What is creatine?
We are talking about an amino acid that appears in most of our muscles as well as in the brain. The best sources of naturally produced creatine is red meat and seafood – our liver, pancreas and kidneys also produce creatine naturally. Its synthesis happens mostly in the liver, kidneys and a little less in the pancreas and a normal bodily quantity obtained through an omnivore diet at about 1g/d – with a greater increase in production while consuming meat products, hence vegetarians have lower concentrations of it.
The way we use creatine is by creating phosphocreatine out of it, we store it in our muscles and we use it further for energy supply, hence the reason for taking a creatine supplement has to do with improvement of athletic performance together with an increase of muscle mass. An interesting fact about creatine is that it is also able to treat brain conditions, congestive heart failure and even ageing rasping skin.
What is the body’s response to a creatine supplement?
It can be said that not everyone responds the same to an intake of creatine. Most athletes use it to perform better in athletic endeavours dependant on explosivity, such as weightlifting or sprinting. It is important to take into account that the effect of creatine will diminish as the length of time exercising increases. The key with this supplement is that an intake of the accorded dosage depending on your exercise will promote a faster regeneration of adenosine triphosphate in between high intensity workouts. This means that performance will be increased, hence the body will adapt more easily to training.
Various and multiple studies confirm that indeed creatine when combined with heavy strength training will lead to a better physical performance, fat free mass, and muscle morphology. (See sources Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training. Volek JS, Duncan ND, Mazzetti SA, Staron RS, Putukian M, Gómez AL, Pearson DR, Fink WJ, Kraemer WJ. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Aug; 31(8):1147-56 and Scientific basis and practical aspects of creatine supplementation for athletes. Volek JS, Rawson ES. Nutrition. 2004 Jul-Aug; 20(7-8):609-14).
Why is the body reacting so positively to creatine?
New studies have suggested that a way to observe the reasons behind this question is to look into the anabolic/performance enhancing mechanisms of creatine supplementation, concluding that these effects might be due to the satellite cell proliferation, myogenic transcription factors and insulin-like growth factor-1 signalling. And all this especially when tested on young healthy males.
All in all, there are several available forms of creatine such as: creatine salts, creatine anhydrous, creatine in ester form, creatine monohydrate. Creatine salts have shown to be less stable than creatine monohydrate and their stability could only be increased by a gradual increase of carbohydrates as well. Another study (See sources The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, Harvey T, Greenwood M, Kreider R, Willoughby DS. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 Feb 19; 6():6.) has also came to the conclusion that the ester form is not as effective as creatine monohydrate either when in need to enhance serum and muscle creatine storage.
To conclude, it is safe to say that the available studies and evidence indicates that creatine consumption is safe for training purposes and in cycles.
Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update
Robert Cooper, Fernando Naclerio, Judith Allgrove, and Alfonso Jimenez.