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creatine... for dancers?

Creatine – a powerhouse composed of three amino acids (methionine, glycine, and arginine), plays a pivotal role in fueling muscle contractions by aiding in the production of ATP, the body's primary energy source. While about half of our daily creatine needs are met through diet, primarily from seafood and red meat, the other half is synthesized by our liver, kidneys, and pancreas, and stored in our muscles.


Most highly associated with body guilders and gym rats, creatine has garnered attention for its potential benefits beyond bulking up. For dancers, whose athleticism demands peak physical performance and endurance, exploring the role of creatine supplementation could offer intriguing advantages.



benefits beyond the weight room

Traditionally linked with increased muscle strength and size, creatine supplementation has shown promise in diverse areas. Studies suggest it may facilitate faster muscle recovery, reduce dehydration, enhance cognitive function and brain health, and even mitigate the risk of conditions like sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass.



insights from research

A study featured in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition sheds light on creatine's impact on dancers. While the study's scope was limited, involving a small cohort of collegiate dancers over a mere six weeks, it yielded intriguing results. Those who supplemented with creatine witnessed notable shifts in body composition, including increases in total body weight and lean mass, coupled with potential reductions in fat mass, specifically visceral adipose tissue.



navigating the nuances

Despite these findings, it's essential to tread cautiously. The study's parameters may not fully align with the rigorous training schedules typical of pre-professional and professional dancers. Moreover, individual responses to creatine supplementation can vary widely. Therefore, while short-term supplementation may yield visually observable changes, adopting a nuanced approach tailored to individual needs and routines remains paramount.



practical considerations

So, how might dancers incorporate creatine into their regimen? Dr. Gabrielle Lyon recommends a daily intake of up to 5g for women adhering to vegan or vegetarian diets. Myself, I will continue highlighting that dancers should aim to balance protein consumption, from a variety of sources, throughout the day. Added focus to a post-dance/rehearsal snack that’s rich in both protein and carbohydrates, further supports muscle recovery and overall performance.



conclusion

Creatine, often hailed as a staple in the weightlifting world, holds intriguing potential for dancers seeking to optimize their physical prowess and endurance. Dancers continue pushing the boundaries of athleticism and artistry, innovative avenues like creatine supplementation may pave the way for enhanced performance and resilience on stage and beyond. Research will continue revealing benefits and, while that’s happening, a personalized approach, informed by scientific insights and practical considerations, is best for dance nutrition.




References

Brooks, S.J., Candow, D.G., Roe, A.J., et al. (2023). Creatine monohydrate supplementation changes total body water and DXA lean mass estimates in female collegiate dancers. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 20(1). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36960692/


Cleveland Clinic. (2023). Creatine. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17674-creatine


Lyon, G. (2023). Forever Strong. Atria Books; New York, NY.


Mayo Clinic. (2023). Creatine. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-creatine/art-20347591


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I'm a Nutrition Educator & Wellness Coach based in and serving Washington, DC and the DMV region. My lifestyle-focused method has successfully helped clients achieve personal results and enhance athletic ability, eMpowering performance in class, rehearsals, and on-stage. As professional dancer myself, I have gained nutritional balance and improved my own relationship with food through many years of practice and a Masters of Science in Nutrition from University of Bridgeport. I bring this depth of personal and academic experience to a variety of clients, particularly performance athletes and fitness enthusiasts. In my spare time, I teach yoga and manage Ballet Embody, a professional contemporary ballet company.
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