What is all the hype about creatine and why should I consider supplementing it?
Before I started supplementing creatine I had a lot of questions. No matter what you are putting into your body you should be aware of what potential effects, both good and bad, that it may take on your physical and mental state. There are a lot of promises and magic pills in the market and every snake oil salesmen is trying to push this or that as the best there is in the market. Let me see if I can help clear up some of the fog regarding this nitrogenious organic acid and you can make an informed decision if it is something you want to add to your workout regiment.
WHAT IS CREATINE?
Is it an amino acid? well, sorta not really. It is a combination of three amino acids; arginine, glycine and methionine. More of a tripeptide really. It is formed in the liver and kidneys with the combinations of these amino acids. The place where most of the creatine in our bodies is found is in the skeletal muscles. Which one might note creatine is really only used by vertebrates.
WHY DO WE NEED IT?
In order to supply energy to our muscles creatine is of necessary importance. When creatine is broken down through the liver then added into the blood stream it travels to our skeletal muscles and brain. Once creatine reaches the muscle tissue a high-energy phosphate is attached to it which creates phosphocreatine (PCr). This resulting molecule is where creatine has most of its resulting benefits. When needed creatine donates its’ high-energy phosphate to ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is then used for rapid energy like in muscle contractions required in weight lifting. Having more PCr in muscle tissue will translate to increased ATP function which will result in more muscle growth, strength, speed and power.
Supplementing creatine has been found to increase PCr in muscle tissue by 20%.
Aside from muscle function and increased energy, creatine has been used in the treatment of muscular, neuromuscular, neurological and neurodegenerative diseases (arthritis, congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, disuse atrophy, gyrate atrophy, McArdle’s disease, Huntington’s disease, miscellaneous neuromuscular diseases, mitochondrial diseases, muscular dystrophy and neuroprotection) as well as depression.
It has even been found to have a positive effect on hyperglycemia as well as ALS.
Another reason we need creatine is in the support of our brains overall function. Creatine has been shown to increase cognitive performance in both the young and the elderly. This of course being that again creatine is playing a pivotal role in energy production, but in this case it is the brains energy homeostasis.
IS IT SAFE?
Yeah, I was thinking that too before I started mixing it into my protein shakes. Is it safe? What about my kidneys and liver? Well let me put a lot of that to rest. I likely have read a lot of the same articles you have regarding the safety of creatine. Let me assure you, creatine is the most researched sports supplement there is on the market today. And to the best of my knowledge there is not a single published literature to say it is unsafe. By published I mean medical study based in fact rather then something based on theories.
Well what about the water gain? Yes it is true that as a result of supplementing creatine into your diet you will gain more water weight. Creatine is an osmotically active substance. It pulls water into your muscle cells which increases protein synthesis. If you sit on your duff and don’t go to the gym then yes all you will gain is water weight. One thing to note is that your muscles are going to draw in this water from other areas of your body. So make sure you stay properly hydrated throughout the day.
One upside to adding water to our cells is the anti-cancer and anti-aging effect it will have on us. So a little extra water weight is not necessarily a bad thing.
I hope you found this article on creatine helpful.
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