(the phosphorylated form of Creatine) provides the means
of regenerating small quantities of ATP extremely rapidly,
boosting short duration activities. Muscles are much less
prone to fatigue and the capacity to undertake strenuous
exercise is increased. Activities such as repetition weight
training, short sprints, repeated bounding and jumping are
all enhanced and therefore the quality of training increases
which feeds into higher competitive performances. Studies
made with middle distance athletes also seem to point to
is both made by the body (from amino acids arginine, glycine
and methionine) and gained from the diet. It occurs naturally
in meats and fish. An athlete who is a big meat eater may
have in his muscle five grams of creatine per kilogram of
muscle, which is near the upper limit. This same athlete
must take in approximately 2.5g of creatine per day to replace
the natural degradation of creatine that takes place each
you were to survey athletes you would find that there would
be a wide variation in creatine content with some athletes
having as little as three grams per kilogram of muscle,
especially vegetarians and those people who are less active
in sport. Those with low creatine content may be at a disadvantage
since creatine has been described as the oil of the muscle
engine, which makes the muscle work more efficiently. Since
very few athletes are at the top end of the scale (4.5-
5g/kg) supplementation will help to increase the creatine
content in the muscles.
of the early work was based on supplementing creatine in
five gram doses, four times a day for five days, then using
two to three grams per day to maintain the enhanced levels.
Studies based upon this level of supplementation observed
rises in muscle creatine that resulted in an increased power
output of about 5 - 7 per cent, presumably due to enhanced
phosphocreatine levels. Manufacturers will claim significant
increases in performances but in my experience the increases
are varied, from no effect at all to very significant increases.
at the bottom end of natural creatine muscle content will
benefit the most whereas those at the upper end of the scale
will have no benefit since it appears impossible to increase
very high levels of creatine in the muscle. Perhaps those
athletes who eat very low amounts (or none) of fish and
meat will be the ones who benefit the most. Vegetarians
who supplement with creatine may experience significant
improvements. Athletes in the explosive events (sprints,
jumps, throws) are likely to experience the most improvement
but in the middle distance events in which phosphocreatine
plays a small but important role the benefit of creatine
supplementation has yet to be finally established. Latest
research points to the body being unable to absorb large
amounts of creatine into the muscle and it appears that
five gram intakes will largely find their way into the urine
rather than into the muscle.
is now recommended that two to three gram intakes four times
a day for 10 days will lead to less being eliminated in
the urine, or a regime of three gram twice a day for 20
days may he equally beneficial. After such 'loading' intakes
a maintenance dose of perhaps only two gram per day is needed.
For best effects creatine should not be taken all year round
and periods of no supplementation should be included in
the annual cycle. To bring about a rapid elevation in the
muscle creatine content, supplementation is best taken either
before or after training itself. At other times of the day
creatine should be co-ingested with a source of carbohydrate
which is effective in elevating blood insulin levels, e.g.
a Mars bar.
appears to be no long term effect in taking creatine supplements
although it must be pointed out that the longest study,
thus far is for only one-and-a-half' years. There appear
to be some problems experienced by a minority of sprinters
when loading with creatine in the form of muscle cramps
and this may be related to the amount of the creatine supplemented.
Athletes must experiment with the amount of creatine they
need - more is not necessarily better and 'less may be best'
in certain individuals.
introduced and established in the nineties, will be with
us into the next century, but further studies are needed
to prove just how beneficial it is to athletes and in which