What is Creatine?
Creatine has been used extensively throughout the world to enhance athletic performance. The discovery of creatine dates back to 1832 when A French scientist named Chevreul identified the naturally occurring organic compound in meat. It was later found to be manufactured by the liver, kidneys, and pancreas using three amino acids. Chevreul named the compound creatine after the greek word for meat or “kreas." 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. About 95% of creatine is found in our body’s skeletal muscle tissue. It is responsible for supplying the muscle with energy during exercise. Chemically, it has the IUPAC name of 2-(Methylguanidino) ethanoic acid. Creatine is formed from the three amino acids, L-Arginine, L-methionine, and Glycine that undergo a chemical process to form creatine. Its structure is made up of a carboxyl group along with amine and amino groups. It is transported through the blood and taken up by the 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 the cell as phosphocreatine until it is used to help produce chemical energy called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).*
How Does Creatine Improve Performance?
More creatine equals an increase of the muscle cell's ability to produce ATP. ATP is responsible for providing energy for muscle contraction in all muscle, but more predominantly in fast twitch, big, bulky muscle. Increased ATP offers a recovery benefit as well by providing the cell with energy to repair itself faster and more efficiently following strength training sessions.*
Creatine is naturally found in some foods. The average helping of beef or fish contains about 1 gram of naturally occurring creatine. Unfortunately, it is very sensitive to heat and cooking virtually destroys the effectiveness of creatine. The amount of creatine needed depends on body weight and other factors. Studies have shown positive effects with athletes when dosing creatine at 5 grams per day.*
Creatine In a Nutshell
The goal of any strength training program is to use progressive resistance exercises in order 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 lifting a heavier weight, increasing the duration of time that the muscle is under tension or contracted, and by increasing the frequency of the exercise. Creatine helps build lean body mass, which increases your ability to power against greater resistances and provides an increased amount of energy through the generation and synthesis of ATP. This facilitates more frequent exercise for longer duration and at a higher intensity.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.