Creatine Essay, Research Paper
Creatine is not an Herb, mineral, vitamin, hormone, or a steroid. It is also not those bread cubes that you scatter over your salad, either. Creatine is a natural nutrient found in our bodies and the bodies of most animals. Approximately ninety five percent is scattered throughout the rest of the body, with the highest concentrations in the heart, brain and testes. The human body gets most of the creatine it needs from the food or dietary supplements. Creatine is easily absorbed from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream. When dietary consumption’s is inadequate to meet the body’s needs, a limited supply can be synthesized from the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. This creatine production occurs in the liver, pancreas and kidneys. This is just a little bit about creatine and for my experiential component, I interviewed the weight training coach for LIU, Mr. Ken Tavani.
Creatine is an essential player in the primary energy source used for muscle contractions. It exists in two different forms within the muscle fiber, as a free (chemically-unbound) creatine and as creatine phosphate. This later form of creatine makes up two-thirds of the total creatine supply. When your muscles contract, the initial fuel for this movement is a compound called ATP. This compound provides energy by releasing one of its phosphate molecules. It then becomes a different compound called ADP. Unfortunately, there is only enough ATP to provide energy for about ten seconds, so for muscle contraction to continue more ATP must be produced. Creatine phosphate comes to the rescue by giving up its phosphate molecule to ADP, recreating ATP. This ATP can then be burned again as fuel for more muscle contraction. The bottom line is that your ability to regenerate ATP depends on your supply of creatine. More creatine means more ATP is being remade, and this increases your ability to train your muscles to their maximum potential. This greater ATP synthesis also keeps your body from relying on another energy system called glycolysis, which has lactic acid as a byproduct. This lactic acid creates the burning sensation you feel during intense exercise. If the amount of acid becomes too great, muscle movement stops. But if you keep on using ATP because of all the creatine you have, you can minimize the amount of lactic acid produced and actually exercise longer and harder. “This helps you to gain strength, power, and muscle size, and you won’t get fatigued as easily” (Saheliar).
Creatine has also been shown to enhance your body’s ability to make proteins, especially the proteins within the muscle fibers. Two of these proteins, actin and myosin, are essential to all muscle contraction. So when you build up your supply of these contractile proteins, you are actually increasing your muscles ability to perform physical activities. And the more work or activities you do, whether it is lifting weights or running the one hundred meter dash, the stronger you will become over time. Creatine can also absorb intracellular water, thus resulting in a higher muscle volume. An additional way creatine increases muscle size is thought to be its fluid retention abilities within muscle tissues.
Although the research on creatine and exercise performance is relatively new, so far it appears that the greatest benefits occur in those who wish to put on muscle mass. Athletes in body building, power lifting, martial arts, and track and field events, such as javelin, and shot-put may benefit the most due o greater strength. “Wrestlers, football players, bodybuilders, and anyone else who wishes to have more muscle build will find creatine extremely helpful” (Sahelian).
Athletes insist creatine works in any sport. Football player Wadsworth, who started college as a two hundred and seventeen pound walk on was hardly considered a prospect. He transformed himself into a two hundred and eighty five pound incredible hulk. Wadsworth’s explanation, “Creatine, I have been taking it for three years and it worked tremendously.” The Saint John’s University basketball program buys creatine for its athletes, while the Giants and Yankees leave it up to their players to decide whether it is safe for them. Superstar outfielder, of the Baltimore Orioles, and Shannon Sharpe, of the Denver Broncos, say the nutrient has helped them pump up their physiques. Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys also states that creatine is effective. The Broncos, for one, have designated creatine as their official supplement. The former trainer at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas says ” We had about two hundred athletes taking creatine, and I never so any negative effects from taking it.” Margold, the Yankee pitcher, said “That catchers and pitchers who depend on rapid recovery between pitches may benefit” (Gola).
It is still unclear whether athletes involved in endurance activities, such as marathon running or long distance bicycling will benefit from creatine supplementation. There have been anecdotal reports that people in these sports may benefit. The difficulty in these situations appear to center on the increased muscle mass which creatine provides. While that’s great, if your a bodybuilder or a wrestler, but it can be a detriment if you have to carry all that weight around during a marathon or triathlon. It becomes a trade off between the increased strength you get from creatine and the increased muscle mass. “Further research will provide us with more definitive answers as to what role creatine supplementation can play in endurance type sports” (Sahelian).
Scientists discovered creatine one hundred and sixty odd years ago, but only in the 1980’s did they figure out muscle cells can be “loaded” with up to thirty percent more of the compound than they normally carry. In one experiment, creatine-fueled subjects added an average of eighteen pounds to their bench press in less then one month. Creatine users pack on fat-free pounds too, though no one is sure whether all the added mass is lean tissue or if some of it is water weight. (muscle cells fill with water during creatine loading) “Some studies show that twenty to thirty percent of those who try creatine do not get any faster or stronger. This is most likely due to the fact that their bodies have naturally high baseline levels of the compound” (Gower).
Many question how this new product has come about. Such questions talked about are, does the increase in creatine availability actually lead to higher phosphocreatine levels, and, does this translate to increased performance, and increase in strength, muscular endurance, and lower body mass? Over the past few years, studies have examined these questions, and received varying results. One study by Greenhaff, et. al. at the University of Nottingham, showed a statistically significant increase in muscle torque while performing knee extensions during sets two and three, but no significant increase was found during sets four and five. Another study by Birch and Greenhaf showed an increase in power output from iso-kinetic cycling during bouts one and two, but not during bout three. Cook, Grandjean, and Barnes at Texas A&M showed no significant effect on power output and fatigue when comparing a creatine ingesting group to a placebo group during exercise performed on a specially modified cycle ergo meter. Oddland, et. al. suggested that supplementation increases muscle creatine, but does not increase the level of phosphocreatine, which is the substance needed to increase energy. So, as you can see, there are no definitive answers to these questions. (creatine monohydrate)
Should we believe that anything natural is safe for are bodies. Is creatine safe, a muscle-building supplement that is becoming as common as sweaty towels in gyms across the country. Even though so many people use creatine, users have complained about nausea, diarrhea and cramps. But on the other side look at the people it has worked for, all the big named athletes, the bodybuilders, and many others. Shannon Sharpe, Denver Broncos tight end, says “I don’t care if you get five Phd’s, I don’t care if you get seven strength and conditioning coaches to tell me otherwise. I believe it works for me” (ESPN Sports Zone).