If you want to be the best soccer player you can be, you may be considering taking creatine to enhance your performance on the soccer field. But before you get hold of this supplement, you want to know if it is actually a good option for soccer players. I’ve put together this article to help you make an informed decision.
Creatine is good for soccer players. Studies have shown that when soccer players use creatine monohydrate supplements, it leads to better performance of skills related to soccer, improved power in sprint and agility-related runs, and improved anaerobic performance.
Before disappearing and grabbing some creatine supplements, it’s essential to better understand what taking creatine means for you as a soccer player.
In this article, we’ll look at:
- The effects of creatine on soccer players
- The benefits of creatine for any athlete
- Natural sources of creatine
- And the potential side effects of creatine
Effects of Creatine on Soccer Players
The general benefits of creatine can help soccer players in many ways, and we’ll look at these in a moment.
First, however, I want to show you the results from some soccer-focussed studies that show how soccer players directly benefit from creatine.
1. Better Skills During a Soccer Game
In a study with a sample group of 20 young soccer players, creatine monohydrate supplements proved to be very useful to increase the performance of their skills related to the sport.
The team doing the research divided the athletes into two assigned trials. One group ingested 10-gram doses of creatine supplements three times a day for seven days, while the other group was on placebo.
After the supplementation, subjects went through a series of skill tests specific to soccer. The creatine group showed significantly better dribble test times compared to the placebo group. The outcome was similar for sprint power tests and vertical jump height as well.
During a game, these skills are vital to soccer players. Improved performance can help them make that winning goal or make them shine bright enough for better prospects in the future.
2. Increased Power and Agility
In a study conducted on a group of elite female soccer players, creatine supplementation proved to be effective for enhancing performance in agility and sprint-related tasks.
The research team divided the elite female soccer players into two groups. They assigned one set of players to a creatine group and the other to a placebo group. The research team conducted numerous tests that simulated a soccer game, and the group with creatine supplements came out with better results.
Comparing the initial test results with post supplementation tests results, the researchers found that the group on creatine supplements achieved faster times in both sprint and agility-related runs. I should also note that the creatine group had experienced increased body mass despite the enhancement in agility and sprint-related tasks.
Research showed similar results in a study conducted on soccer players to study the effect of creatine on high-intensity exercises related to the sport. Compared to the placebo group, the group on creatine supplements had improved repeated sprint test times and suffered from limited decay in jumping ability.
3. Improved Anaerobic Performance
In a systematic review and analysis of numerous studies conducted on the effect of creatine in soccer players, the research found that creatine supplements can have a favorable outcome for improving anaerobic metabolism and anaerobic power.
This is especially useful for soccer players since they need to make acute adjustments in their muscles and form to do various actions like short sprints, shots, and jumps.
If you’re looking for a guide on how to get fit for soccer, I recommend you check out my article – How to Get in Shape for Soccer.
Benefits of Creatine for Professional Athletes
Creatine is a chemical that occurs naturally in your muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during anaerobic exercises and gives your muscles more strength and mass. For this reason, most professional athletes use creatine to increase performance and muscle mass.
Moreover, it is present in most sports nutrition supplements.
However, a weight lifter and someone who needs to buff up has different needs than an agile athlete such as a soccer player.
Let’s look at the benefits of creatine that apply to any athlete, and I’m sure you’ll agree that these are also good for soccer players.
1. Enhanced Energy Production
ATP(Adenosine Triphosphate) plays a key role in muscle function and metabolism and is a rudimentary form of energy found in your cells. However, you can’t store this energy for more than 10 seconds of a high-intensity workout.
After you tap that storage, your body needs to make new ATP to keep up with high-demanding activities. That’s why you can’t sprint at your best speed for more than a few seconds.
Creatine supplements can help you build up stores of phosphocreatine in your body so that you can produce new ATP during high-intensity workouts.
A study shows that total creatine concentration increased drastically after taking creatine supplements for a six-day load period.
Moreover, the elevated concentration of creatine can be maintained with a mere 2gram per day supplementation after the six days. This allows you to tap into the extra energy reserve before you get fatigued.
Soccer players who need to work out for longer hours and improve their skills with more practice can benefit from that extra boost of energy.
2. More Power
SInce creatine supplements increase ATP production, it can also increase the power and strength of athletes.
For instance, a study on the effect of creatine monohydrate (the most common type of creatine supplement in the market) shows massive improvements in cycling sprints, increased bench press reps, and increased workload.
Another study on the effect of creatine supplements in college football athletes shows enhanced power output in the form of increased bench press reps, power clean reps, and squats.
The increased power output may help soccer players on the field and also help in their daily workout routine.
3. More Muscle Mass
Creatine is one of the few legal supplements that can effectively increase muscle mass. It has sound scientific support.
In one of the studies where research teams compared 250 supplements, creatine was the most effective for increasing lean muscle mass.
Another study shows that creatine can reduce myostatin, the protein that is detrimental to muscle growth.
While muscle mass may not be the priority of young soccer players, it can benefit players in the late stage of their career. Since you lose more lean muscle mass with age, creatine supplements can help soccer players maintain muscle mass for a slower reduction in performance and power.
4. Enhanced Memory and Brainpower
Creatine isn’t just for your muscles. It also concentrates in your brain and plays a vital role in the metabolic networks of your central nervous system and brain.
A review of several studies involving 281 individuals shows that creatine positively affects your reasoning abilities and short-term memory. This can theoretically help out soccer players develop better strategies and make quick decisions on the field.
5. Tackles Sleep Deprivation
Being an athlete isn’t easy, especially when you’re playing soccer in college. You have to keep up with the academic course and put yourself through an intense training routine for your upcoming soccer games.
Creatine supplements can help you tackle that issue. If you are sleep-deprived before a soccer game, ingesting a small dose of creatine can help you maintain your skill levels and cognitive abilities.
For specific soccer fitness training workouts, check out my article – Soccer Fitness Training: HIIT Workouts.
Natural Sources of Creatine
The great thing about creatine is that if you aren’t comfortable with supplements that come in a plastic jar, you can rely on natural sources of creatine. Creatine is abundant in the muscle fibers of animals.
Some of the best natural sources of creatine are:
If you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can find natural sources of creatine in:
- Pumpkin Seeds
- White Beans
Most people don’t usually need creatine supplements since the human body produces it naturally. However, if you want to gain more muscle or are an athlete, you may wish to add creatine supplements to your diet.
Even if creatine supplement doesn’t benefit soccer players directly in the field, it can help them achieve their athletic goals.
One of the most important areas to focus on to be a great soccer player is your endurance. For my top tips on how to improve in this area, check out my article – How to Increase Stamina for Soccer.
Side Effects of Creatine Supplements
Despite the numerous rumors on the internet and among athletes, creatine is one of the most researched and safe supplements if used in the correct dosage.
Neither the International Olympic Committee nor the International Society of Sports Nutrition has creatine on their banned substance lists. Both organizations consider creatine to be a safe supplement.
There are a few potential side effects that you should consider when taken creatine:
1. It May Lead to Weight Gain
Creatine supplements can increase your body weight both in the long term and short term. However, most of that added weight comes from increased muscle mass instead of body fat.
For most athletes, an increase in muscle mass is an advantage that brings numerous benefits. However, soccer athletes should be careful since they need to maintain agility and a light bodyweight to be more active on the field.
2. It May Cause Digestive Problems
One study showed that a large dose of creatine supplementation could increase the risk of diarrhea. For this reason, you may want to ingest it in acute quantities. The recommended maintenance dose of creatine is based on your body weight and is typically 2-10 grams a day.
Moreover, you should only buy creatine supplements from a trusted and high-quality brand to avoid harmful ingredients and additives.
3. It May Lead to Liver and Kidney Problems
Creatine can increase the level of creatinine in your blood.
The medical field uses this chemical to diagnose liver or kidney problems. However, several studies conducted for this purpose haven’t found the supplement to harm the kidney or liver.
Despite all the evidence of creatine being safe with no adverse side effects, it is a supplement, and you should treat it with caution.
Creatine is one of the most researched supplements that can help athletes, including soccer players. Several studies cited above show creatine’s efficacy for soccer athletes.
Even if you don’t get tangible benefits of the supplement on the field, it should help achieve your training goals as a soccer player.
Just remember, as with anything new, consult your nutritionist and coach before you get on creatine supplements.
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