What Do We Know About It Post 1

Sport |

Armed with little if any knowledge of how creatine works, athletes at all levels have taken an unknown health risk and invested large sums of money in hopes of gaining a competitive edge.

What do we currently know about creatine and its use, especially by the high school-age athlete? Here are the questions we need to be asking:
What is creatine and how does creatine work?
How does creatine affect performance?
What are the risks of taking creatine?
How is the creatine level increased in muscle tissue?
What is creatine?
Creatine is a protein molecule that is stored in muscle. It provides a fast and simple means of generating the phosphocreatine (ATP) energy supply for muscle contraction. For activities lasting 10 seconds or less, ATP is the energy source for the muscle. It has been shown that muscular fatigue is related to phosphocreatine depletion in muscle, and that creatine supplementation can enhance the levels of both creatine and phosphocreatine in skeletal muscle.

Normal requirements for creatine are in the range of two grams per day. The body produces about one gram of creatine in the liver each day, and most American diets, which include meats, provide at least one additional gram of creatine daily. This two gram amount of liver produced and diet consumed creatine is more than adequate for participation in all high school sports.
How does creatine affect performance?
Muscle creatine is used to regenerate the energy source in the muscle for short burst activities generally lasting less then 10 seconds. Knowing that increasing muscle creatine can increase the available energy for short bursts of intense activity, it would be reasonable to assume and research has shown that it benefits athletes in weightlifting, gymnastics, football, hockey, field events and sprinting.

Research data also indicates that creatine supplementation may enhance the ability of an athlete to train with greater intensity. No improvements have been shown for submaximal activities like distance running or swimming.

The ability of creatine supplementation to increase a single peak effort has not yet been established. In 30 percent of tested populations, creatine supplementation, in any dose, has no performance benefits.

The use of creatine is almost always associated with a one-to-three-pound weight gain during the initial loading, probably due to water moving into the muscle cells along with the creatine.

Creatine is reported to be most effective for individuals who have lots of fast acting muscle fibers and who have low muscle creatine prior to supplementation. Muscle fiber type determines how much creatine is absorbed, and will ultimately determine the effectiveness of creatine supplementation.