Creatine Monohydrate – Supplement Profile
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 supplementation.
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 weight training.
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.