What Is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid (amino acids are the building blocks of protein) which is made in the body by the liver and kidneys, and is derived by supplementation or from foods like wild game, fish such as tuna and salmon, chicken and lean red meat. Creatine (creatine monohydrate) is a colorless, crystalline substance used in muscle tissue for the production of phosphocreatine, an important factor in the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the source of energy for muscle contraction and many other functions in the body.
What Does Creatine Normally Do In The Body?
In the body, creatine is changed into a molecule called “phosphocreatine” which serves as a storage reservoir for quick energy. Phosphocreatine is especially important in tissues such as the voluntary muscles and the nervous system which periodically require large amounts of energy.
Why Do Athletes Take Creatine?
Studies have shown that creatine can increase the performance of athletes in activities that require quick bursts of energy, such as sprinting, and can help athletes to recover faster after expending bursts of energy. Creatine is best for those who strength train at least 3 times per week. It helps increase muscle mass, rather than muscle endurance, so it is not well suited for athletes participating in endurance activities.
Why Have I Been Hearing So Much About Creatine And Neuromuscular Disorders?
Two scientific studies have indicated that creatine may be beneficial for neuromuscular disorders. First, a study by MDA-funded researcher M. Flint Beal of Cornell University Medical Center demonstrated that creatine was twice as effective as the prescription drug riluzole in extending the lives of mice with the degenerative neural disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Second, a study by Canadian researchers Mark Tarnopolsky and Joan Martin of McMaster University Medical Center in Ontario found that creatine can cause modest increases in strength in people with a variety of neuromuscular disorders. Beal’s work was published in the March 1999 issue of Nature Neuroscience and the second paper was published in the March 1999 issue of Neurology.
I Want To Start Taking Creatine – Is It Safe?
Creatine is the most researched supplement in the health and fitness industry. To date, studies do not indicate that there are any long-term health effects resulting from creatine supplementation and it is deemed safe.
What Are The Side Effects?
In a study of side effects of creatine, diarrhea was the most commonly reported adverse effect of creatine supplementation, followed by muscle cramping and dehydration.
Benefits Of Creatine
- Increases athletic performance
- Increases strength muscle mass
- Beneficial for muscular disorders
- Current research suggests that it may be beneficial as a study and cognitive aid
- Supplementation can aid those on plant-based diets who do not get enough creatine through food consumption
When supplementing, it is recommended to take 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate before and/or after resistance training. As previously mentioned, it has not been shown to significantly improve cardio performance but it has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation and therefore could be used by runners to aid in the recovery process after long bouts of cardiovascular activity.
Committed To Your Health,
Brian Donovan is a certified fitness and nutrition coach, and the founder of Online Fitness Coach, LLC – an online fitness program where clients get direct coaching and personally tailored training and nutrition plans. Coach Brian was voted Chicago’s “Best Personal Trainer” by Chicago Reader magazine, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. He has been featured in magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, Chicago Reader, Voyage Chicago, and The PTDC as well various other health and fitness blogs.
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