Mayur Deshpande
  Personal trainer in Mumbai
Nutritional Supplements Library Creatine

Nutritional Supplements Library

Creatine


History of Creatine

What is creatine?

What are the benefits of Creatine supplement?

What are the side effects of creatine?

Which things should be avoided when you are on creatine?

Which is the best form of creatine?

Is it safe for women to use creatine?

Why do have to increase the water consumption while taking creatine?

What is the right technique (effective dosage) to improve the efficiency (absorption) of creatine?

Why it is logical to take before and after your workout?

Which are the unanswered questions concerning creatine?


History of Creatine

Creatine was discovered in meat extracts in 1832 by a French scientist named Michel Eug?ne Chevreul discovered it as a component of skeletal muscle which he later named creatine after the Greek word for flesh, Kreas. In 1912, researchers found that ingesting creatine can dramatically boost the creatine content of the muscle. In the late 1920s, after finding that the intramuscular stores of creatine can be increased by ingesting creatine in larger than normal amounts, scientists discovered creatine phosphate, and determined that creatine is a key player in the metabolism of skeletal muscle. In early 1923, scientist discovered the average human body contains over 100 grams of creatine.It is recently come into public view following the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. An August 7, 1992 article in The Times reported that Linford Christie, the gold medal winner at 100 meters, had utilized creatine prior to the Olympics, and an article in Bodybuilding Monthly named Sally Gunnell, gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, as another creatine user. Then it has been getting famous primarily by word of mouth advertising.


What is creatine?

Supplement form of creatine is a white, flavorless, odorless and crystalline powder, clear and colorless solution.The chemical name for Creatine is methyl guanidine-acetic acid. Creatine is a compound that can be made in our bodies or taken as a dietary supplement. Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid which helps to supply energy to muscle cells.Creatine functions as part of an ATP-CP energy system which ensures that the free energy of ATP remains high and minimizes the loss of adenosine nucleotides, which would cause cellular dysfunction. In the human body, creatine is synthesized mainly in the liver by the use of parts from three different amino acids - Arginine, Glycine, and Methionine,then it is transported in the blood and taken up by muscle cells where it is converted to creatine phosphate(also called phosphocreatine) and store there until it is used as chemical energy. 95% of creatine is later stored in the skeletal muscles, with the rest in the brain, heart, and testes. The average human body contains over 100-120 grams of creatine and uses 2 grams of creatine per day to maintain proper energy metabolism. This same amount is normally resynthesized by the body.
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One pound of beef contains 2 grams of creatine so does pound of salmon fish. Herring (fish) contains 3 grams of creatine per pound.Fish provides both a direct source of creatine as well as an adequate supply of dietary methionine(essential protein) for new creatine synthesis.Remember, heat (cooking) degrades creatine,so,increases the amount you need to eat to obtain a given amount of creatine.


What are the benefits of Creatine supplement?

• It provides additional energy for your muscles, a great increase in muscle strength.
• It increases the size of your muscles
• It Buffers Lactic Acid build-up in muscle to increase performance.
• It enhances Protein Synthesis
• It also Increases hydration of muscle.


What are the side effects of creatine?

• Few studies have evaluated the side effects of creatine supplementation on biochemical markers of kidney and muscle stress. They measured levels of creatinine and normal byproducts of creatine, in urine and blood, therefore they claimed,the real reason behind this is, unabsorbed creatine gets converted to creatinine & excreted.
• Recently, there has been a lot of talk about creatine causing cancer. This concern initially arose from the fact that certain carcinogenic agents (AIAs) are produced in meats when exposed to high temperatures. The connection between creatine and cancer stems from the fact that meats with higher creatine content produce more of these cancer causing agents WHEN COOKED. The French agency for food safety, AFSSA (Agence Fran?aise de S?curit? Sanitaire des Aliments), thus alleged that creatine supplementation, since it increases our muscle creatine content, increases our chances of developing cancer. It remains to be clearly demonstrated, however, that these same cancer causing agents are produced within the human body. In other words, in a person that isn't cooked! Moreover, some experiments performed on isolated tumor cell lines maintained in tissue culture have demonstrated just the opposite. That is, creatine had either no effect, or even suppressed tumor cell growth.
• Body weight gain attributable to creatine could be considered a disadvantage in certain sports where the body has to move from one point to another. For example, in distance running creatine supplementation could impair performance because more energy is required to move a heavier body weight.
• During supplementation of synthetic creatine, your body's own synthesis of creatine is depressed but this is reversible. When you stop taking supplements elevated muscle creatine stores will drop very slowly to normal levels over a period of four weeks (Greenhaff, 1997)
• While no direct cause and effect relationships between creatine ingestion and any negative side effects have been documented in the scientific literature, adverse reactions including minor gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, dehydration and muscle injury. However, there is no clinical data to support these statements. For a healthy individual, creatine is in no way harmful for the kidneys. This was proved by a recent 5 years study conducted in Belgium and published in med sci sports exerc, 31(8):1108-10 1999 august. Its conclusion was "Neither short term, medium term nor long term oral creatine supplements induce detrimental effects on the kidney of healthy individuals. Since it has the effect of fluid retention in muscle, it might increase blood pressure in the same way high sodium levels do, but this has not been established or proved." New studies are being done all the time. The best we can do is operating with the data we have in front of us. Do not abuse creatine, use it in moderate dosages. It is wiser to take any nutritional supplement with 'on and off' policy, means you should consume it for 45 days, then a gap of equal period and then repeat the cycle again.CREATINE IS 99.99999% SAFE AT MODERATE DOSAGES AND IN CYCLIC FASHION.


Which things should be avoided when you are on creatine?

• Don't drink alcohol and coffee (diuretics) whilst on it.
• Don't overdose.
• Avoid dehydration.
• Don't take any Fat Burners, Thermogeinc products, or anything like Cutters, or Ephedra, Ephedrine, Synephrine etc. products.


Which is the best form of creatine?

Creatine monohydrate (powder) is the most widely available form of creatine.It looks like is a white, flavorless, odorless and crystalline powder. Although other from of creatine, such as creatine phosphate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine citrate, creatine pyruvate, di-creatine citrate and creatine malate are available but there is no evidence that they are better absorbed. Creatine can come in powder, liquid (serum), pill, gum or effervescent powder form. All the claims and information available on these creatine forms are in the advertising, marketing spin produced by the companies that sell it.
You can also get creatine monohydrate combined with carbohydrate, taurine, and glutamine and amino acids, all of which claims to make creatine more effective. Studies have shown that insulin can stimulate creatine transport into muscle cells, therefore some manufacturers have added 35-100g carbohydrate (glucose & its polymers), and this high glycemic index carbohydrate causes an increase in insulin which, in turn, drives the creatine into the muscle cells. Professor Roger Harris, at University College of chicester, who was one of the first scientists to research on creatine, claims you can get just as good results by taking basic creatine monohydrate with a drink containing carbohydrate, rather than as part of a more expensive commercial formation. The aim is to take creatine while you have a higher blood concentration of insulin.Since it is a scientific fact that creatine in a liquid breaks down into creatine in a short period of time the wise thing to do would certainly be to avoid such products .creatine will degrade quite rapidly in a liquid and the more acidic the liquid the quicker and more complete the degradation will be. So the conclusion is very simple, avoid all prepackaged liquid creatine supplements until a valid scientifically devised method of stabilization is developed.


How does creatine work?

When a muscle contracts during high intensity exercise (5-10sec.) and exerts force, the energy used to drive the contraction comes primarily from a special substance in the cell known as ATP (Adenosine TriPhohsphate). You have other sources of energy such as carbohydrates and fat - but they take longer to convert into ATP. But when you are doing an intense quick burst activity - such as lifting a weight or sprinting, your muscles must contract rapidly and need a quick source of energy. When contraction is performed, in ATP the bond between the last two phosphate is broken, producing ADP (adenosine diphosphate).(ATP stores in muscle are limited. These limited stores can fuel approximately 5-10 seconds of high intensity work).Therefore, ATP must be continuously resynthesized from ADP.Another high energy naturally stored source called PC(phosphocreatine) begins to break down.PC donates his phosphate to ADP,to resynthesize ATP.But natural stores of both ATP and PC are limited to continue this ATP-PC system for high intensity workout.
Creatine monohydrate (supplement) stores in the skeletal muscle in form of PC (phosphocreatine), gives his phosphate molecule to ADP, to resynthesize ATP. The amount of work our muscles can perform is a direct consequence of the amount of ATP, they have stored as well as the ease with which ATP is regenerated with the help of PCr (phosphocreatine) during strenuous exercise. Think of ATP as the cell's energy currency and phosphocreatine as a credit card with an adjustable balance - the balance being set by creatine intake. In summary, creatine has two principal roles. One is that it maintains a high cellular ATP/ADP ratio.ATP is required for contraction so creatine acts as a temporal buffer to allow the ATP/ADP ratio to be maintained high during muscle contractions. The other role is that creatine acts as a spatial buffer in that creatine can act to shuttle energy across the cytosol from the mitochondria where ATP is being produced to the skeletal muscle where contraction is occurring.
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Is it safe for women to use creatine?

Yes. Women can and do take creatine supplements. Remember creatine does not create new muscle mass. What it does is give you energy to work out longer and harder. It is your workout routine that will determine if you get fit or bigger. If you do a exercise routine to trim up and get fit - then you will not get bigger. The problem is that creatine supplements can lead to a bit of water retention and therefore weight gain, this effect can be particularly annoying for women. So use it in moderate dosages.


Why do have to increase the water consumption while taking creatine?

Chemical nature of creatine is hydrophilic molecules, it means, it attracts enormous amount of water.After indigestion of it, if you donot provide enough water, they will settle in your stomach and draw water from everywhere they can, in an effort to be digested, this causes stomach cramp, dehydration and bloating. If your creatine is pure then these problems are caused by the fact there is not enough water in your body, so drink minimum 4-5 liters of water.


What is the right technique (effective dosage) to improve the efficiency (absorption) of creatine?

Cell physiology dictates that the cell will more likely take up a nutrient if it is deficient in or has a low concentration of that nutrient.Creatine is only manufactured and transported when reserves are low and utilized only when needed. Excess amount will cause a halt to enzymatic steps of its production/utilization. By consuming creatine at times muscle cells do not immediately require it; they can become easily saturated, as uptake is down regulated even when sustained, in low concentrations.if the saturation continues, muscle cells actually lose their creatine transporters. This is very bad effect of creatine; therefore you should avoid taking creatine through out day. The most efficient timing of creatine uptake is before and after workout.


Why it is logical to take before and after your workout?

FIRSTLY, it takes about 1 hour for the creatine to be absorbed into the bloodstream and SECONDLY, creatine remains intact in water only for 1.5 hours, then after (1.5 hours) the creatine in your blood will be converted into creatinine and excreted. So, let's say you workout at 7am , At 6 am you take the creatine powder. By 7am the creatine is in the blood stream. Your muscles are probably mostly saturated with creatine from the supplement you took the day before. So, your creatine is still in the blood. At 7am you start working out and depleting the (stored) creatine in your muscles. Your muscles then replenish their creatine supply from the creatine in the blood stream. Your workout ends at 8am. Remember, you took creatine at 6 am - but it was not absorbed into the blood stream until 7.30am. This means it will stay there until 8am (1.5 hours).
An opening of window for nutrition occurs after intense workout. During this period muscle cells are like dry sponges thrown into a puddle, instead of water they soak up the macronutrients. So capitalizing this window as absolutely essential. It determines your goal. Since the muscle cells are going to be depleted of creatine after heavy workout, you must time your creatine intake to coincide with this crucial time frame.
Since insulin pushes all macronutrients in skeletal muscle. It is also very important to have high levels of insulin for maximal accumulation of creatine in muscle, therefore It is equally important to take creatine with carbohydrate (simple sugar).
The practical aspect is -
One hour before workout- 2-3g of creatine + pre workout snack.
Last 10 mins of workout - 1-2 g of creatine + half tea spoon of sugar.
30 mins after workout-2-3 g of creatine + half spoon of sugar + post workout meal.
After 45 mins to 1 hour of workout - 2-3 g of creatine +1 tea spoon of sugar
It is safer to take creatine supplement for a while, then stop, then go back to using it.

Which are the unanswered questions concerning creatine?

• Response in various populations (teenagers,pregnant,elderly).
• Long term side effects of creatine.
• Factors which regulates the creatine receptor on muscle
• Crucial aspects related to matrix of delivery, timing of intake and individual variability in creatine accumulation.
• Right amount required to maintain elevated creatine stores in muscle.
• Strategies to maximize creatine accumulations in muscle.
• Contribution of creatine in increasing protein synthesis/hypertrophy.