What Every Athlete Needs to Know about Creatine
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and Creatine is one of the amino acids found naturally in the human body. Our bodies manufacture Creatine from the nutrients we eat and by other body processes. Creatine has many benefits for an athlete however, like any supplement, it can cause problems if you do not know enough about it, or if you use it incorrectly.
Creatine has not yet been subjected to testing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA, but it can be purchased “over the counter”. It is classed as a supplement to diet in the same way as vitamin and mineral preparations, and is usually found in tablet form. It is popular with athletes who have been informed of its performance benefits.
In an individual with good health, the body synthesizes approximately 0.002 kg of Creatine every day whereby 0.120 kg of Creatine is found in the body overall. The higher the body mass, the more Creatine can be stored. Although the body makes its own Creatine it is also taken in through diet, with the main providers being the proteins from red meat and also from fish.
Many athletes have expounded the benefits of taking Creatine pills to boost levels of Creatine in the body. Here are some benefits of it —
- Delays the onset of fatigue
- Boosts the formation of lean muscle mass
- Increases the strength of muscles
- Gives an instant energy push
- Increases ability to perform highly intense activity (for brief periods only)
For these reasons, many athletes who compete in sports such as power lifting, hurdling or short-distance running, choose to take additional Creatine in the form of a supplement to get more of the effects and shorten the rest time needed between bouts of highly intense activity.
There are other benefits of Creatine too, for medical patients. If a person has had an operation, a Creatine supplement may help to keep their muscles strong and to prevent wasting. If someone has a heart condition, then gentle exercise is often beneficial to his or her health but can be difficult to sustain. Using Creatine can help these patients to exercise more efficiently and increase the healthy function of the heart.
The reported side effects of using supplementary Creatine are few, but should be noted. These include:
- Possible weight increases
- DVT (deep vein thromboses)
- Taking more than the recommended dose, or long term uninterrupted use may have additional side effects, which as yet scientists do not know enough about to be able to advise effectively.
It is possible to purchase powdered Creatine, with one teaspoon containing 0.005kg of Creatine monohydrate, and no more than 1-2 teaspoons should be consumed in one day. The best way to take powdered Creatine is with 8-ounces of water drunk in one day.
There are also chewable or capsule forms of the supplement available. Athletes may take a higher dose when they are completing high-intensity activity, and a lower dose to maintain the Creatine levels in their bodies.