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What are Creatine Supplements?
Creatine supplement is a protein, made naturally in the body from three amino acids (glycine, arginine and methionine). You can also obtain it from fish, beef and pork, although you would need to eat at least 2 kg/day to get a performance-boosting effect. In the muscle cells, it combines with phosphate to make phosphocreatine (PC). Phosphocreatine (PC) is an energyproducing compound that regenerates adenosine triphosphate (ATP, a compound which provides energy) extremely rapidly during high-intensity activity. The idea with creatine supplementation is to increase your muscles' phosphocreatine (PC) content. In theory, the more phosphocreatine (PC) you have, the longer you will be able to sustain high-intensity activity.
Do Creatine Supplements Work?
Creatine supplementation typically raises phosphocreatine (PC) stores in the muscle by around 20%. In terms of performance, most - although not all studies have found that creatine supplements increase your strength (as measured by the One-rep-max), allow you to perform more repetitions (at 70% one-rep max) before reaching failure, and enable you to recover faster between sets. This would allow you to increase your training volume (i.e. lift heavier weights, perform more repetitions) and therefore gain a greater training effect. In terms of muscle growth, studies have also found that creatine supplements promote muscle hypertrophy (excessive growth) and produce significant gains in total body weight, muscle size and muscle mass. For example, researchers at Pennsylvania State University measured a total body weight gain of 1.7 kg and muscle mass gain of 1.5 kg after seven days of creatine supplementation in a group of 19 weight trainers. After 12 weeks, total weight gain averaged 4.8 kg and muscle mass gain averaged 4.3 kg.
Weight gain is partly due to increased cell water content and partly due to increased protein content. Creatine draws water into the muscle cells and this increased cell volume becomes an anabolic signal for muscle growth. Protein breakdown is reduced and protein manufacture is increased.
What are Creatine Benefits?
When you run the bases, throw a pass or row a boat, muscles depend on a substance called ATP for energy. In the process, ATP is broken down into ADP. That is when energy sags and fatigue sets in. Creatine, a nutrient found mainly in red meat, is a natural compound found in the muscles that combines with phosphate ions to form phosphocreatine. It refuels exhausted muscles by helping to convert ADP back to ATP. Some of the benefits of taking creatine are they increase the reserves of phosphocreatine well beyond what can be achieved with diet alone. Large reserves delay muscle fatigue and speed muscle recovery. In addition, muscle cells hold more water, causing muscles to grow in size as well as strength. Some studies show a decrease in body fat in athletes who use creatine.
The original creatine-loading strategy used in the studies of the 1990s was a five-day course. This involved taking 20 g/day creatine in four divided doses of 5 g each. More recent research suggests that lower daily doses over a longer period is just as effective and results in less water maintenance. You could take 3 g creatine/day for 30 days or 6 g/day (in 6 x 1 g doses) for six days.
Creatine appears to be more effective when taken with carbohydrate. That's because carbohydrate stimulates insulin release, which increases creatine uptake by the muscles. The ideal amount of carbohydrate is debatable. Studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, have found 34 g carbohydrate to be just as effective as the higher doses (80-100 g) used in previous research. Don't get convinced by supplement manufacturers to buy expensive creatine-carbohydrate supplements - you could end up consuming far too much carbohydrate if you take them on top of your usual meals! Take creatine at your usual meal or snack times (provided they contain at least 34 g carbohydrate). In fact, since protein and carbohydrate taken together stimulate insulin more than carbohydrate alone, this is by far the most effective and cheapest strategy. Drink an extra glass or two of water when loading with creatine to compensate for the increased uptake of water by your muscle cells.
Are there any side effects of Creatine Supplements?
Reports of side effects such as muscle contraction, stomach discomfort, dehydration and muscle and kidney damage have not been proven. In fact, a team of researchers at the School of Biomedical Sciences at Nottingham University analyzed blood samples of volunteers after taking a standard five-day loading dose of creatine followed by a 3 g maintenance dose for nine weeks. They found no evidence of liver, muscle or kidney damage and concluded that creatine has no health risks in healthy people when taken in the recommended doses. The only 'side effect' appears to be water-retention-related weight gain. However, this is associated mainly with the high creatine loading doses (20-30 g/day), and lower loading doses of 6 g/day or less result in very little water maintenance.
For more and detailed infrormation about creatine supplements, their benefits, side effects and much more refer to this cool site on creatine monohydrate.
Other important supplements are :-
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