creatine. However, you can see the guy mixing in hot and room temperature water. How does it compare to what yours did? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73OP9Mg-6YM

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:09 AM

Don't forget to get micronized stuff. I had some of the non-micronized stuff. It dissolved maybe 95-99%. You have to keep stirring, etc. Took a lot longer than micronized stuff. Also, how much are you putting in? I do around 5 grams to a cup of hot/boiling water (then brew tea in it).

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 25, 2011
at 08:29 PM

update: dissolving in hot water totally does not work. I purchased 100% Creapure Creatine Monohydrate. Even after stirring into boiling water, the sandy powder just sits at the bottom of the glass. Is the heat of the water altering the composition and it's just not readily apparent to the eye?

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on April 18, 2011
at 10:14 PM

Yes, learned about it when I started taking a lot of creatine and suffered the side effects. Other note. You'll see people saying don't take it with orange juice other acidy juices because it'll damage it, etc. Not! Your stomach acid's stronger than any juice you drink.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 18, 2011
at 08:49 PM

interesting. i did some targeted searching, and it seems that you should indeed dissolve it in warm to hot water first, so that your body does not have to work extra hard to dissolve it, just as you elude to above. I will take heed now that I know this, but dang it would have been nice to know for the loading phase. Thanks for the tip James! That's a real hack.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 18, 2011
at 08:39 PM

dissolve in hot water? in all the reading I've done, I did not come across this?

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on April 18, 2011
at 08:35 PM

or if you are an aromatizer which most overweight people are.

Medium avatar

(5639)

on April 05, 2011
at 09:21 PM

That's a total bummer. Don't think I'm gonna lose my hair anytime soon, but no reason to tempt fate either. :(

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 05, 2011
at 09:00 PM

I'd heard about this in the context of vegetarians and in the context of sleep deprivation. Since I'm very frequently sleep deprived I hope it has some effect.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 05, 2011
at 08:11 PM

never heard that before, but if i begin supping creatine and then posting highly intelligent questions/answers, then we can use this as a marker of whether or not it's true.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6082)

on May 11, 2010
at 04:43 PM

There could be an anthropological component here too. Consider the alpha male of the tribe getting access to the best meat and in higher quantities. He might be the toughest guy, so keeping him strong or making him stronger might be beneficial to him or the tribe, and have some sort of hereditary selective component.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on May 08, 2010
at 11:09 PM

It's all synthetic. I guess choose the brand you trust most--Optimum, Twin Lab, etc.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on March 13, 2010
at 10:17 AM

A lot of people reason that creatine uptake by the muscles would be greater after a workout because of improved (specific) insulin sensitivity and carried on the wave of the post-workout meal.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on March 13, 2010
at 10:16 AM

Thanks PaleoDave, that's exactly the sort of figure I was after. It makes sense that we would be able to get enough from a natural meat heavy diet and I'd heard that cooking destroys most of the creatine. If that's so, it would explain why 1-2pounds of mostly raw meat was adequate but exclusively cooked meat is not. I also suspect that the average HG would have less anaerobic and more aerobic activity than the average modern weight-lifter.

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on March 11, 2010
at 08:51 PM

I have no clue how accurate this is but it's the best info I could find -- http://www.brianmac.co.uk/creatine.htm . Some quotes... "a pound of raw beef contains about 1.8 grams" "Research has shown that taking 3 grams of creatine a day over a 30 day period produces about as much creatine storage as a 20 gram/day strategy." "A maintenance dose of creatine would probably be about 3 to 4 grams per day". So if those numbers are correct, we're talking about averaging less than 2 lbs of meat a day to max out and maintain storage. Doesn't seem too unreasonable.

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on March 11, 2010
at 08:33 PM

That's a great question, David, and something I've wondered about myself. In a natural environment, it seems that creatine is gained by meat consumption and lost by anaerobic metabolism. This might indicate that more meat and less anaerobic activity is natural for humans. A very high meat diet might load creatine enough for infrequent anaerobic activities. It's also possible that the limit on creatine stores is a function of something unrelated to evolutionary processes (like limitation due to physics) and thus a red herring in thinking about evolutionary fitness.

Eae21abfabb19c4617b2630386994fd9

on March 11, 2010
at 07:59 PM

I have read cooking destroys creatine, but even if it didn't it seems difficult to naturally consume the levels people report to benefit from with supplementation.

A1ae6a36ca0f4210882603e1255ea42d

(298)

on March 11, 2010
at 07:10 PM

im at about 170 BW and 290 DL, so a ways to go, but I am seeing pretty nice progress now that I have increased the volume of my back squatting -- will be sure to update as I reach the goal

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on March 11, 2010
at 06:44 PM

How close are you to the 2x bw DL? I've pulled 435 at a bw of 198. Let us know when you get it!

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14 Answers

7
5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

on February 27, 2010
at 11:03 PM

There have been favorable posts at Conditioning Research and The Heart Scan Blog about creatine. The research seems to be very positive in terms of physical and cognitive benefits and in terms of long term safety. The natural food source of creatine is meat but it seems to take a heck of a lot of meat to fully load the body's creatine buffers.

From a Paleo context, you're probably already eating a ton of meat so supplementing might not have as great a benefit as a non-Paleo who eats less meat might get. For example, the cognitive benefit of creatine supplementation has only been observed in vegetarians, presumably because meat eaters already get enough.

I think someone who comes from a low or no meat diet to Paleo could benefit greatly from an initial phase of creatine loading. Those who have always eaten relatively high levels of meat would benefit less. For those who want to max out muscle gains, it seems like supplementing is a good bet.

I would guess that taking creatine with a big meal encourages uptake just as much as a big sugar hit. After all, it normally comes from meat. After loading, it's just 5g a day which can be easily taken with a meal.

2e1591c76896828077b930de5107f1af

on November 14, 2012
at 01:28 PM

creatine loading is not nessecary... its a hike by the companies to make more money. 2.5g-5g daily is enough to keep the muscle saturated with creatine

5
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on March 11, 2010
at 06:43 PM

My purely anecdotal evidence is that creatine works very well, it's made more difference to my muscle gains than any changes in workout or diet.

I'd have thought that it would be safe in anything like reasonable quantities since it is found naturally in meat. I've never experienced any negative effects apart from when I started using it (using the recommended 'loading phase' of higher doses and wasn't dissolving it properly. This caused digestive upset and a headache, but nothing more sinister.

The thing that interests me is why our bodies would seem to be optimised for higher doses of creatine than we seem to get eating natural (high meat) diets. Is something about the meat we consume or the way we cook it reducing creatine or is something else we're doing stopping our bodies synthesising large enough amounts? Plausibly our bodies just aren't evolved to produce large amounts of muscle mass in most circumstances. McGuff argues quite convincingly that most people will never be able to become especially massive (genetically), because we have largely evolved to be lean, but not massive because of the trade-off between strength and energy requirements.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on March 13, 2010
at 10:16 AM

Thanks PaleoDave, that's exactly the sort of figure I was after. It makes sense that we would be able to get enough from a natural meat heavy diet and I'd heard that cooking destroys most of the creatine. If that's so, it would explain why 1-2pounds of mostly raw meat was adequate but exclusively cooked meat is not. I also suspect that the average HG would have less anaerobic and more aerobic activity than the average modern weight-lifter.

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on March 11, 2010
at 08:51 PM

I have no clue how accurate this is but it's the best info I could find -- http://www.brianmac.co.uk/creatine.htm . Some quotes... "a pound of raw beef contains about 1.8 grams" "Research has shown that taking 3 grams of creatine a day over a 30 day period produces about as much creatine storage as a 20 gram/day strategy." "A maintenance dose of creatine would probably be about 3 to 4 grams per day". So if those numbers are correct, we're talking about averaging less than 2 lbs of meat a day to max out and maintain storage. Doesn't seem too unreasonable.

Eae21abfabb19c4617b2630386994fd9

on March 11, 2010
at 07:59 PM

I have read cooking destroys creatine, but even if it didn't it seems difficult to naturally consume the levels people report to benefit from with supplementation.

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on March 11, 2010
at 08:33 PM

That's a great question, David, and something I've wondered about myself. In a natural environment, it seems that creatine is gained by meat consumption and lost by anaerobic metabolism. This might indicate that more meat and less anaerobic activity is natural for humans. A very high meat diet might load creatine enough for infrequent anaerobic activities. It's also possible that the limit on creatine stores is a function of something unrelated to evolutionary processes (like limitation due to physics) and thus a red herring in thinking about evolutionary fitness.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6082)

on May 11, 2010
at 04:43 PM

There could be an anthropological component here too. Consider the alpha male of the tribe getting access to the best meat and in higher quantities. He might be the toughest guy, so keeping him strong or making him stronger might be beneficial to him or the tribe, and have some sort of hereditary selective component.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on March 03, 2013
at 11:45 PM

@Paleo Dave, I disagree vehemently that less anaerobic activity is natural for humans. Almost everything I've read points to intense anaerobic activities being the true cornerstone to real health, creatine helps because it increases anaerobic abilities if anything, not because people would do less anaerobic activities.

4
6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on February 27, 2010
at 11:34 PM

Although creatine is a naturally-occurring amino acid, the creatine supplements that you can purchase are artificial synthetic products (see http://fusionnutritioninc.blogspot.com/2007/07/how-creatine-is-made.html ). Therefore, creatine is not strictly paleo. This does not mean that creatine supplements are molecularly different than naturally-occurring creatine--they aren't. Nor does it mean that creatine is harmful--it's not. Others have already mentioned benefits of creatine, which include increased strength, improved cognitive ability, and lowering some of your heart disease risk factors. The one caveat to creatine is that you should not take it if you have kidney disease. The main sources of creatine in the diet are red meat, wild game and fish. However, you can only get about 2gm per day from diet, vs. 5 to 20gm per day from supplements. If you want to take creatine, you have to decide how much of a paleo "purist" you are, since it's a non-natural, manufactured product.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 26, 2011
at 01:45 AM

I think the caveat is if you take it, and you're going in for a blood test to let you doc know to take it so the extra readings of creatinine don't mark you as having damaged kidneys. I don't remember anything about it actually causing problems if you have kidney disease. (but I could be wrong.)

4
48a1334b345df12f6291e9f1edf54693

on February 27, 2010
at 10:53 PM

I've used creatine with great success. The creatine itself shouldn't have any metabolic impact and you don't NEED to create that insulin spike for the creatine to be effective, but it may potentiate its effects. If you're happy with your body weight, or your goal is to add some strength or muscle mass, I doubt that drinking a small glass of natural fruit juice pre or post-workout would have any detrimental effect on your health.

Don't sweat the small stuff.

2
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on April 18, 2011
at 08:16 PM

Creatine for strict paleo, no. It's a supplement that wasn't around back then. You can fudge it a bit by saying it was in the meat, and people would have been consuming that much if they ate a lot of meat. However, the spirit of the thing is foods and not supplements.

That said, if you're in the camp of doing the paleo diet plus taking supplements for specific needs (muscle building for example), I think whey and creatine have a place.

In terms of Creatine, you want Creatine Monohydrate. There's a lot of variations out there (some with substantially higher costs), but the most scientific research is on Creatine Monohydrate. I haven't seen anything convincing on using the more expensive stuff for bang vs buck.

I recommend Creapure, it's a trademarked brand from a German source (you'll see it in the ingredients/logo). There was a bit of a kerfluffle a while back in the late 90's on the quality of Creatine out there. Lot of bad chemicals in trace amounts due to the manufacturing process. Creapure is trademarked and from a German source, that had verifiably good quality vs cheaper sources from China. I haven't seen anything more recent to change opinions.

http://www.brinkzone.com/articles/whats-in-your-creatine/

In terms of dose, you'll see variations, usually along the lines of high doses, dropping down to 5mg/day. The idea being that you're loading your body with Creatine to top off the stores. However, there's research saying that if you're planning on doing this long term, you can take 5mg/day over time and get the same results and avoid the side effects of high doses (gastrointestinal woes/bloating/etc). So trade off, high doses, high performance to start + gastro problems. Low doses, lower performance (but still higher than current), fewer gastro problems. Month later, same results either way.

In terms of extras, you want to take it after a workout with a sugar that spikes insulin (dextrose for example). I use Gatoraid powder as a cheap source. The liquid Gatoraids used to be High Fructose corn syrup (although they went back to sugar now). This helps shuttle the Creatine into the muscle cells after a workout. This obviously doesn't help as much without the workout.

I use a micronized Creatine, disolved in hot water, then mixed in with Gatorade (or other sugar source) and cooled down with ice. Creatine doesn't disolve quickly in water (even micronized Creatine), so it needs to be hot water. If you don't do this, it will disolve over time, but in your intestines, where it sucks in more water (more gastro problems).

You will need to drink more water (even more than regular with low carb paleo) because Creatine sucks water into the muscle cells. If you don't drink water normally, you need to learn to. Most of the injuries I've heard about with Creatine are because people aren't drinking enough water and are chronically dehydrated.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 18, 2011
at 08:49 PM

interesting. i did some targeted searching, and it seems that you should indeed dissolve it in warm to hot water first, so that your body does not have to work extra hard to dissolve it, just as you elude to above. I will take heed now that I know this, but dang it would have been nice to know for the loading phase. Thanks for the tip James! That's a real hack.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on April 18, 2011
at 10:14 PM

Yes, learned about it when I started taking a lot of creatine and suffered the side effects. Other note. You'll see people saying don't take it with orange juice other acidy juices because it'll damage it, etc. Not! Your stomach acid's stronger than any juice you drink.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 18, 2011
at 08:39 PM

dissolve in hot water? in all the reading I've done, I did not come across this?

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 25, 2011
at 08:29 PM

update: dissolving in hot water totally does not work. I purchased 100% Creapure Creatine Monohydrate. Even after stirring into boiling water, the sandy powder just sits at the bottom of the glass. Is the heat of the water altering the composition and it's just not readily apparent to the eye?

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:09 AM

Don't forget to get micronized stuff. I had some of the non-micronized stuff. It dissolved maybe 95-99%. You have to keep stirring, etc. Took a lot longer than micronized stuff. Also, how much are you putting in? I do around 5 grams to a cup of hot/boiling water (then brew tea in it).

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:19 AM

By the way, this is a video of a non-micronized, non-Creapure Creatine. However, you can see the guy mixing in hot and room temperature water. How does it compare to what yours did? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73OP9Mg-6YM

2
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 05, 2011
at 08:00 PM

This question is well worded because the OP asks if creatine has a place in the Paleo regimen. We all know and have accepted that the Paleo regimen of today is not going to be a re-enactment of Paleolithic times.

Mark McManus of MuscleHack.com does not claim to eat "Paleo" that I know of and I'm pretty sure you could find some recommendations on his site that would get eaten alive on PaleoHacks. But he does promote eating healthy saturated fats, including beef and butter, eats generally low-carb, knows about the whole cholesterol misunderstanding, and is a natural bodybuilder that's more in line with Paleo than probably most other bodybuilders.

Here are a few simple to understand articles for Mark's take on Creatine with some valuable points regarding exactly what creatine is, how it is used in the body, and if it's a safe and good supplement.

http://www.musclehack.com/what-is-creatine-how-does-it-work/

http://www.musclehack.com/creatine-the-most-effective-ergogenic-nutritional-supplement/

http://www.musclehack.com/the-case-for-creatine/

http://www.musclehack.com/creatine-facts-what-is-the-best-creatine/

The short answer: Creatine is perfectly ok to supplement with for muscle gains and in fact quite effective.

2
B4aa2df25a6bf17d22556667ff896170

(851)

on May 08, 2010
at 01:51 PM

One problem with creatine is that if you have a genetic predisposition to male baldness, it may increase your hair loss. And no im not making this up (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19741313)

As seen in the study, creatine increases dihydrotestosterone, which is a male hormone that causes hair loss...

Medium avatar

(5639)

on April 05, 2011
at 09:21 PM

That's a total bummer. Don't think I'm gonna lose my hair anytime soon, but no reason to tempt fate either. :(

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on April 18, 2011
at 08:35 PM

or if you are an aromatizer which most overweight people are.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on March 08, 2013
at 09:56 PM

MPB isn't as simple as excess DHT. It's a complex issue probably stemming from the fact that in the general population people with a bunch of dht floating around might also have a bunch of estrogen in their system. This excess estrogen is likely to blame moreso than the dht. Just like supplemental dht doesn't enlarge the prostate and has actually been shown to decrease prostate size in clinical settings.

1
B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on November 26, 2011
at 12:11 AM

I know that this is controversial but creatine killed my sex drive. It happened on two different occasions a few years apart. It also took months to recover. If you google around you'll see that various people have posted this on forums across the web but theyre always shot down and basically called an idiot.

I'm not claiming its a direct mechanism but I now stay away. Perhaps it allowed me to overwork myself? This was all pre-paleo and because of many undiagnosed food sensitivities my body was a mess (even though I "ate right" and exercised.)

1
8544465753d56e89bd1bb2c92e9cea7a

on April 05, 2011
at 08:08 PM

Has anyone seen boost in intelligence with creatine??

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691485/

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 05, 2011
at 09:00 PM

I'd heard about this in the context of vegetarians and in the context of sleep deprivation. Since I'm very frequently sleep deprived I hope it has some effect.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 05, 2011
at 08:11 PM

never heard that before, but if i begin supping creatine and then posting highly intelligent questions/answers, then we can use this as a marker of whether or not it's true.

1
A1ae6a36ca0f4210882603e1255ea42d

on March 10, 2010
at 09:40 PM

I take creatine monohydrate (ie, no added stuff), but recognize that it is not strictly paleo. Certain pursuits, like working towards 2x BW DLs, are not strictly paleo I'd say and creatine is helpful in reaching said goals.

Daniel, interesting that you take it after workouts, I have always done before workouts. Any reason for the timing?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on March 13, 2010
at 10:17 AM

A lot of people reason that creatine uptake by the muscles would be greater after a workout because of improved (specific) insulin sensitivity and carried on the wave of the post-workout meal.

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on March 11, 2010
at 06:44 PM

How close are you to the 2x bw DL? I've pulled 435 at a bw of 198. Let us know when you get it!

A1ae6a36ca0f4210882603e1255ea42d

(298)

on March 11, 2010
at 07:10 PM

im at about 170 BW and 290 DL, so a ways to go, but I am seeing pretty nice progress now that I have increased the volume of my back squatting -- will be sure to update as I reach the goal

0
306632d0bd0fc7f9b11e429427533b26

(0)

on November 25, 2011
at 09:07 PM

it dissolves in hot liquids, such as water, tea, and maybe coffee!

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on November 25, 2011
at 09:14 PM

Thanks for resurrecting over a year-old thread with your content-free post.

0
8347d512bca9b034d53da40dab8cd21c

on May 08, 2010
at 03:41 PM

For those using it, would you recommend one product over another?

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on May 08, 2010
at 11:09 PM

It's all synthetic. I guess choose the brand you trust most--Optimum, Twin Lab, etc.

0
0d821bf7d4028b84a6838062db0e9ce0

(754)

on March 11, 2010
at 05:49 PM

I believe there's some studies out there that showed the max you can absorb per day is about ~5g If anyone's worries about amounts (there's an exact ratio to body weight or lean muscle mass as well but its generally within .1-.5 g of 5 g from what I saw)

0
7dfee60fc6913ae7d6d709a683a15f4e

on February 28, 2010
at 04:05 PM

For what its worth, i take it after working out about 4 times a week. Not a lot as i eat paleo about 90% of the week, in about 3gm doses. Its important to remember that protein and amino acids create their own storage response.

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