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.