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Creatine Supplements

by Tanya Pray, ATC

Creatine is a chemical that is found
in the human body. It an be produced by some internal organs and it an
be consumed in our diets. Specifically, it is found in steak, milk,
and some fish. The daily requirement of Creatine is approximately 2

We have approximately between 120-150
grams of Creatine stored in our muscles. This is mostly in a phosphate
form. This is important because adenosine phosphate (ATP) is the energy
that our muscles need to work. The food that we eat is broken down
into glucose. From this glucose, chemical processes in the body create
ATP. The ATP is used to fuel our muscles. Having more Creatine
Phosphate in our muscles may help to produce more ATP.

The body can only absorb so much extra
Creatine and excess is excreted by the kidneys. As of yet, no negative
side effects have been found with excess Creatine supplementation.
Different people can have wide range of natural Creatine in their
bodies. Those people with low levels benefit more from
supplementation. People who engage in supplementation could possibly
see an increase in body mass between 1-2 kilograms.

Creatine supplementation tends to
decrease the formation of lactic acid in muscles. Lactic acid is a by
product of metabolism that is formed during exercise. This acid
accumulation will eventually hinder performance. Creatine does nothing
to increase a persons Vo2Max. Vo2Max is the
maximal volume of oxygen that a person can absorb. Endurance training
will increase an athlete’s Vo2Max because they have a
larger lung capacity. A trained system can utilize the oxygen more
efficiently than an untrained system. Testing a person’s Vo2Max
is a good gauge to tell how fit they are.

In one study conducted on Creatine
supplements, athletes were tested on a bicycle. The patient rode a
stationary cycle for six seconds at maximum speed. When the six
seconds were completed, a 30 second recovery period was given. This
was repeated for several minutes. Before supplementation, the athlete
lost the ability to keep up the speed. After supplementation all the
athletes were able to keep up the speed, and less lactic acid formed
in their muscles.

Creatine supplements actually impaired
performance in endurance testing, however, in a running test where
athletes where asked to run 20 minutes, those who ingested Creatine
took longer to complete the course. Since Creatine does nothing to
improve Vo2Max and people who took the supplements
experienced an increase of 1-2 kilograms of body mass, their
performance was impaired.

Unless an athlete is performing in
short, quick bursts, lasting no longer than 5-6 seconds, Creatine
supplements will not create much of a benefit. However, such high
intensity and intermittent exercise may be enhanced due to a better
recovery between exercise sprints, which delays the onset of fatigue.

Therefore, in short term high
intensity exercise, taking a Creatine supplement may improve athletic
performance. While in a long endurance form of exercise, Creatine
supplements could hinder performance.