Creatine, Beneficial or Waste of $$$$$?
Having finally resolved to work out at the gym, you sweat and toil for weeks on end only to look in the mirror and see little to show for it. It’s the paradox of the New Year’s resolution exerciser. Seeing physical results can help exercisers stay true to their fitness programs, yet for many it takes months to achieve noticeable muscle changes. Creatine Monohydrate has become the most popular supplement in the world among individuals interested in body-building and fitness. As you probably know creatine (usually in the form of creatine monohydrate) is a supplement taken to enhance anaerobic performance. Creatine Monohydrate is a white, odorless crystalline powder, clear and colorless in solution. With its popularity, you may find creatine at any health or sport product retailer. It sells for roughly $35 a bottle, and is distributed by many manufacturers.
Creatine serves as an energy reserve in muscle cells. Muscular contraction is powered by the breakdown of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to ADP (adenosinediphosphate). When all the ATP is broken down, creatine phosphate in the muscle donates a phosphate group to ADP, and further energy reactions can occur. Creatine monohydrate is a precursor to creatine phosphate. By supplementing with CM, CP levels in muscle apparently are maximized, and more muscular work can occur, since there are greater energy reserves to use.
Approximately 95% of the body’s creatine supply is found in the skeletal muscles. The remaining 5% are scattered throughout the rest of the body, with the highest concentrations in the heart, brain and testes. A skeletal muscle itself does not produce creatine, but utilizes the creatine originating in the liver and kidneys.
The human body gets most of the creatine it needs from food or dietary supplements. Creatine is easily absorbed from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream. Rich dietary sources of creatine include red muscle meats (beef) as well as fish. Creatine, however, is sensitive to heat and cooking, and the full amounts available in these food sources may be reduced during normal preparation. When dietary consumption is inadequate to meet the body’s needs, a limited supply can be synthesized from the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. This creatine production occurs in the liver, pancreas and kidneys.
The bottom line is that your ability to regenerate ATP depends on your supply of creatine. More creatine, more ATP remade, and more ability to train your muscles to their maximum potential. It’s that simple. This greater ATP synthesis also keeps your body from relying on another energy system called glycolysis, which has lactic acid as a byproduct. This lactic acid creates the burning sensation you feel during intense exercise. If the amount of acid becomes too great, muscle movement stops. But if you keep on using ATP because of all the creatine you have, you can minimize the amount of lactic acid produced and actually exercise longer and harder. This helps you gain strength, power and muscle size; and you won’t get fatigued as easily.
Creatine has also been thought to enhance your body’s ability to make proteins, although there is yet no definite proof of this. Creatine, though, is believed to help absorb intracellular water in muscle cells by bloating the muscle with creatine rich fluid. This allows for greater leverage and requires the muscle to move less and lift more weight. While this may seem kind of trivial, some researchers today think that one of the stimulating factors of steroid use is water retention. Anabolic steroids may actually work in part because of cellular fluid retention in the muscles. The swelling action and the related stretching of the cells may in and of itself cause a reaction which stimulates the muscle cells to grow. So in some respects creatine might be as good as steroids.

Whether you’re an accomplished athlete or you’ve just started an exercise program, you need to know about creatine. Many supplements touted over the years as muscle builders have come and gone, but creatine is here to stay. Creatine has many benefits, but also has its shortcomings. You must be well-informed before using this nutrient. Nausea, upset stomach, dizziness or weakness, loose stools or diarrhea are the most common side effects, and generally occur with dosages greater than 5 g a day. Muscle cramping is also commonly reported. Sprains and strains can occur when individuals over enthusiastically and rapidly increase their workout regimen before their tendons and ligaments are adapted to the increase in muscle size. Long-term consequences of daily creatine ingestion, especially in high dosages, are currently unknown. There is a strong possibility that excess creatine can put stress on the kidneys. Individuals with kidney disease should not use creatine.
The most benefit will likely be noticed by body builders or anyone who wishes to have more muscle mass. It is still unclear whether athletes involved in endurance activities such as marathon running or long-distance bicycling will benefit from creatine supplementation. There have been anecdotal reports that people in these sports may benefit, although other studies show that creatine either does not help or may actually hurt. The difficulty in these situations appears to center on the increased muscle mass which creatine provides. While that’s great if you’re a bodybuilder or wrestler, it can be a detriment if you have to carry all that weight around during a marathon or triathlon. It becomes a tradeoff between the increased strength you get from creatine and the increased muscle mass. Further research will provide us with more definitive answers as to what role creatine supplementation can play in endurance-type sports.
Creatine seems to be well-studied in scientific research. Scientific evidence supporting creatine is there, but while some very good results have been reported, like 20 pounds body weight gain in 6 weeks and increase in strength, others have reported no significant gains whatsoever while taking the supplement. Like all supplements, supplementing creatine is useless if your body already has enough of it. Further supplementation is then not needed and just a waste of money. If however, you do not have the optimal levels of creatine in your muscle cells, then supplementation is a good idea which can really enhance your training. Some people get minimal or no effect from creatine. This is probably due to their already high creatine levels due to dietary intake or perhaps the efficiency/inefficiency that they produce ATP. If you take creatine monohydrate and don’t notice any results in about 2 weeks it’s a good bet that you’re one of these people. Once you plateau, your muscle cells will probably be saturated with creatine and since the body loses about 1-2% creatine a day you should be able to get away with cycling on and off creatine to lengthen your results. Once you stop creatine supplementation and your body clears it 100% (about a 2 month process) you’ll probably be back at your old strength and muscle mass levels. Of course the gains in mental ability (I’ve done this before I can do it now) and tendon/skeletal strength increase resulting from these heavier workouts will remain.
You must also be aware of the proper usage of creatine. Usually, the use of creatine is split into a loading and maintenance phase. During the loading phase, large quantities of creatine monohydrate are taken. Because the creatine only slowly disappears from the body, a maintenance phase in which less creatine is taken will still provide the body with adequate levels of creatine. For suggested duration of the phases and quantities see below.

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Creatine (creatine monohydrate) dosage derived from works by Pierre Dahl (nutritionist at NSTC in Stockholm, Sweden) and professor Hultman (at Huddinge Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden)
BodyweightPhase 1 (loading)Phase 2 (maintenance)
65-74kg 143-163lbs10g per day (2x5g per day)3g per day
75-84kg 165-185lbs15g per day (2×7.5g per day)4g per day
85-95kg 187-209lbs20g per day (2×10 per day)5g per day
NSTC mentioned above is an abbreviation for Nutrition and Soft Tissue Center.
Note: it is discouraged to use caffeine while on creatine; while creatine makes your muscles hold water, caffeine will do the opposite, thereby reducing the effects of the creatine intake.
* Don’t mix creatine with citrus juice. Orange, grapefruit, cranberry, in fact, most fruit juices have been most recently found to neutralize the activity of creatine monohydrate. The reason is the waste product creatine develops. A lot of you put creatine on your tongue and drink it down with grapefruit juice. If you have taken creatine this way in the past, stop it now! You are not getting creatine, you’re getting waste product.

* Do mix creatine monohydrate with warm water–in a glass. This is the only way to ensure you’re getting the full benefits of creatine in its dry form. Creatine does not have to dissolve to be effective.

* Do be sure to drink a full eight ounce glass of good water 8 times a day. Creatine pulls water from other parts of the body to perform its work in cell volumization of the muscle. This is what makes the muscle larger and firmer. Replenish your H2O!
My opinion is you should not waste your money on creatine or any other supplement product. Your body is the product of millions of years of evolution and everything you need to make it strong and healthy has been provided for you by God and nature in so-called healthy “regular food”. There truly is no need to take supplements of any kind. If you really think creatine is going to give your workouts an extra boost, eat a serving of lean meat every once in a while. You will be getting all the creatine your body needs at 1/100 the price of a jug of powder! There are studies that say all the creatine is destroyed when the manufacturer makes it into a powdered form. Why would anyone pay $35 for a supplement when it might not even be physically there anymore? And tell me the truth, can you afford to pay $35 on a regular basis? Even if the powdered form of creatine were better than the creatine in meat, which it isn’t, you would go broke buying the stuff every week? My advice to you is to take that $35 and buy bananas, potatoes, chicken, fish, rice, pasta, etc. You will be surprised how many bags of groceries $35 will buy you. If you want to get big, stay big and healthy for life, and not go broke buying useless supplements, here is how to do it: get enough sleep every night, make a habit of eating nutritiously, exercise regularly, dont drink alcohol or smoke, and finally be consistent.

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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. 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 mutating effect (Phillips 15).” 1.) “By
volumizing your cells to hold more resources then normal(15).” 2.)
“Create a drug like effect on cellular processes(15).” With this
scenario, the dietary supplement can exert a positive effect on muscle
metabolism and/or performance. The third theory and most important relating to
my paper states that a supplement might help you build muscle, enhance athlete
performance and improve your health by simply making up for the deficiency. This
has basically been what most dieticians, nutritionists, doctors, etc. have
viewed supplements as a means of protecting your body against vitamin and
mineral deficiencies and so on. Supplements have been widely used for decades as
a means of preventing serious, even fatal diseases, which are caused by nutrient
deficiencies. Thus, proving my topic by adding more Creatine to the bodies of an
athlete can enhance performance by replenishing the body with the most needed
resources. It is rumored that athletes in the former USSR and Bulgaria may have
been using Creatine to enhance athletic performance since the early 1970’s.

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While this may be true, the documented use of Creatine supplementation by
athletes was with British track and field competitors who competed in the 1992
Olympics in Barcelona. Creatine was given credit for powering several of the
British athletes who won gold medals. The London Times reported (August 7, 1992)
that Linford Christie, the 100meter gold medallist, supplemented with Creatine
before the 1992 Olympics, and a European magazine called Bodybuilding Monthly
reported that Sally Gunnele, the 400 meter gold medallist, also used Creatine.

The London Times also reported that Colin Jackson, the champion British
110-meter hurdler, used Creatine before the Olympics (Bamberger 61). Shortly
thereafter, U.S. champion athletes began using Creatine. Since then, scientists
have elucidated more secrets on how to best utilize Creatine for optimal
benefit. Now, champion athletes and bodybuilders around the world swear by
Creatine’s effects. Now in the 90’s Creatine has major use in all sport
categories, “At least one quarter of all major leaguers now use the
substance. That number is at least as high in professional hockey and
basketball, and perhaps 50% of NFL Players take Creatine. Among Olympic
Sprinters, cyclists and weightlifters, those who do not use Creatine are harder
to find than those who do. Bodybuilders live on the stuff. Boxers, too.

Innumerable ordinary weekend athletes use it. It’s everywhere (Bamberger
62).” When I was a sophomore in high school, I was first introduced to this
miracle drug called “creatine.” Many of the guys on the football team
were taking this, and soon did I. I did not really know what this white powdery
substance was, but all I know is that it seemed to jump my weight up 10 pounds
within about three weeks. My weightlifting max’s seemed to be increasing and I
was full of energy. Some of us would “load” just before a football
game to give us that extra boost of energy. To us, it seemed like legal steroids
with no side effects. Creatine seemed to improve performance for short-duration
activities like our 40 times, bursting off the snap of the ball, and our
weightlifting max’s. What I found was in order to make creatine effective, you
must work out at least three times a week consistently. Most people do not
notice any difference until about three weeks into the cycle. A recent study
followed 19 men who lifted weights regularly over 12 weeks. Those taking
creatine registered an average 6.3 percent gain in fat-free body mass, compared
with a 3.1 percent gain in those not taking the supplement(Timberline 1). In
1981, an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. l.

Silila. Reported that supplementation with Creatine in a group of patients
suffering from a condition called Gyrate Atrophy (a genetic ailment of the eyes
caused by a metabolic inability to efficiently metabolize ornithine and
synthesize Creatine). Improved the test subject’s strength, increased their
bodyweight by ten percent, and partially reversed the Type II muscle fiber
atrophy associated with this disease(Silila 867). One athlete in this group of
test subjects improved his best time in the 100-meter sprint by two seconds. In
1993, a study peer reviewed and published in Scandinavian Journal of Medicine,
Science and sports (Balsom 143) demonstrated that Creatine supplementation could
significantly increase body mass (in only one week) and that it was responsible
for improved performance in high-intensity intermittent exercise. Over the past
4 years, at least 20 separate university studies have demonstrated that Creatine
monohydrate supplementation increases athletic performance; strength;
recuperation; speed in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter sprints. A lot of factual,
scientifically proven data shows Creatine monohydrate works. It produces fast
and significant results even in the most rigorous trials(Casey 31). The goal of
the bodybuilder and most athletes is to use progressive resistance exercise to
force the muscles to adapt and grow in size and strength. This increased
workload or progressive resistance can be achieved in several ways: by
increasing the force of contraction through increased resistance such as when
lifting a heavier weight, by increasing the duration of time that the muscle is
under tension or contracted, and by increasing the frequency of exercise.

Creatine helps in all three ways: it helps build lean body mass which allows
still greater force to be used; provides energy so the duration of exercise or
work can be lengthened; and speeds recovery, so exercise frequency can be
increased. I have also personally benefited from the use of Creatine. I have
benefited from all of the above, but have also gained more personal respect and
confidence for myself from the results I have accomplished with the use of
Balsom, P. “Creatine Supplementation and Dynamic High-Intensity
Intermittent Exercise.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine, Science and
sports 3 (1993): 143-149. Bamberger, Michael. “The Magic Potion.”
Sports Illustrated 4 (1998): 58-61. Casey, A. “Creatine Supplementation
Favorably Affects Performance and Muscle Metabolism During Maximal Intensity
Exercise in Human.” American Journal of Physiology 271 (1996): 31-37.

Creatine. Available online. Address.
Creatine Monohydrate Frequently Asked Questions. Available online. Address. Phillips, Bill. Sports Supplements
Review. Golden, Colorado: Mile High Publishing, 1996 Kreider, B. Richard. “Creatine
Supplementation.” (Internet)
Silila, I. “Supplementary Creatine as a Treatment for Gyrate Atrophy of the
Choroid and Retina.” New England journal of Medicine 304 (1981):
867-870.(Internet) Timberline, David. “Muscles for Sale: Is Creatine Right
for You?” (Internet)
What is the Deal with Creatine? Available online. Address.
Health Care


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