We know that creatine is a wonder product – there is extensive research to back up this claim.

And creatine monohydrate is particularly effective due to its muscle uptake and ability to increase high-intensity exercise capacity.

Not only does it increase power and strength, but it also boosts muscle gain, aids recovery and improves muscle endurance. It’s also an extremely cost-effective supplement relative to its many benefits.

READ MORE: Is creatine the ultimate performance-enhancer?

Evidence stacks up

And research by a team of Australian scientists has also shown that creatine may also provide a significant protective benefit.

In the study, the research team imposed controlled, chemically-induced damage to skeletal muscle tissue in lab rats to test the myoprotective potential of supplemental creatine (CR) compared to that of whey protein (WP).

The study results showed that the creatine-supplemented muscles “displayed a greater proportion of non-damaged (intact) fibers and larger cross-sectional areas of regenerating and non-damaged fibers compared to CON (control) muscles at day 7 post-injury. At day 14 post-injury, CR-supplemented muscles generated higher absolute forces concomitant with greater contractile protein levels compared to CON and WP-supplemented muscles.”

Muscle-sparing benefits

Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that: “Creatine supplementation appears to offer an element of myoprotection.”

These findings suggest that the ability of creatine supplementation to aid muscle growth run far deeper than previously thought, which is in addition to its ability to regenerate and restore functional strength.

According to the researchers, these observations suggest that creatine supplementation both reduces the extent of muscle damage and/or enhances the growth of the regenerating fibres. They suggest that the structural improvements are due to increased cell fluid volume that occurred in the earlier stages of the study, which may underpin the benefits observed in the later stages of recovery.

READ MORE: Better together: Creatine and HMB

Beyond performance enhancement

A great deal of compelling research already exists that has proven the muscle-sparing benefits of amino acid and protein supplements for both endurance and strength athletes when consumed before and during intense or prolonged physical activity.

In contrast, creatine has to date been used intermittently as a means to fuel more sustained intense muscle contractions and aid recovery from heavy training blocks.

However, we now know that creatine’s versatility extends beyond a mere performance booster. Considered in this context, there should be no hesitation from gym-goers who are focused on improving aesthetics from making this supplement a more prominent component in their plans.