A Little History....
Creatine was first discovered in 1832 by a French Scientist called Michel Eugene Chevreul. He quickly established that it was a key component of skeletal muscle and thus named it Creatine derived from Kreas, the Greek word for flesh. He devoted his life to science and the expansion of knowledge on creatine until he died in 1889 at the age of 102!
The association between meat (the main source of creatine) and strength dates back to 6 BC when Milo of Croton, a renowned, powerful wrestler was said to consume around 9kg of meat a day! Legends like this have inspired and influenced researchers to delve into the world of creatine and its role in muscle development and performance enhancement. Creatine was explored and manipulated to further understand the mechanisms behind its apparent role in energy delivery within the muscle. However it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the Swedish scientist Eric Hultman, as well as other Cambridge researchers such as Harris, Soderland and Greenhaff, proved that creatine could be harnessed as a supplement and used to enhance performance (Bergstrom and Hultman, 1966).
1.) Creatine could be very useful for overall health: Research is starting to show positive associations between creatine consumption and brain health i.e. treating Parkinson’s disease. Creatine could help muscular dystrophy and depression, support the healing process of traumatic brain injuries and limit the onset of Alzheimer’s (Wyss and Schulze, 2002).
2.) Creatine could have antioxidant properties: Some robust, well conducted evidence is suggesting that creatine has antioxidant properties meaning its supplementation could reduce the ageing process, promote heart health and reduce the onset of cardiovascular disease (Sestilli, Martinelli, Bravi, 2006).
3.) Creatine is in every vertebrate animal: The average 70kg person contains between 100-150g of creatine with around 95% located in our skeletal muscle....the remainder is found in other organs such as the brain and heart.
4.) We lose 2g creatine a day: Our bodies excrete creatine in the form of a waste product known as creatinine. If excess creatine is consumed our kidneys have to deal with high levels of creatinine which consequently places excessive strain on the kidneys.
5.) Creatine can be synthesised (made) from Arginine: Approximately half of our creatine is synthesised in our body in the liver and kidneys. Otherwise creatine is consumed through our diet via meat, fish and milk. However, the amino acid Arginine is also a precursor to creatine production and is subjected to an enzymatic reaction via the enzymes AGAT and GAMT resulting in the production of creatine.
6.) Creatine boosts energy: Many know creatine as the muscle building, strength developing super supplement, however less are aware of the energising properties creatine has to offer! Creatine surrenders its phosphate group to a substance called Adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which then becomes Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is our body’s main energy transporter molecule used for energy production. Hence, creatine can give an explosive burst of energy for activities lasting approximately 8-10 seconds (Hultman, Bergstrom and McLennan, 1967).
7.) Creatine’s effects are maximised when combined with protein: Greenwood, Kalman and Antonio, (2008) state that muscle anabolism is significantly increased if creatine is consumed in conjunction with whey protein. Therefore maximise the benefit by combining the two!
8.) 7 types of creatine:
- Pure Creatine
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Creatine Ethyl Ester HCL
- Tricreatine Citrate
- Creatine Pyruvate
- Magnesium Creatine
- Creatine Citrate
9.) On average, creatine increases body mass by 1 to 2.3%: An average 80kg person can expect to gain approximately 1.6-2kg, especially when creatine is taken for more than 10 days. These gains will be seen in the muscle along with some fluid in the muscle, and not as body fat!
10.) The only recognised side effect of creatine is weight gain: As mentioned above, this weight is attributable to the increase in muscle size and mass. This means creatine is a safe, effective and affordable supplement to support muscle development, power and performance enhancement. Consume a minimum of 35ml of fluid per kg bodyweight (approx 10-12 200ml cups of fluid) to ensure you maintain the integrity of your kidneys!
Bergstrom, J. & Hultman, E. (1966). Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: an enhancing factor localised to the muscle cells in man. Nature. 210: 309-310.
Greenwood, M., Kalman, D, S., & Antonio, J. (2008). Nutritional Supplements in Sports and Exercise. Creatine. NJ: Humana Press.
Sestilli, P., Martinelli, C., Bravi, G., Picolli, G., Curci, R., et al. (2006). Creatine supplementation affords cytoprotection in oxidatively injured cultured mammalian cells via direct antioxidant activity. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 40: 837-849.
Wyss, M. & Schulze, A. (2002). Health implications of creatine: can oral creatine supplementation protect against neurological and atherosclerotic disease? Neuroscience. 112: 243-260.