In this article I continue my quest to rid the world of bad information regarding CrossFit and supplementation. I’ve had some questions come my way lately asking me “if I’m only going to take one supplement other than protein, what would that supplement be?” The reality is this is an unnecessary question to ask or answer because there is no good reason to not take a blend of supporting supplements. I know at first it can be difficult to sort out which supplements to take and which to avoid but that is what we are here for! But, for the sake of our readers, I will play along and answer this question.
If I had to pick just one other supplement to take in addition to protein my answer would be simple; creatine.
I still find it amazing how many people have this idea that creatine is either highly dangerous that could cause liver failure, a steroidal substance, or both. Nothing could be further from the truth. Research has shown creatine to be both a very safe and very effective supplement for nearly every human, exercising or not. Here are just a few of the reasons why every athlete (and all humans in general) should be taking creatine.
- Improved muscle contraction speed means improved performance in any discipline or sport. CrossFit WOD’s are very demanding, high intensity exercise times that put incredible demands on our body. Creatine is essential in the performance of our CP-ATP system which is what our bodies rely on when doing short, explosive movements like sprints, box jumps, burpees, etc.. By ensuring your body is stocked up with creatine you are helping to ensure you CP-ATP system does not start to sputter 3 minutes in to that 12min AMRAP WOD. Not only will you be able to go harder during the WOD but you will be able to last longer. A real win/win!
- Improved recovery means higher quality workouts at a higher frequency with more muscle growth! Often, when a person starts WOD’ing they are lucky to get in more than 2 or 3 times in a week before finding their DOM’s too great and needing to rest and recover. In the beginning I felt like I was never going to recover fast enough to really be my best WOD after WOD. Creatine has been shown in research to assist in ATP resynthesis, essentially the recovery of the muscle cells, which means your time of recovery could be less while your effort during the WOD is increased thereby maximizing your muscle growth experience. Another big win for creatine.
- Improved work capacity (intensity, speed, etc.) translates into more muscle growth and improved performance. Plain and simple, taking creatine will help you WOD harder than if you don’t take it. We can all understand why that helps us progress. Where you once would have to decrease your load, intensity, speed, etc. creatine will allow you to keep pushing on hard.
- Improved brain function. Yes, you heard me right. Creatine has now been shown in research to increase the performance of the brain in people supplementing it. Just like it does for our muscles, creatine can provide energy for the brain to perform better than it can without it. One study conducted by Researchers at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University ran a study that found increased brain capacity with better performance in a variety of tests. The short of it is this, creatine does the brain and body good.