Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sept. 21 - Creatine Supplements

The first in a weekly series of informational papers from the Buccaneers' strength and fitness department focuses on the use of dietary supplements

Currently there is some preliminary scientific research that supports the position that some individuals will increase muscular size and strength with proper strength training and creatine supplementation significantly faster than non-supplemented counterparts. Creatine supplementation, however, is not without side effects:

(1). Creatine supplementation may cause an electrolyte imbalance. More specifically, it may create a reversal in the muscle's calcium-phosphorus ratio. A disruption of the calcium-phosphorous ratio could potentially interfere with the muscle's contraction & relaxation mechanisms. As a result, the muscle may contract/shorten when it's suppose to relax/stretch or vice versa. This may cause tetanic muscle cramping and muscle strains.

(2). This electrolyte imbalance may also predispose athletes to dehydration and heat related illness. Increased fluid retention within the muscle cells reduces blood plasma volumes. A reduced blood plasma volume adversely effects one's ability to perform and dissipate heat. The effects of which are magnified in hot/humid environments like Tampa.

(3). Creatine supplementation research is preliminary and lacks valid longitudinal studies. Also lacking to date, is research on the effects of creatine supplementation on a combined strength training and conditioning/agility program.

(4). With the passage of The Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994, dietary supplements are no longer properly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This legislation was lobbied for and endorsed by the dietary supplement industry. As a result, dietary supplements are no longer classified as a food. As such, the dietary supplement industry can choose to make whatever hyperbole claims they concoct and are not required to prove product efficacy and/or safety. Also, product-labeling requirements are ambiguous and misleading. Consequently, product quality is suspect and difficult to ascertain. It's a buyer's beware market where the responsibility for proof of efficacy/safety is put on the consumer rather than the manufacturer. Thus, it is professionally incriminating/irresponsible for a coach to recommend an athlete take a dietary supplement when one cannot be absolutely positive of what they are ingesting.

(5). Any team/individual success will be commercially marketed by the dietary supplement industry as evidence of product efficacy to immature and highly impressionable youth (their primary market). Such marketing hyperbole claims undermines the efforts of our organization to be responsible to our community' youth and exploits the talents/efforts of our players.

Current evidence suggests that creatine supplementation may be advantageous to a bodybuilder interested in "ornamental" muscle development but disadvantageous for football players interested in "functional" muscular development. As a result, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not endorse creatine supplementation as a training adjunct for our players.

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