The Role of Creatine in Health, Wellness and Performance

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN

wendy-irlbeck-catalyst-podcast
Catalyst - Health, Wellness & Performance Podcast

Full Transcript

Dr. Cooper

Welcome to the latest episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Bradford Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute. And it’s very likely, you’re hearing a lot about creatine recently. It’s no longer something reserved for gym rats. Rather the research is pointing to benefits for Brain health, sarcopenia balance and much more. So as a result, we reached out to registered dietician and performance coach, Wendi Irlbeck. If you know Wendy or you follow her on Twitter, you know, she lives out our desire here on the podcast to stay focused on the evidence, not just the headlines. You also know all about her energy levels and while you can watch the video version of this interview over at youtube.com/coaching channel, you’ll get a sense of that energy, even without the video portion. For those looking to pursue certification as a health and wellness coach, you’ve likely missed the opportunity for this weekend’s kickoff training. You can certainly reach out to us just to make sure, but our next one is teed up for March 13th and 14th. If you’d like to join us, then feel free to contact us [email protected] If you want to talk over the specifics or how it might fit with your career, or you can visit CatalystCoachingInstitute.com for details and registration. Now let’s listen in as registered dietician and performance coach Wendi Irlbeck opens the doors to new opportunities surrounding creatine for all of us, even if we’re not pumping iron on the latest episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching podcast. Well Wendi, this is a pleasure I’ve been following you on Twitter for a long time. You’ve just got such great information and you can feel your energy through Twitter. How rare is that? So thank you for joining us, super excited. The focus of today is creatine. We will probably chase a few rabbit trails along the way, but welcome to the show.

Wendi Irlbeck

Thank you so much for having me, Dr. Cooper. It’s been an absolute pleasure just learning a little bit more about you, and I’m very honored to be a guest here and thank you for the opportunity.

Dr. Cooper

Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s gonna be fun. So set us up a little background on creatine. When did people start using it? I think of it historically, I know there’s a lot of new data we’re going to talk through, but historically you think it’s the meatheads, you know, you go in the gym. Yeah, you’re taking your creatine and that’s not the way it is anymore. It’s so much more. So can you give us a little background on where it came from, where it, you know, how it has historically been used and then maybe walk us through the last few years and how that’s starting to change for maybe your regular folks, endurance athletes, women, maybe adolescents, et cetera.

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah, absolutely, Dr. Cooper. So first and foremost, I just want to do a full disclaimer. So I’m a registered dietician nutritionist. Um, I read the literature, I read the research. I work with people on a one-on-one basis, young athletes, masters athletes, those in-between the general population. So if you have a brain or a beating pulse, this definitely is for you. And that narrows it down for everybody. Creatine is for everybody, um, thanks for providing that little bit of background, cause I, I like to, you know, really highlight the experts that are studying creatine and then being able to communicate their research. I just want to, full disclaimer. I don’t study it. I like to read papers and help others navigate that science. So, yeah, diving in. So first and foremost, um, to the ladies out there, I always, you know, I have a huge passion for promoting health and wellness among ladies. Don’t fear creatine. Right? Let’s talk about the basics of it. First and foremost, it is three amino acids, arginine, glycine, and methionine. Um, right. And it is compromised, you know, 95% in skeletal muscle and then the other 5% plus or minus in the brain. So just talking about the basics of it, it is not a steroid, this also addresses some of the myths out there as well. It has anabolic properties. Structure is not the same as a steroid. It functions similarly, but it’s not right and that’s one of the biggest myths out there. So even ladies I’ve worked with not picking on them, I get it. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, right? But it’s not a steroid. It’s not going to make you gain weight. Um, and we’ll talk about that too in the drawing the water into the cell, but in fact, it can actually help you lose weight, improve your body composition, improve your cognitive function. Um, and going back to again, the basics of what it is. So those three amino acids aside it can help create the ATP. So adenosine triphosphate, which is the cells currency for energy. So when we talk about creatine is for everybody, well, again, if you have a brain, if you have a pulse it’s for you, because we want that high energy source, we want to cognitively function at our best, whether that be in the boardroom, the classroom on the field. So thinking in terms of going back to the basics, three amino acids, we can get it through meat, fish, poultry. Um, we can also take a supplement creatine monohydrate. And the goal of it too, is to increase our intramuscular creatine stores. So we can try to do that through food sources, but according to the literature and all the studies that I’ll provide you with that you can put in the show notes, we are unable to do that at a sufficient capacity. So that’s where the supplement is necessary. So I always want to do a full disclaimer to food first of course, but again, the literature is consistent in which we are unable to sufficiently increase, not only our muscle, but our brain, um, and then even with our cardiac, our heart tissue too. So it’s beneficial to obviously provide that supplement, to increase those levels, which is practical in the sense of if I want to be my best. And I want to cognitively have this, you know, high energy source ATP, which we all want for muscle contraction again, because if you have a brain, muscles a beating pulse, that’s for you. So I digress.

Dr. Cooper

No that that’s where we’re going with this. It’s going to be a rabbit trail episode. So that’s great. So, all right. So it’s for everyone. Where, where did it transition from the meatheads to the general population? Was there kind of a shift? Was there one big study that came out and said, come on people, we all need this, or is it just been a gradual drip, drip, drip over the last two decades of moving from the gym to the boardroom, as you said.

Wendi Irlbeck

Yes. Great. Um, I do want to back up and say first off, cause many people are unaware, but interesting historically 1828 by a French chemist, uh, Michelle Chevron. I’m not French, so I’m going to say that right, um, so that’s actually, I mean, it’s been well studied for many, many years. So over time it shifted not only first off, they were looking at it actually from a sense of, you know, cognition and even brain health. And yeah, in the, I can’t remember what year, 1996 Olympics, whatever year it was, that’s where they were obviously utilizing athletic performance. They were focused on that. And then over the last 20 years, I would say things have really shifted to more of a clinical aspect, looking more for bone health, for brain health neurodegenerative diseases or Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s disease, even looking at traumatic brain injuries, you know, concussions cause again, right with the neuroprotective effects of what it’s offering and ATP production. All of that aside, we are having this shift and even type two diabetes. And I’ve referenced this in a blog that I wrote back in March, I would say over the last 20 years. And you can, the big key players with creatine research to go look up would be Dr. Darren Kendall, um, right. Roger Harris, Dr. Eric Rawson, um, and then professor Craig Sail, Jose Antonio, all those people are big key players and looking at this research, um, in a clinical aspect as well. So I think that it’s really important to understand that it’s shifting. And I know that over time, we’re going to see even more of that literature coming out and, and coming to fruition, even with those that are sleep deprived as well, which is really interesting Dr. Scott Forbes. Um, he’s also a key player and Dr. Darren Candela at the university, uh, Regina in Canada, and then Dr. Forbes is at Manitoba, just throwing out all these people. I get super excited about it, but I like to reference them because they are the experts. They’re the ones that are, you know, being full front, examining of the research and the literature to really look at, you know, from a clinical aspect beyond muscle. So, um, Eric Rossand for one, I’m just going to call out, he’s really amazing. He is, he’s been looking at the brain and the cognition, um, effects of creatine supplementation for many years. So he has really got me shifted in my practice as well, looking at not just for muscle, but also for brain, right. Whole body perspective, the whole picture. So things are shifting and it’s very promising and exciting.

Dr. Cooper

Yeah. Yeah. And there’s more than you than I realized with the sleep aspect. And you remind me of the retirees, the 70 plus pop. We’ll talk about that a little bit. What are some of the fads and falsehoods? Cause anytime something is amazing, it then gets sold as too amazing. It fixes everything. It’s great. You become Superman now. So what are some of the things that people might be hearing and you’re going to go, I hate to break it to you, but that ain’t happening.

Wendi Irlbeck

Right? So I think one thing, um, we live in a society that’s like, I want it now. And that’s what we expect. We expect results and we demand it now. So is not a, it’s not an, a magical fix, right? You can’t sit on the couch and utilize creatine and just grow muscle or you, I mean, you can improve your brain function according to the literature, but it’s best, uh, effects are observed with strength, training, walking, you know, movement, things like that. I would say to those out there, especially, you know, just unfortunately women, we all fall short to that. I’ve been there with not nutritional or supplements, but maybe even, you know, managing finances and it’s gotta be this, you know, magical way to just achieve all of our wildest dreams. I would say, let’s just take a step back and let’s really look at the basics and get back to the basics and understanding that there’s a lot of supplements out there. There’s a lot of fads. There’s a lot of misinformation and we need to be really mindful about the source of it. What are they pushing? Are they profiting from it? What does the science say? I mean, we need to just really steer clear of those fad diets because if our methods are not sustainable, our results won’t be. So that’s just, again, as a dietician, I want whole foods first. I want these, you know, sustainable habits to be put in place so that we can experience the benefits of some of these supplements, right? To supplement the gaps, to experience those advantages. But if we’re not sleeping well, we’re not hydrating. We’re not eating consistently, proper snacks. And again, adolescent athletes are my favorite because if I can get those habits built in early on, they can just be a catalyst.

Dr. Cooper

There you go. Boom, good call, good call out. Nice job.

Wendi Irlbeck

I love that, by the way. I love that you asked that and you know, for, I would say for a lot of people too, you have to understand that every phase of life is going to bring something different. So your way of eating, maybe when you were eating in your twenties is not going to work for you in your forties or post-menopausal. So we have to be willing to pivot and story of 2020 and shift and be willing to say, okay, this is my lifestyle. These are the types of things that I’m looking at. For example, when you’re in your forties and plus you’re fighting off age-related muscle loss, right? Sarcopenia is, should be top of mind. So eating more protein. Um, and that’s something too, you know, eating a higher protein diet is not a fad diet, in my opinion. Although some people think that it is because they over restrict carbohydrates, but eating more protein, right. A by-product of that is, you are sustained, right? As far as your hunger, you are able to maintain lean mass and even potentially build more mass if you’re strength training as well. But again, it’s not a fad. We need to focus on what are our sustainable habits and just eating according to our needs and our current phase of life, because that shifts for many people. And when you get older too you, you want to be able to bend over with your grandkids and feel good and sleep well. I mean, those are the key indicators of health. How are you sleeping? How do you feel what’s your energy like throughout the day? I mean, if you’re you know, restricting and dieting to the point where you’re miserable, um, and you don’t enjoy life, I mean, pros and cons. Is it really worth it?

Dr. Cooper

Right. Right. All right. So I was going to ask this later, but let’s jump into the, the dosage recommendations. The, does it taper off, you read some things about, you need to do X for the first two weeks, and then at that point, get into it. Like, are you saying no, no, no, no. It’s pretty simple. If you want this, it’s this amount, if you want this it’s this amount, is it per pound, uh, you know, milligram per pound of body weight, what do you recommend in terms of people saying, Oh, well, this is new for me. I, I need to look into this. How much should I be taking? Just follow the container recommendations or, or what would you suggest? And is it different for the person having sleep issues versus the athlete that’s in the gym?

Wendi Irlbeck

Yes. Oh, great questions. Okay. So first off always context is key. Um, so it depends, right? It depends on the person and what their current intake is like. So if you’re somebody that’s eating a lot of meat and fish and poultry, um, you don’t have to work on immediately. You know, um, how we say this, the loading phase, if you will, of creatine, you know, adding in anywhere from 30 grams per day for up to five years has actually been, uh, pointed out in the literature. It’s not only safe, but very healthy in infants to elderly. And that was reported in one of the position stand papers. But that loading phase depends on the person, the athlete, their goals. So just giving out, you know, simplicity, examples here for someone that is maybe, you know, they’re consuming some meat sources. I would say you are able to start with, you know, healthy two to five grams every day. And just again, the goal is to increase those intramuscular creatine stores, because again, talking about the effects, we want to support skeletal muscle recovery, right. And then even, you know, brain health and cognition, because we want that increase of ATP production for those desired goals. So five grams a day is safe. It’s effective, make sure you consume it with water and then carbohydrate helps with the absorption. Um, and then using that in warm water, um, or, you know, hot tea or even coffee, that’s what they first studied it and tested it with, which I didn’t really know too much about. Um, but you can also put it in your Greek yogurt. You know, the, the research is indicating that it’s best consumed post-training, but you can still experience effects pre-training. And I know that a lot of people get hung up on that too. So again, summarizing the dose, starting off with three to five grams per day, and then also post-training is best, but you can have, it pre-training really any time of the day is as long as you take it.

Dr. Cooper

And is it better spread, is it better doing, say three grams after you work out and then two grams around dinner time? Or is it like, it doesn’t matter, Brad, you want your three to five grams? Just get it in there.

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah. I would say according to the research, Brad, just get it in. And I’m going to defer to, you know, the researchers for some of these things. I mean, really getting stuck up in the details when you’re an elite athlete, maybe those things matter, but here, you know, just a regular workout. Yeah. Just like myself. Okay. Just do three to five grams after your training session or in the morning, um, is totally fine. But you just want to maintain those creatine, those intramuscular creatine stores. That’s the whole goal, right. Is just to maintain that so that you can experience those effects.

Dr. Cooper

Now I thought I saw either you or somebody else tweet something out about you don’t necessarily want to combine it with caffeine. Didn’t you make a comment about that the other day? So is that within an hour? Is that in any guidelines on that window that you’re talking about when you say, well, it’s probably best not to have it right around the caffeine time. Is that not the same time? Or is that not within three hours or do we know?

Wendi Irlbeck

I’m glad that you brought that up, Brad. Yeah. So you’ll, uh, those that consume the creatine with the caffeine are going to experience a lot of GI distress and discomfort. It’s best not to consume it with caffeine.

Dr. Cooper

So same outcome. Just you’re going to suffer a little bit. Yeah.

Wendi Irlbeck

Yes. And that’s another thing too, going back to the myths many people think like, well, I get all these, you know, cramps, cramping, it’s bad for my kidneys. It’s bad for my bone health. You know, just talking about some of those myths and fallacies. Okay. It’s not going to cause cramping. What causes cramping is when you don’t consume sufficient fluids all day. Right? The whole day approach, people are so quick to point out, Oh, it’s the creatine that’s causing this weight gain or these muscle cramps. It’s not the creatine. It’s your inability to drink sufficient fluids throughout the day to maintain hydration. Okay. And then keeping in mind too, that some people do experience some GI distress when they don’t consume it with a meal or carbohydrates. That’s why best, if you can consume it after your training session with protein and carbohydrate. And what I always tell my athletes is right. We want to consume 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes, along with 50 grams of carbohydrates. So then adding in that five grams of creatine would also be a great way to do so.

Dr. Cooper

Okay, perfect. And that doesn’t change if I’m sitting here saying, Ooh, I didn’t know it helps sleep. We’re not talking an athlete here. We’re telling somebody that’s listening to this going well, that’s an issue for me or my friend or my client again, coach, just to remind you that it’s out of your scope of practice, don’t recommend creatine. But if it comes up in the conversation, would you say the three to five grams is the appropriate amount, regardless of what your goals are?

Wendi Irlbeck

That’s what has been proven as a very safe and consistent level to maintain that, keeping in mind that I can’t remember what the washout period for creatine is. You’d have to follow up with Dr. Tim for this. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Cause I’m not sure. I would say, I mean, if you’re somebody, for example, you’ve been consuming creatine, you eat, you know, relatively consistently meat, fish, poultry sources, and you have a bad couple of days where you don’t sleep well, I would still say five grams is sufficient. You’re going to experience those benefits and then focus on getting more sleep. Right. Because creatine is like the sprinkles on a cake. Right.

Dr. Cooper

Right. And then in terms of that three to five grams, you mentioned a loading period. If you’re eating a lot of meat, fish, chicken, et cetera, probably don’t need the loading period. What about the person that says I’m a vegetarian or I’m vegan or something like that? Should they do 10 grams for four weeks or any general guidance for that person?

Wendi Irlbeck

Yes, absolutely. So you’re a vegetarian or vegan. I would absolutely do a loading phase of at least 15, um, for four weeks. I mean the literature goes all over. It’s across the board. So I’m just, I have some notes here, but the, uh, 2017 position stand paper, they had some short and long-term studies up to 30 grams per day for five years. So that’s another thing too is context. Right. So it’s important that again, you are looking at the studies and saying, okay, am I on dialysis? Like, things like that, you’re, you’re obviously not going to be consistent with the population that’s been studied, but if you are a healthy individual, which again, most of us are, and you have a brain and a beating pulse, it’s going to be beneficial. Um, but I think that the loading phase is it’s kind of like going down a rabbit hole. So I’m going to defer to, you know, Dr. Scott Forbes, those people for that, but just, I would say for, you know, the, the moms out there, the females that are, you know, working out now, um, navigating these challenges during the pandemic, you can safely consume whether you’re a vegetarian or not. I would say five grams per day consistently would be the best. Okay,

Dr. Cooper

Good, good. And that’s an easy thing for us to remember. Well, you’ve done a great job with the evidence and we’ll keep popping into that. Let’s talk about various aspects specifically. So let’s hit strength, building endurance athletes, masters athletes, and then we’ll come back to kind of the general population and the retirees, but let’s just say each one of these separately. So strength building focus, any differences in your recommendations for the person listening and they’re saying, my real reason for listening to this podcast in the first place is I want to know, how can I get stronger, faster? What would you suggest for them? Is it different in terms of dosage? Is it different in terms of timing, what they take it with, or are the recommendations, the recommendations, regardless of which of these I’m laying out?

Wendi Irlbeck

Great. Yeah, I would say so, just thinking, in terms of, like you said earlier on Brad, you did a great job. It’s, it’s been so focused on muscle building, but then if you, if you want to get faster, it’s, it’s for endurance athletes too. It’s for all athletes, what I would say is, since it is driving a production of our high energy stores, it’s going to be best for sprinters. And we know that again, that dosing of three to five grams that’s been put out in the lecture. So I’m trying to reference my notes here. So this was a study published in 2016, three to four grams per day. Not only can it improve muscle mass, short-term high intensity and endurance, um, recovery following heavy resistance training. So if you want to get bigger, faster, stronger, again, it’s that three to five grams is kind of that sweet spot. And again, thinking in terms of post-training, it’s experiencing the best. I can’t remember what the exact study was, but, uh, Dr. Scott Forbes is recently on a podcast and he talked about this, comparing the dosage, keeping in mind to a lot of the studies are looking at men. Um, so women, yes. Just because we’re, we’re not a man, right. We can still benefit from it though, because the research supports that there are a few populations, but they compared the groups pre and post training. Um, and they still experienced, you know, muscle gain, muscle growth and maintaining that again, that intensity training.

Dr. Cooper

And it’s not tied to grams per pound of body weight or anything like that? So the 300 pound guy that could bench press me a thousand times, and me, who’s more of a distance runner, endurance triathlete. We’re going to still both look at that three to five grams where there’s not, a lot of times with protein, for example, there’s a certain amount per kilogram of body weight, but really not with, with creatine, it’s such a small amount in the first place. The difference is between 5.6 grams and 4.8 grams. You’re knocking a little off your, your spoon when you throw it in your smoothie.

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah. That’s a great question. But to be honest, I don’t know those details well enough. I know that there are dose dependent studies out there that have really looked at, you know, 0.01 grams or whatever per kilogram, I guess, for me and my practice, again, I defer to the experts. People really struggle with that conversion of like grams to even pounds. That’s why I always say that three to five grams, but five to seven grams. I’ve had some of my powerlifter athletes we have when we’re really going through our strength phase. We’ve cycled up to five to seven grams for six weeks. Okay. So, so some subtle changes. It has some subtle and subtle changes, but absolutely. So again, yeah, I’m not going to quote that. I know that I don’t know the specifics, but I know Dr. Rawson and Dr. Scott Forbes, they have published, you know, grams per kilogram, things like that.

Dr. Cooper

And then endurance athletes, you kind of touched on it when we were talking about the strength training, any differences there, and we’re gonna talk about masters athletes in a minute. So some very specific questions about that, but any tweaks with the endurance athletes that they should be doing, should it be a little bit more on the days they have their long ride or should it be more on the days they’re in the weight room versus out of the swimming pool, anything like that, that you’ve seen in the literature or experienced personally in your practice?

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah. I have a few cyclists in the South, um, and Texas in particular. So they utilize creatine every single day. Um, especially even on rest days are still consuming that five grams, but on some of those heavier volume days, they may do 10 to 12 grams and load it for yeah for four weeks or we par it back again. It’s looking at the diet first too. And again, I know that I said that you can’t increase those intramuscular creatine stores with whole foods, but we have to keep in mind too, that for many of these athletes that are training for hours, especially endurance, they already have a lot of GI distress, right? Yeah. So that’s where again, the myths comes out of creatine of like, well, no, that’s the problem. No, it’s more hydration. And the osmolarity of some of the gels and things that they’re doing too. So just keeping in mind again, application is, can you just because the science says this, so that’s why I defer to that’s great, but this is what we’re doing. And so some of those higher volume days, right, they are definitely doing more creatine just like they would protein there’s that misconception that higher protein intake is not great for endurance athletes. And I would argue that’s very reckless because they’re breaking down those tissues. We need more protein back. Some of my endurance athletes do three to four times the RDA of the protein recommendation, right? Because you’re breaking down those tissues, the same thing speaks for creatine. So if we want to make sure that we recover and we decrease those of injury and support that ATP production, then we want to have a higher load to support the higher load that we are exerting in our training.

Dr. Cooper

Okay, good. And then with the endurance athletes that are masters athletes, or even strength training, masters athletes, it seems even more important. You mentioned sarcopenia that, you know, that kicks in late thirties, early forties continues to get worse. It’s a, it’s a major aspect for all of us, even for health, forget the athlete part. So still though coming back to the three to five, it’s the general recommendation and maybe a little extra on those big days?

Wendi Irlbeck

Yes. And again, I hope that those that are listening or maybe a creatine expert and someone can jump in and send some information, I would say yes, again, just maintaining those muscular creatine stores. Right. And looking more. So, uh, excuse me, seven to 10 grams for some periods of time, maybe during distress and high training. Um, again, going back to, as we age and fighting off some of those things and even our cognitive functions supporting that, um, I would say that again, our brain is a really important tissue. It takes up about 20% of our energy expenditure, right? So we want to support that. And as we age things start to decline and cognitive function, you know, goes down. So that’s where I would say creatine is even more important for the aging population, um, and for bone health and things like that too. So I think that the research is really promising and it’s really exciting as more continues to surface. And who knows where we’ll be in 20 years as we age, I just can’t express enough. I know that it’s scary to think I had this conversation two years ago with someone in Michigan about, you know, their grandma is 90 and just declining really quickly. And I said, why don’t we incorporate some why not? And they’re like, no, my grandma’s not a weightlifter. Right. But here’s the deal. This is the mechanism of action, right. It can actually help support cognition. It can help with memory recall, right. It can decrease some of the inflammation going on and promote some of that healing, just like it’s being implemented in a clinical population with traumatic brain injuries and things like that. And then it completely changes the conversation. So that’s where I really like to address is just like, what is the mechanism of action and how it can apply to all these populations, Brad. So I will get off that too.

Dr. Cooper

Let’s stay on that for a second, because I think a lot of people listen to it and go wait a minute. So my grandmother could be benefiting from this really like, and again, come back to same thing. And I love simplicity. I like taking the complex and trying to make it very digestible. And you’re doing a great job with that today. You’re saying, so for your grandma, who’s 92 and still doing okay, but we’re starting to see some decline. Why not? Like there’s no downside three to five grams started, keep the activity going as best she can and move from there.

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah. Especially with the really cool, interesting research about, you know, just our prefrontal cortex and the impact that creatine has. I mean, even those fine motor skills too. And again, like grandma, um, is grandma aging, myself included. Sometimes I feel like a grandma I’m, I’m pointing outside because it’s Minnesota and there’s ice out there too. Right. Okay. So it’s important for everybody in the sense of, if I want to have a quick response to a reaction cause it’s icy and I don’t want to slip and fall and fracture something or break a hip cause that can be life ending for any older adults that’s important. And we know that there’s a type two fibers to that quick, fast Twitch fibers really, really important for that older population as well. And we lose those fibers as we age. And you know, when we don’t use them, we, we lose them. Right. But that’s important for reaction time. Right. And again, fighting off the, you know, the falling on the ice and some of those fractures that could be life-ending. Um, it, it’s not just for our brain, but for our whole body. So that’s what nutrition is. And, you know, as a dietician, right, we want to experience all the benefits. And if we can, through this inexpensive way, would it be for all populations and infants included. Okay, good.

Dr. Cooper

All right. You answered that next one already. Let’s touch on the kids. You said infants, any suggestions we’ve talked offline about the research isn’t great in this area. So Wendy is extrapolating a little bit here, but let’s talk about the 14 year old. Who’s starting to get into a little bit of weight training for football or basketball or something. Let’s talk about the post-surgical kid that, you know, he broke his leg. Is there a benefit to doing a little bit more of that? Let’s just talk through the, let’s not talk about the three-year-olds right now, but just the 13, 14, 17, 18 year olds. What, what should parents be looking at? What should coaches be thinking about with this?

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah, absolutely. Brad. So first off, I’m just going to, again, full disclaimer and I want to repeat myself, but it’s about the fundamentals first sleep water, right? Hydration. Yes. I just want to say that, because context is key and I am a proponent of creatine supplementation, but if athletes are coming to me, the first conversation that we have is what are your habits? What is your daily breakfast, right? Yeah. So after we have all those, you know, preliminary conversations, they give me an idea of like what they’re eating. Um, we talk about eating less fiery Cheetos. No more string cheese.

Dr. Cooper

I know that’s a big one, no more string cheese. What are the kids going to do?

Wendi Irlbeck

No string cheese in place of the cheetos. Um, but after we talk about all those things in, this comes up. When I speak at clinics and conferences, the coaches will say, well, my kid wants to gain strength, you know? And again, it’s that same conversation. What are they eating? So after we’ve addressed all of those important fundamentals, then we look at okay, creatine monohydrate, it can be a really great supplement, right? Especially if they’re high risk sport, if they’re playing, you know, soccer, rugby, football, ice, hockey, all of those things that are high risk, stress fractures, concussions. Absolutely. I would say according to the research, there currently is no reported adverse effects and is also found in a review done by Dr. Andrew at the university of lacrosse. Uh, Chad Kurzy and Patrick Hardy is studying underneath. So they have done this great review and they’ve indicated again that there’s no reported adverse effects they’d compiled it, it’s phenomenal. It’s fantastic. And as a practitioner, I like to always err, on the side of caution and ethical. So if an athlete is doing all the basics and they’re executing things on a high level and they are in a high risk sport, I would say comfortably, safely, here are the risks associated because supplements, there is that risk factor for contamination. Um, and we’ll talk about NSF approval, but here are the pros and cons to taking it. Um, what I say as a practitioner, yes. This could benefit you. Absolutely because of the mechanisms of action. Um, but I’m not going to say this is a magical supplement. That’s the gateway to all of your wildest dreams, right? It can help you. Um, it’s not going to hurt you according to the current literature, but we just don’t have sufficient data like we do in the adult population to say a hundred percent. But again, we don’t have 100% data too at the adult. So I go back and forth on this. But I would say again with the kids, I just want them to do the fundamentals and yes, ethically, I feel according to the literature, I can confidently say, yes, you could consume this. You’re not going to have any concerns or issues because there is literature studying it in the younger population. Um, but again, according to the American college of sports medicine and the American Academy of pediatrics, they are not recommending it to less than 18 years of age. So I am a registered dietician. Um, and again, I like taking the science and communicating that in terms of, um, application. But again, I still think that we need more robust studies in the young population to have more confidence to have those conversations.

Dr. Cooper

You touched on a word that grabbed some people’s attention concussions. Let’s talk about that a little bit because that’s been in the press like crazy the last five, six years with the NFL, getting more involved with the movie that came out with Will Smith. Um, people are seeing it with car wrecks and their kids or their parents or whatever. Talk through what you’re reading about the impact with creatine in terms of concussion. And again, it’s always that icing on the cake, as you mentioned, this is not a miracle cure by any stretch in any of these situations, but what are you seeing? What are you reading about in terms of concussion impact?

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah, very promising. They’re indicating that they’re recovering quickly. Um, they’re experiencing less, um, you know, spatial awareness, like memory, recall cognition, those motor skills are coming back at a quicker rate. Um, and they’re experiencing again, better cognition following that supplementation. And I divert back to my notes here because this was reported when they were looking at those with, um, traumatic brain injuries and concussions, right. There’s evidence to support that it can improve that ability to recover and regenerate. And again, when we talk about the brain health too, and that, you know, creatine, we want to support that in our brain as well. We want to increase that 5%. Um, that’s really important. So increasing that ATP production, that higher energy source is going to help again, support better cognition and, and that firing in those neurons that neuro protective effects are going to be induced if you will.

Dr. Cooper

And is that similar with, you mentioned Alzheimer’s earlier, you mentioned brain health in general, any additional components people should consider with that?

Wendi Irlbeck

Can you tell me more about what you’re looking for?

Dr. Cooper

You talked about earlier as you went through this almost laundry list of benefits for the aging population, a great list. Um, you mentioned Alzheimer’s and again, like concussions people went, wait, what did she say? Alzheimer’s wait, tell me more. So tell us more. What, what do we know about creatine and its potentially beneficial influence on Alzheimer’s pre diagnosis? And is there any post or is it like, it needs to be part of your life leading up to that point? Once the diagnosis is there there’s nothing that says it’s going to help in any insights in either one of those.

Wendi Irlbeck

I would say. Yeah. So according to Dr. Eric Roston and um, Dr. Darren Karen Bell, they’re doing a lot of research in the aging population and looking at some of these clinical populations and they’re finding that people are able to have an improvement in their cognition and memory recall. Um, I don’t know the specific statistics or what percentage that is, but they are finding that it is beneficial and it’s, it’s supportive of a more positive outcome. Right? You can’t prevent things like that, but you can certainly help influence. Um, so I would say that that information is really promising. So grandma would definitely benefit grandma, grandpa would definitely benefit from that. Um, just because we know that, you know, that mechanism of action that takes place within the body and within the tissues and the brain. Um, and again, focusing on the fact that that energy currency for the cell, if we have more available energy, um, for ourselves to function, if we think about it from that perspective, we have better cognition, better function, again, better memory recall. Um, but thinking in terms of sleep, that’s where we tie in that sleep aspect too. It’s just like an athlete or someone, right. That’s trying to exert effort and they can’t go, right. So if we have less ATP, we have less ability to contract and to fire, right? So that’s where I think like with brains and our function, right? If things are slowing down and there’s this regression, if we can consume creatine or supplement with creatine, monohydrate in and support a greater production of our ATP, that higher energy source, that’s going to positively affect our movement. Our memory recall our awareness, all of those things will be positively effective in it’s like thinking in terms of that window of opportunity, post-training, it’s not going to hurt you to consume protein and carbohydrate and creatine right away. It’s only going to help you. So why wouldn’t you.

Dr. Cooper

How far off are we from this, I hope this actually doesn’t happen, but you’re seeing food companies add supplements of all sorts. You’re seeing protein in everything now, Hey, get your Cheerios with protein. Well, maybe I should pour some milk on it, but what, how do you think that’s coming? Where creatine is seen as this safe thing. And so they’re going to start adding it to cereals. They’re going to start adding it to protein bars or is your sense? No, no, no, no, no, no. Then that gets us up to very easily, 20, 30, 40 grams a day. And now it starts to get dangerous.

Wendi Irlbeck

That’s crazy. I don’t know that there is a dangerous amount. I’ll just say that. Yeah, but fortification of things. Oh, that’s so funny. I actually did see this past summer when I was traveling. I did see Powerade Gatorade has dialed into this. They have fortified, their Powerade, zero drinks with creatine.

Dr. Cooper

They have? Interesting. I did not know that.

Wendi Irlbeck

See, I think then again, it’s that misunderstanding too of that. Okay. Well there’s zero calories in it too. So everything that it is without a carbohydrate, we know that the absorption rate is not as great. And people need to remember that with supplements too, Brad, during a pandemic everybody’s popping high dose vitamin C antioxidant supplements, just because you consume something does not mean that you absorb it so you have to remember that. So you’ll just excrete it, right? Just like really expensive pee, exactly. If you want to do that now. Um, personally, I don’t, um, I think that it, again, just go, okay. So taking a step back, going back to what you would truly ask. I think there are a lot of probably protein bars and the more things are being fortified. Um, but then keeping in mind too, that just because something is on a label, doesn’t mean like a young athlete or even an older adult is going to use that because we eat with our eyes aesthetically, if a product doesn’t look good, we’re not going to touch it. So I think that that’s also something to keep in mind too. This is the creatine monohydrate I use. And I think that it’s important to show people. You can see this. Can you see this?

Dr. Cooper

Yeah. And you know, you’re getting into the, the don’t have the carry over into some, some tainted product is what we’re focused on here. Yeah.

Wendi Irlbeck

This is important. So just like with anybody, right. Inform sport approved that it’s so making, making sure that it has the informed choice check mark it’s been, third-party tested. It actually contains what it indicates on the label. Um, because if it doesn’t right, there’s that risk for contamination and that’s something with supplements versus whole foods. You don’t have to worry about that. Granted, there are there’s cross-contamination with foods, but that’s a whole other chapter.

Dr. Cooper

Let’s come back to that. So everybody catches that. What, what were the three that you want them to look for informed?

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah. So informed choice has the green check mark, I say to my young athletes. Okay. And then it’s informed sports. So NSF approved, if you want to make sure that it’s been third party tested so that it’s free of any banned substances, there’s over 270 plus banned substances, um, that have been found in supplements. So that’s why I tell people, be very cautious with these things. They’re regulated. Supplements are regulated, but they’re not regulated as much as our pharmaceuticals as much as our medicines. Right? So that’s really important to note, but again, creatine, creatine monohydrate is not a steroid. It’s not going to harm you. It’s not going to hurt you, but you need to ensure just like I could go grab a multivitamin that could also be laced with sawdust or rat poison. We need to make sure that we’re looking at our labels. I think that there’s something to be said about people who are just, you know, they look at something and they just grab it and assume that it’s going to help them. Like you said, with fad diets, Brad, to your point, we need to stop and read the label. We need to stop what we’re doing. Take the time to acknowledge that what we’re putting in our bodies has an effect to a set capacity. It can help us, it could hurt us. Um, but we just got to stop, read the label, make sure that again, it’s NSF approved, it’s informed choice. It’s it’s safe, um, of any banned substances, um, because I could create a supplement, um, and you know, put it on the market next week. I won’t do that.

Dr. Cooper

One more question for you kind of as a wrap up, but before that, how do people follow you? What’s the best way to keep track of what you’re up to? What’s your website, give us all that good stuff.

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah, absolutely. So nutrition with Wendi is my website. I offer one-on-ones consultations. I work with sport coaches. I work with the general population, aging adults, occupational therapists, health professionals. You can follow me on Twitter. I’m very active @WendiIrlbeck. And then my Instagram is NutritionwithWendy. Um, I love connecting with people and engaging with people and, um, you know, just really grateful for opportunities like this, to have conversations with people that are only not doing the research, but also in the trenches and stuff. So very grateful to be here today. Brad, thank you so much for having me.

Dr. Cooper

Yeah, absolutely. So last question, just kind of a wrap up. What have we missed? What final words of wisdom final, Oh, Brad, you’ve got to ask me about this. What, what else do we want to throw out to people? Or if you feel like we’ve hit it all, just a couple of points you want to drive home that we’ve talked about.

Wendi Irlbeck

Yeah. Oh gosh. I would just say, you know, summarizing today, is that creatine is safe for everybody. I, I strongly feel, you know, ethically, professionally, everybody could benefit from creatine monohydrate um, make sure again, you take what, uh, we talked about with NSF informed choice approved. Um, it’s going to help you. It’s not going to hurt you. It’s safe, it’s effective. It can benefit endurance strength, power athletes, cognitive function. Um, but first and foremost, choose whole foods. Eat the rainbow, right? Create a balanced plate, high quality proteins, focus on sleep, shut the TV off, please. Everyone just take care of yourselves right now. Be kind, be graceful and you don’t have to eat perfectly. Um, but it’s important to eat well right now. And to make sure that there’s something colorful on your plate. That’s what I want people to walk away with today is eat the rainbow. And exercise. Exercise is medicine.

Dr. Cooper

Great way to wrap up. Exercise is medicine. Food is medicine, exercise medicine. We got all this medicine. We can get everybody very good, Wendi. Thank you so much. It was really a privilege.

Wendi Irlbeck

Thank you for having me, Brad.

Dr. Cooper

I don’t know about you, but following this interview, not only Suzanna and I dial this in on a personal level, but I also discussed it with my parents who are in their early eighties based on everything that Wendi shared with us. Thank you for tuning into the number one podcast for health and wellness coaching. Next week’s guest on our special 150th episode is none other than Dr. BJ Fogg. Best-selling author of tiny habits, small changes that change everything. If you can’t wait for the podcast, we released an unedited video version for our subscribers over at youtube.com/coaching channel that you can access right now. As always feel free to reach out to us with any questions about all things, coaching at [email protected] or visit Catalystcoachinginstitute.com to find a whole bunch of tools and resources that will be helpful in all those arenas. You can also pick up your new, be a catalyst shirt or hoodie or sticker for your water bottle via the link provided in the description with all profits, 100% of profits going to charity in the coming months. Now let’s go be that catalyst, that person who helps make a positive difference for our clients, our communities, and our world without burning ourselves out in the process. This is Dr. Bradford Cooper, of the Catalyst Coaching Institute. I’ll speak with you soon on another episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching podcast, or maybe over on the YouTube coaching channel.