Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Does Creatine Supplementation Effect Your Workout?

If you are looking to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance, you may have heard of creatine supplementation. Creatine supplements are very popular among body builders and athletes. American's spend around $14 million per year on these supplements. Many turn to creatine in hopes of increasing lean muscle mass and enhancing athletic performance.

What is creatine?
Creatine, a naturally occurring amino acid, is a protein building block. Creatine is found in fish and meat and is also made by the human body. It is later converted into phosphocreatine and stored in ther muscles and used for energy. Creatine is useful when it comes to high-intensity, short-duration activities such as weight lifting or sprinting. This is because phosphocreatine is converted into ATP, which is a major energy source within the body.

Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sports.

How it works.
Creatine gives muscles the energy they need to work. Muscular contractions depend on ATP and how quickly it can be regenerated. Therefore, the increase in creatine is thought to increase the force of muscular contractions.

Positive effects of creatine.
Creatine is beneficial for increasing lean muscle mass, muscle power and strength, muscle glycogen accumulation (for increased energy storage and utilization capacity). Creatine is also beneficial for decreasing lactate production, fatigue, recovery time, inflammation and muscle soreness. Creatine also helps people with congestive heart failure, Parkinson's disease and gyrate atrophy (an eye disease).

Negative effects of creatine.
Creatine can lead to gastrointestinal stress and diarrhea. Creatine may be associated with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat. When taken in high doeses damage to the liver, kidney or heart may occur. Many people gain weight with creatine. This is because creatine causes muscle to hold water, not because it actually builds muscle. There can also be dangerous interactions with caffeine and certain medications, always consult a healthcare provider. Other side effects include; muscle cramps, muscle strains, upset stomach, dizziness and high blood pressure.

Is creatine effective?
Most research suggests creatine can be effective with exercise. Evidence suggests that creatine can improve athletic performance of young, healthy people with sport, high-intensity exercise (ex. sprinting). It does not seem to help with those over 60 years old or highly trained athletes. Creatine does not help with aerobic exercises. However, not all human studies show that creatine improves athletic performance. Also, not everybody responds the same way to creatine supplementation. If someone already has a high stores of creatine in their muscles, then they do not get the extra benefit from supplementation.

Boone, Tommy, ed. "Creatine and Exercise - Strong Evidence for Stronger Heart Muscle?" Journal of Exercise Physiology 15.5 (2011). Web. 3 Apr. 2012.

Hall, Jenni. "Creatine Supplementation - Is It Effective?" School of Physiotherapy. 2001. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. http://physiotherapy.curtin.edu.au/resources/educational-resources/exphys/01/creatine.cfm.

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