Creatine was discovered in meat extracts in 1832 by a French
scientist named Chevreul. In 1923, scientists discovered the
average human body contains over 100 grams of creatine and 95% of
that is stored in muscle tissue. It’s chemical name is methyl-guanido-acetic
acid and it is sometimes called N-amidinosarcosine It is made in a
laboratory from two base molecules called sarcosine and cyanomide.
Creatine has a half-life of 6-8 weeks in the body. Saturation in
muscle is 20 mmol/kg of dry muscle.
Creatine is a compound that’s naturally produced in our bodies to
supply energy to our muscles. Creatine is mainly produced in the
liver from the amino acids Glycine, Arginine, and Methionine.
Creatine is transported from the liver into the blood and taken up
by muscle cells. 95% of creatine is stored in muscle tissue. Once
inside muscle cells may convert into creatine phosphate (CP) or
“phosphocreatine” by the enzyme creatine kinase to be permanently
stored until it is used to produce ATP (energy).
Typically, the average person metabolizes about two grams of
creatine per day which is also the amount that is synthesized; thus
maintaining a creatine balance.
After creatine is used in the muscle cells, it can be released to
spontaneously form creatinine, which is then removed from the blood
via the kidneys and excreted in the urine.
Creatinine is routinely checked for in blood tests and serves as a
crude marker of how well the kidneys are filtering the blood.
Although creatine supplementation may raise blood creatinine,
research suggests it is NOT toxic or harmful to the kidneys. A false
positive reading may occur on a blood test with creatine
One study, reported in the journal of Clinical Science in 1996,
revealed that men and women, ages 32-70, who used 20 grams of
creatine for 5 days, followed by a 10 gram maintenance dose for 51
days, experienced no adverse effects. However, this study did show
that blood lipid profiles were significantly improved, suggesting
creatine may play a positive role in minimizing the risk of heart
disease. (Earnest, et al.)
Creatine can be found in foods such as beef, salmon, and herring.
One pound of beef contains about 2 grams of creatine. It would be
very impractical to attain the high doses of creatine needed to
completely saturate muscle cells from whole foods. Creatine is also
degraded during cooking so it is very hard to get a large dosage of
creatine from foods.
Creatine’s ergogenic effects in the body include:
Cell volumization - It helps draw water INSIDE muscle cells which
may trigger protein synthesis and minimize protein breakdown,
creating an anabolic environment. (cellular hydration)
Creatine helps support the reproduction of ATP in muscle cells
increasing strength and explosive power.
Possible increases in anaerobic endurance.
Some evidence suggests it may act as a lactic-acid buffer and
improve recovery time from weight training.
It may act as an anti-oxidant according to one study.
Creatine supplementation may suppress your bodies natural creatine
production but after discontinuing a creatine supplement, the body’s
natural creatine production usually kicks in and muscle creatine
stores just return to pre-supplementation values.
Some research on creatine indicates that combining creatine with
protein and carbohydrates is as effective for stimulating creatine
uptake and retention in the muscle tissue as taking creatine with
carbohydrates alone. Stimulating insulin release has been shown to
enhance the transport and uptake of creatine into the muscle tissue
where it is used to support the reproduction of ATP (energy) and
enhance cell volume as well as possibly buffer lactic acid. The
study entitled “Protein and carbohydrate-induced augmentation of
whole body creatine retention in humans” was published in the
September 2000 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology and showed
that consuming 50 grams of protein and 47 grams of carbohydrates
with creatine was equally as effective in terms of creatine
absorption and retention as consuming 96 grams of carbohydrates
alone with creatine. So the creatine, protein, and carbohydrate
combination actually makes for a great post workout drink mix to
enhance recovery and help prevent muscle breakdown secondary to
Dosages- It is important to load creatine for five days by
consuming 20-30 grams of creatine daily. This allows for muscle
cells to be completely saturated with creatine. After the loading
phase, a maintenance dosage of 5-15 grams daily can be used to
maintain muscle creatine saturation. There was a study published in
the Journal of Applied Physiology last year that showed that
individuals taking 3 grams of creatine daily for a month and
bypassing the loading phase, can reach the same muscle creatine
saturation levels as if they loaded for 5 days using a higher amount
of creatine. Newer research
on the creatine transport system conducted by Walzel and associates
at the Institute of Cell Biology in Switzerland actually leads
scientists to theorize that taking a smaller dose of creatine more
frequently throughout the day can allow for much better absorption
and retention of creatine in muscle tissue by lowering down
regulation of the creatine transporters It maybe best to cycle
creatine 8-12 weeks on and then 4-6 weeks off.
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