Updated: Oct 12
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Creatine is thought to be an indirect anabolic substance, only increasing muscle growth via an increase in energy production, this may not be true. Supplementing with creatine may be directly anabolic, by reducing levels of circulating myostatin.
Myostatin is a catabolic regulator of skeletal muscle mass, meaning it will reduce the growth of muscle tissue and break down muscle tissue.
One study researched the effects of creatine and how it may help build muscle by reducing circulating myostatin levels and increasing the action of GASP-1, a protein that reduces the effect of myostatin.
Sports scientists from Iran's Arak University were curious about how creatine works.
Creatine is seen by some scientists as nothing more than a supplement that provides energy and hydration to muscle cells.
According to some researchers, this is why taking a creatine course causes you to acquire a couple of pounds of muscular tissue quickly.
Your strength improves as well, but they think it is thought to be temporary. Some believe that when you stop taking creatine, the benefits diminish.
However, there is a smaller group of researchers that believe creatine provides considerably more. They believe creatine may enhance muscular tissue development.
The researchers conducted a study with 27 male students. Eight of them did nothing (the control group).
The other 19 students worked out with weights for 8 weeks. The participants went to the gym three times a week and completed six fundamental exercises that targeted all of the main muscle groups.
Below is a breakdown of how the study went.
The students performed three sets of each exercise at 60-70% of their one-rep max.
Between sets, the participants rested for no more than 2 minutes.
Creatine was taken by half of the participants who exercised.
They consumed 0.3g creatine per kg bodyweight (e.g. 21g for a 70kg person) daily for the first week.
For the subsequent 7 weeks they consumed 0.05g creatine per kg bodyweight (e.g. 3.5g for a 70kg person) daily.
The participants that exercised gained muscle and strength, and the creatine supplement boosted the effect.
The concentration of myostatin and GASP-1 in the participants' blood was measured by the researchers. The results are shown in the graphs below.
Myostatin concentration was lowered by weight training. Training while on creatine lowered the concentration significantly further.
The protein growth and differentiation factor-associated serum protein-1 (GASP-1) concentration was determined by the researchers. Myostatin's actions are mitigated by this protein.
Weight training boosted GASP-1 production, but it did not seem to be enhanced by creatine, there seems to even be a slight trend for reduced GASP-1 production, but this is not a large effect.
The researchers find that creatine does more than merely temporarily inflate the muscles. As a result, creatine may be directly anabolic, resulting in increased muscle protein synthesis.
Resistance exercise may play a significant role in enhancing muscular strength and bulk by decreasing myostatin and blocking its action through GASP-1.
Creatine supplementation resulted in larger gains in muscle growth and strength, which were accompanied by lower serum myostatin levels.
Is Creatine a Myostatin Inhibitor?
According to this study, resistance training resulted in a substantial reduction in myostatin levels and an increase in GASP-1 serum levels.
Creatine supplementation combined with resistance training resulted in higher declines in serum myostatin, but had no additional impact on GASP-1.
However, this is just one small study and is therefore no enough data to provide a conclusion, but if this data can be replicated it seems as though creatine may be a potential myostatin inhibitor.
Below are definitions and short explanations of what some of the terms in this article mean.
Myostatin: Myostatin is a catabolic regulator of skeletal muscle mass, meaning it will reduce the growth of muscle tissue and break down muscle tissue. Inhibiting myostatin will therefore increase net protein synthesis.
GASP-1: Protein growth and differentiation factor-associated serum protein-1 (GASP-1) is a negative regulator of myostatin, reducing its actions. An increase in this protein will reduce the effects of myostatin, potentially increasing muscle growth.
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This evidence-based analysis of creatines effect on myostatin and GASP-1 features 1 reference, listed below.
1. Saremi A, Gharakhanloo R, Sharghi S, Gharaati MR, Larijani B, Omidfar K. Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on serum myostatin and GASP-1. Mol Cell Endocrinol. (2010, Apr 12) (Randomised Controlled Trial) ✔
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