Questioning the Establishment of Low Creatine Levels in Vegetarians, Study was done in 1989

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    Aug 24, 2012 4:33 AM GMT
    I'm vegetarian and do not take creatine. Supposedly my muscles would have low stores of it, but I'm not convinced from the study that says so because most vegetarians do not eat as much protein grams in general as meat eaters, and creatine can be synthesized from protein since it is an amino acid. Therefore, protein requirements could be higher than we think they are for vegetarians not only due to less bioavailable protein (it's a general rule of thumb to up protein intake by 10% if vegetarian due to antinutrients making plant protein less absorbed) but also due to increased needs not supplied by meat, since meat contains creatine. That said, I'm just questioning the study because of your typical vegetarians not eating enough calories and protein in general, and typical vegetarians were likely used in these studies that concluded these results, which then sells creatine as a product/supplement that can be marketed to this group of people because "science" says they have lower levels (n= 55 males from 1989 practicing a vegetarian diet, chances are many of them were gay too). It's all about money--part of the reason I chose not to pursue the world of PhD because it's all about money and financing rather than discovery of new truths.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2758659
    The study establishing the baseline criteria for creatine levels was done in 1989. How well were people planning vegetarian diets back then? Did they use correction factors for bioavailability of plant protein? We didn't even think vegetarian diets were nutritious back then. I am extremely cynical of many scientific studies that say we need to be taking creatine supplements as vegetarians.

    If anyone on here has evidence to convince me otherwise, I'm all ears. Obviously the quick fix would be to take a biopsy from vegetarians today (preferably the type who count their macros and bodybuild and know a thing or two about how many beans you actually have to eat to get your protein needs met as a vegetarian...seriously it's a LOT) to see if they actually do have significantly lower creatine levels than omnivores.

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    Aug 24, 2012 6:00 AM GMT
    I took creatine for about 4 months as an undergrad. I didn't get any difference in performance, and I weighed more. How is that ergogenic? It doesn't work for everyone, and the placebo effect is large. The sports dietitian at Penn State told us a story about how she advised an athlete to take creatine based on the research (including the loading period and maintenance). Well the athlete just took it right before her event and got her personal bests. She was too dumb to realize she didn't do the protocol correctly. That is placebo effect. The creatine didn't do shit for her right before her event.

    If it is proven that vegetarians don't have lower levels of creatine if they actually know how to construct a veggie diet that has similar levels of utilized protein and utilized calories (as some calories in a veggie diet don't get absorbed since it is fiber) than an omnivorous diet (and very likely in 1989, this was NOT controlled for and neither was exercise type and frequency controlled for), then the supplement industry's last hold of "solid science" (because creatine is the most researched ergogenic aid) will falter against vegetarians, a group to whom it is marketed.

    It won't have any effect on the other studies that show creatine as effective in exercises that use the pathways that use creatine unless the other studies also failed to control protein/calorie intake also.
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    Aug 24, 2012 6:37 AM GMT
    Yes, there are responders and nonresponders, so I question whether they really know what it actually does and how. If you can just get the same effect by eating a higher protein diet (ie the 1.2-1.7g/kg protein per day recommended for athletes, adjusted by +10% if vegetarian) then is it ergogenic anymore or just another source of nutrition.
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    Aug 24, 2012 9:48 AM GMT
    So, after reading the study you reference, here is some thought on potential inaccuracy:

    The two groups likely have different mean weight.
    If you compare plasma creatinine level with urinary level, the ratio is different between groups. The only possible explanations are impaired renal function or blood volume difference between groups.
    As it's unlikely people with impaired renal function would have been included in the study, you can safely assume (as expected anyway) that vegetarian group average weight is smaller than the reference group.

    Consequence = the mean blood volume (function of body weight) is different between the two groups, so identical concentration in blood mean different total quantity in body.

    Vegetarian have usually lower body fat% than the rest of the population.
    It imply the weight correction applied to calculate creatinine clearance
    out of urine collection are biased.

    The authors estimate that
    "Because body creatine content is directly proportional to daily creatinine loss, we could estimate mean
    total creatine (creatine + phosphocreatme) content in the vegetarians as 80 g
    per 1.73 m2 ofbody surface (vs 120 g per
    1.73 m2 for the reference population)"

    but forgot that the equivalent creatinine plasma concentration between groups prove that the formula used to compute creatinine clearance (loss) are flawed by not accounting properly for weight/bodyfat.

    What the study data show without ambiguity is that:
    Vegetarian are leaner than non vegetarian
    Vegetarian have less creatine in blood
    Vegetarian use the same amount of creatine as non vegetarian.
    Vegetarian creatine levels excess creatine use, and the excess nearly double in non vegetarian.

    And the study data don't indicate any need for creatine supplementation.







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    Aug 24, 2012 12:27 PM GMT
    I am a vegetarian. I take creatina at intervals with at least two months between because, I thought it was necessary to give the body a "rest". I do not know why this is true, but I read it somewhere and it seems to work for me. When using it, it breaks me out of my plateau every time.

    During the interval I use 250 grams until it is gone. I take 20 grams, 5 grams times 4 times per day for the first 6 days. Then I reduce it to 10 grams, 5 grams twice per day until the supply runs out. I prepare shakes and store them in the frig over night with the 5 grams each shake. I drink a shake 1 hour or so before my workout and then drink another shake when I get home, which is usually about a half hour after my workout.

    I think if I were to take the creatina all the time it would not work after a while because usually at the very end of the interval it seems to loose its effectiveness and then I have a period of plateau again, which, is ok by me.
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    Aug 24, 2012 3:38 PM GMT
    I happen to have borderline high creatine levels and I am now trying to get away from eating animal based protein.
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    Aug 24, 2012 11:43 PM GMT
    omarking1960 saidI happen to have borderline high creatine levels and I am now trying to get away from eating animal based protein.


    How do you know this? That could be due to less excretion of creatinine, indicating a kidney issue, right? My initial thoughts.
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    Aug 24, 2012 11:45 PM GMT
    alexander7 saidI am a vegetarian. I take creatina at intervals with at least two months between because, I thought it was necessary to give the body a "rest". I do not know why this is true, but I read it somewhere and it seems to work for me. When using it, it breaks me out of my plateau every time.

    During the interval I use 250 grams until it is gone. I take 20 grams, 5 grams times 4 times per day for the first 6 days. Then I reduce it to 10 grams, 5 grams twice per day until the supply runs out. I prepare shakes and store them in the frig over night with the 5 grams each shake. I drink a shake 1 hour or so before my workout and then drink another shake when I get home, which is usually about a half hour after my workout.

    I think if I were to take the creatina all the time it would not work after a while because usually at the very end of the interval it seems to loose its effectiveness and then I have a period of plateau again, which, is ok by me.


    Creatine is not a hormone. It is not necessary to cycle it like bodybuilders do who take anabolic steroids. The only reason I could think they cycle is to counter the mass losses that occur when they quit their steroids, but I don't juice it so I wouldn't know. The protocol you are taking is way more than is necessary. 5g per day is fine. The only reason to take more is to try to saturate your muscles faster, but you will still reach saturation eventually if you take the 5g a day. After you reach saturation, you don't need a lot to maintain, so you could reduce it to like 3g a day. It takes over a month to undo saturation.
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    Aug 24, 2012 11:49 PM GMT
    minox saidSo, after reading the study you reference, here is some thought on potential inaccuracy:

    The two groups likely have different mean weight.
    If you compare plasma creatinine level with urinary level, the ratio is different between groups. The only possible explanations are impaired renal function or blood volume difference between groups.
    As it's unlikely people with impaired renal function would have been included in the study, you can safely assume (as expected anyway) that vegetarian group average weight is smaller than the reference group.

    Consequence = the mean blood volume (function of body weight) is different between the two groups, so identical concentration in blood mean different total quantity in body.

    Vegetarian have usually lower body fat% than the rest of the population.
    It imply the weight correction applied to calculate creatinine clearance
    out of urine collection are biased.

    The authors estimate that
    "Because body creatine content is directly proportional to daily creatinine loss, we could estimate mean
    total creatine (creatine + phosphocreatme) content in the vegetarians as 80 g
    per 1.73 m2 ofbody surface (vs 120 g per
    1.73 m2 for the reference population)"

    but forgot that the equivalent creatinine plasma concentration between groups prove that the formula used to compute creatinine clearance (loss) are flawed by not accounting properly for weight/bodyfat.

    What the study data show without ambiguity is that:
    Vegetarian are leaner than non vegetarian
    Vegetarian have less creatine in blood
    Vegetarian use the same amount of creatine as non vegetarian.
    Vegetarian creatine levels excess creatine use, and the excess nearly double in non vegetarian.

    And the study data don't indicate any need for creatine supplementation.



    Regarding your summary:
    1) Of course vegetarians are leaner than non vegetarians for a few reasons: first, they consume fewer calories than non vegetarians. Second, if indeed vegetarians have less creatine, well creatine attracts water into the muscles. That would increase non-functional lean mass--ie deadweight.

    2) Vegetarians have upregulated creatine-conservation systems, so they wouldn't have as much excretion.






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    Aug 25, 2012 7:03 AM GMT
    bluey2223 said
    alexander7 saidI am a vegetarian. I take creatina at intervals with at least two months between because, I thought it was necessary to give the body a "rest". I do not know why this is true, but I read it somewhere and it seems to work for me. When using it, it breaks me out of my plateau every time.

    During the interval I use 250 grams until it is gone. I take 20 grams, 5 grams times 4 times per day for the first 6 days. Then I reduce it to 10 grams, 5 grams twice per day until the supply runs out. I prepare shakes and store them in the frig over night with the 5 grams each shake. I drink a shake 1 hour or so before my workout and then drink another shake when I get home, which is usually about a half hour after my workout.

    I think if I were to take the creatina all the time it would not work after a while because usually at the very end of the interval it seems to loose its effectiveness and then I have a period of plateau again, which, is ok by me.


    Creatine is not a hormone. It is not necessary to cycle it like bodybuilders do who take anabolic steroids. The only reason I could think they cycle is to counter the mass losses that occur when they quit their steroids, but I don't juice it so I wouldn't know. The protocol you are taking is way more than is necessary. 5g per day is fine. The only reason to take more is to try to saturate your muscles faster, but you will still reach saturation eventually if you take the 5g a day. After you reach saturation, you don't need a lot to maintain, so you could reduce it to like 3g a day. It takes over a month to undo saturation.


    Thanks, this is good advice and if it works it will save me mucho dinero. I was following the directions on the bottle and also from a muscle site. They were a little different so I split the difference to come up with the recipe above. Yeah, I know about hormones, screwing around with a balanced hormonal system in the body is very dangerous. I do not even let the doc give me cortisone unless it is necessary for extreme pain.