Creatine has been a popular supplement among athletes since the 1970s. From football players to bodybuilders, creatine has become a mainstay in high-performance diet and nutrition. This compound is actually manufactured naturally within the liver and the kidneys. It is sent into the bloodstream and then stored in skeletal muscle tissues.
Creatine creates a substance that gives these muscles energy. Although your body does manufacture creatine, it is extremely difficult to get enough of this amino acid to increase performance without supplementing your natural supply.
Creatine supplements are used to enhance athletic abilities. Researchers have shown that an average diet does not provide enough additional creatine to aid in muscle energy or repair. A high protein diet is often used to increase the amount of creatine that is available to working muscles. In general, foods that provide protein also provide creatine.
These foods can include fish, poultry, pork and beef. Because eating a large amount of fatty meat can also increase the cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, many athletes turn to creatine supplements for that boost of muscle energy.
Creatine supplements have been available on the market for almost 40 years. They became very popular when anabolic steroids were deemed illegal by many athletic associations.
Creatine use is believed to increase muscle mass and muscle energy greatly. It is also believed to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the bloodstream. This health benefit is helpful in protecting the heart and maintaining overall health. Creatine is used in treating diseases that decrease muscle strength or “wasting diseases.” It provides benefit for people suffering with muscular dystrophy and Lou Gherig’s disease, as well as for healthy individuals.
The recommended dosage for creatine is about 25 grams per day for at least one week. This dose helps to increase the amount of creatine that is stored within the muscles. Following that first week, the dosage is decreased to about 3 grams per day. It is believed that taking the creatine supplement with carbohydrates like whole-grain bread can help to increase the absorption of the supplement.
Too much creatine can lead to health problems like kidney failure. Professional athletes often take creatine supplements for about two weeks out of every month during their strength training program. This allows the body to build muscle mass without causing damage to any other organs.
Creatine is best taken in well-monitored doses. Since water retention is often attributed to creatine supplements, those with kidney issues should not take this supplement. The nutritional value of adding creatine to a bodybuilding diet is well-documented, but as with any supplement, it is always best to proceed with caution and seek professional advice. Following a balanced diet and sticking to the recommended directions, creatine supplements will help you realize your best potential.
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