Every Basketball Player Should Consider Taking Creatine. Here's Why...
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that helps to supply energy to cells in the body. It is one of the best supplements for improving strength and high-intensity basketball performance. It can be found in foods such as meat and fish, but it is often consumed as a powder.
In this article I will provide an overview of what creatine is, how it works and how to take it. I will discuss it's safety profile and simplify the science of creatine. Finally I will elaborate on how creatine is used by NBA athletes and how it can benefit basketball players of any level.
Below you will also find a list of our top 3 recommended creatine powders that you can buy online today. You can jump ahead and check them out here.
>> Alternatively you can shop the best selling creatine products here
What Exactly Is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid primarily found in muscle cells (95%), with small amounts also stored in the brain and kidneys (5%). Creatine helps you produce energy while lifting heavy weights or engaging in high-intensity exercises.
Your body's creatine levels are affected by many factors including:
- your diet and nutrition (particularly meat intake)
- exercise habits
- muscle mass
- hormone levels (IGF-1, and testosterone)
People who consume a lot of meat in their diet may already have saturated creatine stores in their muscles. However, even a generous serving of meat only has around 1g of creatine, well below the recommended amount of 3-5g per day.¹
Basketball players following a vegan diet are at a very high risk of creatine deficiency.
Both carnivore and plant based athletes can increase their stored creatine levels by taking supplements in the form of a powder.
How Does Creatine Work In The Body?
Topped up muscle stores of creatine via supplementation allow the body to produce more of a high energy molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
ATP is referred to as currency of the cell because it can be "spent" in order to make chemical reactions occur. The more energy required for a chemical reaction, the more ATP molecules must be spent. ATP is normally depleted after 8-10 second of intense activity. Creatine supplements can help you make more ATP so you can perform optimally for a few extra seconds.²
When it comes to basketball performance and strength training these extra seconds count!
Creatine offers many benefits for your athletic performance in basketball training and games.
Research has demonstrated that creatine supplementation can also lead to an increased workload, allowing for more work or volume per training session.³
Let's take a closer look at the science behind how creatine can boost your basketball performance.
How Does Creatine Supplementation Benefit Basketball Players?
There are many health and performance benefits that creatine can offer basketball players. However, the main benefit is that it can make you stronger, more powerful and look visibly more muscular.
Let's take a closer look at the science behind creatine and it's benefits.
Creatine Builds Muscle and Makes You Strong & Powerful!
Functional strength is vital for basketball players. A strong player can jump higher, get more rebounds and bully their opposition on the offensive and defensive ends. When combined with an effective weight training plan creatine can make you significantly stronger.
Scientific tests determined that just 28 days of supplementation increased the performance of well-trained strength-athletes by 15%.⁴
Another study found that adding creatine to a training program increased bench press one-rep strength by as much as 43%. Bench press strength has great carry over to the type of strength needed in the post and when boxing out.
Creatine can also be used to maintain strength and performance during training, as well as increasing muscle mass in intense overtraining.⁵
If you want to add some lean muscle bulk so you look and feel good on the basketball court then creatine is a great supplement for you.
Creatine increases muscle mass via:
- Improved cell signalling: Creatine has been shown to increase satellite cell signaling which leads to muscle repair and new growth.⁶
- Increased anabolic hormones: Studies show a rise of muscle building hormones such as IGF-1.⁷
- Increased cell water content: Creatine increases the water content of your muscles cells and may cause a cell volumization effect, which could play a role for muscle growth.⁸
- Lower protein breakdown: Research shows creatine may increase muscle mass by decreasing muscle breakdown.⁹
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Creatine Can Make You Run Harder & Jump Higher!
Scientific tests determined that just 28 days of supplementation increased the performance of well-trained strength athletes by 6% in sprinting activities.⁴ Having an increased anaerobic capacity on the court can allow you to maintain you powerful court sprints and vertical jumps for longer.
A study by Kirksley et al, revealed that just 6 weeks of creatine supplementation favorably enhanced vertical jump height and power output in collegiate track and field athletes following a jump training program.¹⁰
It may only be a few centimetres but hey every little bit counts when you are trying to learn how to dunk.
Negative Side Effects Of Creatine For Basketball Players
Professional academics have thoroughly researched creatine over the past 20 years as it is one of the most popular supplements on the marketplace. Their research shows that creatine has no serious side effects. In fact, creatine is the number one researched sports supplement of all-time.
There are still many critics and naysayers against creatine. Without proving it, these critics claim that creatine supplements can cause problematic weight gain, bloating and muscle cramps. Yes, you will gain a small amount of weight due to water retention. However as you train you will become a stronger version of yourself and be able to move this small amount of water weight around the court just fine.
Some claim that creatine can lead to kidney damage, liver damage, kidney stones, liver problems, and other issues.
These claims are not supported.
Multiple scientific studies have shown that creatine does not cause any side effects or long-term health problems. The International Society of Sports Nutrition considers creatine extremely safe.¹
Is Creatine Banned In Basketball?
While creatine isn't currently prohibited in any basketball leagues, supplementation is still controversial. Schools can't give creatine to their athletes. However, athletes are allowed to buy and take this supplement on their own.
Some people incorrectly claim that creatine is an anabolic steroid. This is completely false but the stigma does still remain amongst the uneducated.
How To Take Creatine
Creatine is simply taken with water or another liquid. It is pretty much tasteless, however it can be purchased in flavoured varieties and capsules for those who don't like the mild taste.
Most supplement manufacturers have settled on a single dose of 5g per day as gold standard, with many no longer recommending the loading phase protocol that was popular in the past.
Always check your own supplement instructions before ingestion.
The Top 3 Creatine Supplements For Basketball Players
Although there are many forms of creatine on the market today, creatine monohydrate is the most affordable and effective. Creatine monohydrate has also been extensively studied. Micronized creatine monohydrate is latest and most superior option. The micronized form dissolves more quickly in water and can be more practical.
There are few differences between creatine supplements, however. If you're considering buying a creatine supplement you should consider price and purity. Creatine is dairy, gluten and nut free.
We recommend that you choose a creatine manufacturer who has been independently certified of authenticity by a third party and that follows strict guidelines to ensure purity.
Here are our top 3 high purity options:
1. Creatine Monohydrate By Thorne Research
Thorne Research is NSF Certified and is known as one of the most trusted supplement companies in the world. Their super high purity Creatine Monohydrate is available in powdered form and can easily be mixed with water. One scoop provides 5-grams creatine monohydrate.
2. Creatine Monohydrate + Pre-Workout By Proven4
3. Micronized Creatine Capsules By Optimum Nutrition
Do Many NBA Basketball Players Take Creatine?
Although creatine has not been claimed publicly by any professional or NBA basketball players it would be silly of them to use it to their advantage. Many athletes are sponsored by supplement companies that sell creatine.
It is common sense to deduce that many NBA players would be smart to supplement with creatine intake to to help improve their power, strength, size and muscle tone.
Creatine is a natural substance found in the human body and is legal as a supplement to almost all leagues. Creatine is not banned by the NBA, WNBA or NCAA. As it offers an excellent safety profile I am sure that most NBA players would have dabbled with creatine supplementation during some point of their careers.
At Ball Till We Fall, we strive to deliver objective content that is accurate and up-to-date. Our editorial team thoroughly reviews all published science based articles in order to ensure content quality. The sources cited below consist of evidence from peer-reviewed journals, respected medical organizations and academic associations. Although we strive to deliver accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee to that effect is made.
- Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 18 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
- Persky AM, Brazeau GA. Clinical pharmacology of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate. Pharmacol Rev. 2001 Jun;53(2):161-76. PMID: 11356982.
- Becque MD, Lochmann JD, Melrose DR. Effects of oral creatine supplementation on muscular strength and body composition. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000 Mar;32(3):654-8. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200003000-00016. PMID: 10731009.
- Earnest CP, Snell PG, Rodriguez R, Almada AL, Mitchell TL. The effect of creatine monohydrate ingestion on anaerobic power indices, muscular strength and body composition. Acta Physiol Scand. 1995 Feb;153(2):207-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.1995.tb09854.x. PMID: 7778463.
- Volek JS, Ratamess NA, Rubin MR, Gómez AL, French DN, McGuigan MM, Scheett TP, Sharman MJ, Häkkinen K, Kraemer WJ. The effects of creatine supplementation on muscular performance and body composition responses to short-term resistance training overreaching. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004 May;91(5-6):628-37. doi: 10.1007/s00421-003-1031-z. Epub 2003 Dec 18. PMID: 14685870.
- Dangott B, Schultz E, Mozdziak PE. Dietary creatine monohydrate supplementation increases satellite cell mitotic activity during compensatory hypertrophy. Int J Sports Med. 2000 Jan;21(1):13-6. doi: 10.1055/s-2000-8848. PMID: 10683092.
- Deldicque L, Louis M, Theisen D, Nielens H, Dehoux M, Thissen JP, Rennie MJ, Francaux M. Increased IGF mRNA in human skeletal muscle after creatine supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 May;37(5):731-6. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000162690.39830.27. PMID: 15870625.
- Schoenfeld BJ. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2857-72. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e840f3. PMID: 20847704.
- Parise G, Mihic S, MacLennan D, Yarasheski KE, Tarnopolsky MA. Effects of acute creatine monohydrate supplementation on leucine kinetics and mixed-muscle protein synthesis. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 Sep;91(3):1041-7. doi: 10.1152/jappl.2001.91.3.1041. PMID: 11509496.
- KIRKSEY, BRETT; STONE, MICHAEL H.; WARREN, BEVERLY J.; JOHNSON, ROBERT L.; STONE, MEG; HAFF, G. GREGORY; WILLIAMS, FRANKLIN E.; PROULX, CHRISTOPHER The Effects of 6 Weeks of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Performance Measures and Body Composition in Collegiate Track and Field Athletes, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: May 1999 - Volume 13 - Issue 2 - p 148-156
Final Thoughts On Basketball Players Using Creatine As A Performance Enhancer
Creatine is the most cost-effective, safest, and affordable performance enhancing supplement you can take as an athlete.
Creatine can increase performance up to 15% in high-intensity exercise. It can also help you build muscle mass and strength when combined with an appropriate resistance training protocol.
Decades of research have shown that creatine is safe to use for long-term use. Overall, creatine supplementation is a smart option to consider for basketball players who want to get a physical advantage over the competition.