Creatine If, about 5 years ago, you were to tell an athlete there was a supplement (which was not an anabolic steroid or other bodybuilding drug) that would help bodybuilders and athletes pack on as much as 10 rock-hard pounds of muscular bodyweight (which could lead to better performance for athletes) in less then 2 weeks; increase their bench press by 25 lbs. (which also would help in enhancing performance) in a mere 10 days; “get a pump like you were loaded on Dianabol”(Phillips 48) (a pump that last for hours and hours which helps in muscle development); and, all the while, help you run faster, jump higher, recover from exercise more quickly, they would probably tell you to get lost. Well all these facts and more have now been proven to be effective on athletes. “Creatine is the safest, most effective supplement out on the market today,” says Ron Terjung, a physiology professor at the University of Missouri. Millions of men are buying the dietary supplement, hoping it is the magic pill that can transform them from scrawny to brawny. Creatine has made a strong impact on the athletic world giving many an edge on the competition and enhancing athletic performance.

The discovery of Creatine leads back to 1832. A French scientist named Chevreul, identified a naturally occurring organic compound in meat and then was later found to be manufactured by the liver, kidneys and pancreas using three amino acids. The scientist named the compound Creatine after the greek word for flesh(Phillips 8). Creatine is a compound that is naturally made in our bodies to supply energy to our muscles. It is an energy rich metabolite that is found mainly in muscle tissue.

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It is responsible for supplying the muscle with energy during exercise. Chemically, it is called Methylguanido-acid. Creatine is formed from the three amino acids, argentine, methionine, and glycogen that undergo a chemical process to form Creatine. Creatine is manufactured in the liver and may be produced in the pancreas and kidneys. It is transported through the blood and taken up by muscle cell, where it is converted into Creatine phosphate; also called phosphocreatine. This reaction involves the enzyme Creatine kinase that helps bond Creatine to a high-energy phosphate group. Once Creatine is bound to a phosphate group, it is permanently stored in a cell as phosphocreatine until it is used to produce chemical energy called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).

ATP then loses a phosphate group and becomes Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP). Creatine, when present in the muscle in sufficient amounts donates a phosphate group to ADP and it rapidly retransform to ATP, which is immediately available to the muscle to be used for a fuel for exercise. During brief explosive-type exercises, the energy supplied to rephosphorylate adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is determined largely by the amount of phosphocreatine stored in the muscle. As phosphocreatine stores become depleted, performance is likely to rapidly deteriorate, due to the inability to resynthesize ATP at the rate required. “Since the availability of phosphocreatine stores in the muscle may significantly influence the amount of energy generated during brief periods of high intensity exercise, it has been hypothesized that increasing muscle creatine through creatine supplementation may increase the availability of phosphocreatine and allow for an accelerated rate of resynthesis of ATP during and following high intensity, short duration exercises(Kreider 1).” ATP is the primary source of fuel for muscular exercise. It is used before sugars (carbohydrates) and before fats. When muscles are used to lift weight, run or perform any type of work the ATP is broken down to ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and energy is released.

The amount of ATP stored in the muscles will only fuel a maximum effort such as lifting a weight for 10 to 15 seconds. After that, the muscle must rely on Creatine Phosphate to restock its supply of ATP. Increasing the muscles supply of Creatine phosphate helps increase the rate in which the body can supply ATP. This increases the muscle capacity to do work and improves the energy level of the muscles. Typically, the average person metabolizes about two grams of Creatine per day, and the body normally synthesizes that same amount; thus, you generally maintain a Creatine balance (Bamberger 59), but “it is not uncommon for an athlete to have what is called Creatine deficiency.”(Phillips 15) which is not being able to create enough Creatine on your own.

In these cases through a more balanced diet or by supplementing Creatine in their diet they regain the balance. This leads to a point that proves in one way how Creatine has an advantage on enhancing athlete’s performance. Creatine is naturally found in foods. For example, the average helping of beef or fish contains about 1 gram of naturally occurring Creatine. Unfortunately, Creatine is very sensitive to heat and cooking virtually destroys the effectiveness of Creatine.

The amount of Creatine needed depends on the athlete’s body weight and on the number of days Creatine has been supplemented. Creatine should be loaded in relatively high amounts for the first six days of supplementation and then may be taken in daily dosage while maintaining positive performance. Creatine can bind water to the muscle giving an athlete a more muscular appearance. Competitive bodybuilders usually drop Creatine supplementation two weeks prior to a show to insure maximum definition and vascularity. Creatine has not yet been definitely linked to any adverse health effects, and thus has very few side effects. One side effect usually caused by over-dosage which some have complained about is stomach cramps. Reducing the intake of creatine in almost all cases has reduced cramps to little or none. Although no adverse side effects have been reported in the literature from clinical trials, concern has been raised by some physicians, athletic trainers, and dieticians regarding: 1.) a possible suppression of endogenous creatine synthesis; 2.) a possible enhanced renal stress/liver damage; 3.) anecdotal reports of muscle cramping when exercising in the heat; 4.) anecdotal reports of muscle strains/pulls; and, 5.) unknown long-term effects of creatine supplementation(Kreider 2-3).

There are three theories today which answer the question, “How do dietary supplements work?”(Phillips 13) The first theory is.. when you have an adequate amount of a substance that your body needs. Take Creatine for example, “a human body normally only needs two grams a day.” That is the adequate amount or the minimum your body needs to stay healthy, but lets say you stored five grams of Creatine, which is the maximum your muscles could hold to give you a more optimal amount. The reason why an athlete would need more Creatine is that they exert more physical activity and burn more ATP than a standard person would. This makes him consume more body resources than the average person.

So, adding more Creatine to your diet would give you better results. The second theory states that “not all but most supplements have a mu …


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