Athletes who have taken creatine monohydrate know that it works, although they may not understand the science behind it.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid found in red meat and naturally produced by the human body. We produce it from derivatives of L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. All the amino acid profile stuff is great, but the real key is the phosphocreatine system. The phosphate group in creatine allows for a donation of a single phosphate molecule to the energy by-product of ATP. Get this: the byproduct is ADP - P or Adenosine DI-phosphate + a phosphrylated waste. That single phosphate from creatine has the opportunity to bind with ADP + P to create new ATP! All that science translates to more energy for you.
Sodium Bicarbonate Study
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a research study examining the effects of creatine, placebo maltodextrin, and creatine + sodium bicarbonate. They took healthy, trained males through the performance-based Wingate Cycle Ergometer test. Each subject performed six 10-second anaerobic power sprints with 60 seconds of rest between intervals.
Compared with the placebo, relative peak power was significantly higher with creatine (4%) and creatine + sodium bicarbonate (7%). Relative peak power was significantly lower in sprints 4-6, compared with sprint 1, in both placebo and creatine. However, in creatine + sodium bicarbonate, sprint 6 was the only sprint significantly lower compared with sprint 1. Pre-Wingate bicarbonate concentrations were significantly higher in creatine + sodium bicarbonate (10%), compared with in placebo and creatine, and mean concentrations remained higher after sprint 6.
What Does This Mean?
The maltodextrin provided very little benefit, probably because the carbohydrate was burned off quickly, potentially even during the warm-up phase. Creatine did make a marked difference, but results from creatine + sodium bicarbonate were significant. While only 3% higher in relative peak power, the lasting difference is the power that could be created after sprint 4. Having the ability to sustain peak power for longer can benefit every high performance anaerobic athlete.
Why It Happens?
Sodium bicarbonate buffers lactic acid by essentially prolonging lactic acid build-up. The best part is that sodium bicarbonate is literally just baking soda.
This research shows that adding sodium bicarbonate could improve the efficacy of creatine. However, don't just start throwing baking soda and creatine monohydrate into your sports drink. Talk to your physician before changing your supplement intake.
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 Barber, J. J., McDermott, A. Y., McGaughey, K. J., Olmstead, J. D., & Hagobian, T. A. (2013). "Effects of combined creatine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation on repeated sprint performance in trained men." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 27(1), Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2013/01000/Effects_of_Combined_Creatine_and_Sodium.35.aspx
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