Creatine Protein Carbohydrate Supplements?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Oilers Jersey

The above photo is of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers.  Obviously, I’ve made a few updates to to this article which was originally published nearly four years ago to the day.

Granted, many of those who read my blog probably don’t follow the NHL let alone hockey, but there are those who’re athletes in different sports.  In his draft year, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins weighed roughly 160 lbs soaking wet.

Much like the sport of football (American), size is a heavily valued asset in hockey as well.  So much so that RNH who was drafted #1 overall (2011) in what was perceived to be a weak draft year, was cut from Team Canada’s World Junior Team of the same year.  There were even questions as to whether or not he would make the Oilers this season (2011) due to his lack of size.

Currently, RNH or “The Nuge” as Oilers fans know him, is top 10 in the NHL in scoring (December 15, 2011).  As a fan of the sport of hockey, watching him play the game is something that just makes you marvel.  Pre-draft talk of him having the best vision since Gretzky sounded overblown at the time, but much less so now.

How is it that in a violent, physical sport such as hockey where size is a heavily valued asset, that a ~170 lb kid can be among the league’s best in scoring in his rookie year?

To be sure, scouting is a difficult task and in some cases players have the combination of all-world skill along with being incredible physical specimens which makes the task far easier.

Take Shea Weber who plays defense for the Nashville Predators.  He’s currently known as one of the best defensemen in the game.  Today (at age 26), he’s listed as 6’4″, 232 lbs, and has roughly a 103 mph slapshot.  He can skate for miles.  Much like in basketball, being tall confers a significant advantage to NHL defensemen especially considering the reach advantage (with their sticks).  For Shea Weber, his value as a player pretty much smacks you upside your head.

In the case of RNH, Ken Hitchcock who provided this quote prior to the start of this season probably described him best:

“Oh I tell you what, that Nugent-Hopkins is going to be one hell of a player…  I’ve seen him play a lot, and he’s got that half-a-frame faster development of the play in his mind’s eye than everyone else. The great players have that ability.”

Okay with that digression aside, let’s take a look at how effective creatine and protein supplements are with respect to muscle hypertrophy.

From the original post:

A recent study found that creatine had an additive effect to protein/carbohydrate supplements used alone in terms of increasing muscle hypertrophy (Cribb PJ et al, 2007).

Study 1:  Creatine Protein Carbohydrate Supplementation:

Study Background:

“PURPOSE: Studies attributing gains in strength and lean body mass (LBM) to creatine monohydrate (CrM) during resistance exercise (RE) training have not assessed these changes alongside cellular and subcellular adaptations. Additionally, CrM-treated groups have seldom been compared with a group receiving a placebo similar in nitrogen and energy. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a CrM-containing protein-carbohydrate (PRO-CHO) supplement in comparison with a supplement containing a similar amount of nitrogen and energy on body composition, muscle strength, fiber-specific hypertrophy, and contractile protein accrual during RE training.”

Study conclusions:

“CONCLUSIONS: In RE-trained participants, supplementation with Cr-PRO-CHO provided greater muscle hypertrophy than an equivalent dose of PRO-CHO, and this response was apparent at three levels of physiology (LBM, fiber CSA, and contractile protein content).”

Summary:

In short, Creatine supplementation resulted in more muscle hypertrophy than protein/carbohydrate supplementation alone.

Study 2:  Effects of whey isolate, creatine, and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy:

In a similar study largely by the same authors, they conducted an 11-week study which randomized participants to four groups:  protein, carbohydrate, creatine + whey protein, and carbohydrate + creatine.

Other than the finding that all groups outperformed the carbohydrate only group in terms of muscle hypertrophy and 1 rep max strength improvement, the other findings showed a fair amount of heterogenity.

 

References:

  1. Cribb PJ, Williams AD, Hayes A.  A creatine-protein-carbohydrate supplement enhances responses to resistance training.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Nov;39(11):1960-8.
  2. Cribb PJ, Williams AD, Stathis CG, Carey MF, Hayes A.  Effects of whey isolate, creatine, and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Feb;39(2):298-307.