Creatine was, is, and will always be a natural constituent of the skeletal muscle. It was given considerable attention when world-class athletes began using them to enhance physical performance.
Its importance in skeletal muscles was discovered practically two centuries past when Michel-Eugene Chevreul, a French scientist discovered an element from the skeletal muscle and gave it the name creatine (Gk. Kreas). On 1874, a German scientist, Justus von Liebeg, put forward that creatine was necessary to maintain muscular activity when he noticed that wild foxes had more creatine in their muscles compared to those kept in captivity. He even had a commercially extracted meat (Fleisch Extrakt) advertised to help the body do extra work. This probably could be considered as the first creatine supplement. In truth, fish and meat have very high amounts of creatine.
When intake of creatine is limited in the diet, the body can actually manufacture its own creatine from amino acids. The activity takes place in the liver and kidneys through a chemical reaction that requires three amino acids: arginine, methionine and glycine. Among the three, the most critical is methionine since the only source is from outside the body, and fish is a good source – especially sushi and sashimi.
Two- three pounds of raw meat contains 5 grams of pure creatine monohydrate but heat degrades it, thus cooking reduces the amount of creatine present. Insulin is required by creatine for it to enter the muscles, thus consuming carbohydrates together with creatine will improve its availability to skeletal muscles. Creatine is included in most pre workout supplements on the market today.
Studies have shown that creatine improves the performance of athletes during a high-intensity but short duration exercise like sprinting or weight lifting. This is because creatine enhances muscle anabolism through two major pathways: first, creatine supplements increases the immediate energy reserves in the muscles, consequently increasing the output during exercise.
Second, creatine supplements boost the cell’s methylation capacity, thus creating a good metabolic environment to maintain muscle anabolism. Aside from this, it is thought that creatine will reduce muscle fatigue by decreasing the creation of lactic acid – a waste product that would cause muscle fatigue.
But for creatine to be physiologically active, it has to be transformed to phosphocreatine. Each day, the body will use up around two grams of creatine by the spontaneous degradation. With creatine supplementation, an improvement of at least twenty percent is noticed during exercise performance.
Synthetic creatine is sold in the market in the forms of citrate, monohydrate salts or phosphate. Creatine monohydrate is most commonly used among the athletes since a gram of creatine monohydrate has greater amounts of creatine compared to the other two forms.
It is recommended to take in a lot of water during creatine supplementation. Caffeine is definitely discouraged because they have opposite effects – creatine holds water in while caffeine removes it thus decreasing the effectiveness of creatine. It is also advised to refrain from mixing creatine with citrus fruits as they will neutralize the creatine monohydrate.
Protein And Its Role In A Healthy Lifestyle
The role of protein in our lives is well understood by most of us. It’s an essential nutrient. Proteins are made up of long strings of amino acids, called polypeptides. When we consume proteins, our digestive system breaks them back down into their constituent amino acids for subsequent use by the body. We use amino acids in some shape or form for nearly every bodily process. They are the pre-cursors, or ‘ingredients’ we need to be able to manufacture hormones, enzymes, body tissues and body structures. They are used to repair cells and can even be used as fuel to keep our cells running.
Proteins – An Essential Source Of Amino Acids
Tyrosine for example is used to produce melanin, our skin and hair pigment. The essential amino acids valine, isoleucine and leucine are used to build and repair muscle tissue. Arginine is used to make nitric oxide, a vasodilatory mediator that plays a vital role in keeping our blood pressure healthy and our heart muscles contracting regularly. Creatine, despite its popularity as a muscle-building supplement, is naturally produced in our bodies using arginine and glycine. You can read more about Creatine supplements, and whether they’re worth the hype.
Protein Supply – It’s All About Diet
Most of us get enough protein from our diet. Even those of us who perhaps don’t eat as healthily as we should! Proteins are obtained from all manner of dietary sources. Some of these foods are referred to as complete protein sources, meaning they provide all the essential amino acids and many of the non-essential ones as well. What is an essential amino acid? All amino acids are ‘essential’ in the sense that we require all 20 of them in varying amounts. However, the 9 amino acids deemed ‘essential’ are those that must be obtained via our diet because we can’t manufacture them ourselves. In other words, they are an ‘essential’ part of our diet. Non-essential amino acids are those we can manufacture ourselves provided we have the raw ingredients.
Most animal proteins are complete protein sources – meat, dairy, eggs, fish. Therefore, people who eat these proteins regularly are unlikely to require special protein supplements unless they’re into heavy bodybuilding. Even then, those additional protein requirements can usually be met by increasing dietary intake of proteins.
Even Vegetarians And Vegans Get Enough Dietary Protein
Even vegetarians are mostly OK for protein because they still eat diary and eggs. The group at most risk of not getting enough protein are vegans, who only eat non-animal foods. However there are many plant based sources of proteins that contain these essential amino acids, which debunks the protein myth that we need to eat meat as a source of protein! Hemp and soy proteins for example contain all 20 amino acids. Other good plant based sources of protein for vegans includes nuts, seeds, and legumes – beans, chickpeas, lentils etc. In fact, one cup of cooked beans provides the same quantity of protein as 2 ounces of meat! Mushrooms are another good source of protein.