Pritchard: Exploring the power of creatine (column)
Better Version of You
Creatine supplementation has long been a topic of discussion for those seeking improved performance in athletics. It is amongst the most highly researched supplements available today with over 500 research studies conducted according to PubMed.
Its benefits include improved maximal power and strength (about 5-15 percent), increased single-effort sprint performance (about 1-5 percent) and increased work performed during maximal effort muscle contractions (about 5-15 percent). In combination with high intensity training, creatine has also been shown to increase gains in fat free mass.
However, like any supplement, there are also those who believe it is harmful to ingest and/or ineffective. Fortunately, creatine is neither harmful nor ineffective. In fact, it is one of the most effective ergogenic aids available at an average of $0.17 per serving.
What is creatine anyways?
Simply put, creatine is an amino acid our body naturally creates and stores within our muscles. Any movement or activity we do uses a fuel called ATP that we produce naturally. When we continue an activity, especially something of high intensity, our body calls on phosphocreatine (PCr) to buffer the depletion rate of our own ATP. The highest contribution to ATP production by PCr occurs in the first two seconds of activity. At five seconds of exercise, PCr is down to about 50-70 percent of its resting values, and at 30 seconds it is nearly contributing nothing. What this tells us is that creatine is an energy source our body uses for quick, explosive movements that is rapidly depleted.
As humans, we store approximately 16-19 millimoles per liter of PCr per kilogram of muscle, and this number can be increased with proper supplementation ultimately yielding a few seconds more of sustained high intensity work during exercise.
This may not seem like much, however when an athlete is racing 100 meters it can make all the difference.
What kind of creatine to take and how much?
It is rather easy to get confused on what type of creatine to take and at what dosage based on misleading fitness companies.
Certain individuals will claim that their creatine is more bioavailable and effective in order to justify the hefty price tag they put on it. Fortunately, study after study has proven that good old creatine monohydrate is the most effective form and coincidently the lowest price.
Some will also lead you to believe that you must “load” creatine in order to reap the benefits by taking approximately 20 grams per day for five to seven days. While this has been proven to work, it is likely not worth the gastric distress that accompanies it. Instead, my recommendation, which is equally as effective, is to take three to five grams daily and by about 21 days you will be at the same concentrations as those who chose to “load” it.
Before you go out and buy creatine, ensure that you are choosing a safe company by looking at and reading supplement reviews at http://www.labdoor.com. This will provide you with all the information you need about the efficacy of a particular brand.
Creatine is one of the most highly effective supplements that is widely available today. The performance gains are notable and it is completely safe to take. Of course, always consult with a doctor prior to taking any type of supplement, but it is worth giving a try if you are looking for an extra edge in your training.
Jimmy Pritchard has a BS from Colorado Mesa University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the assistant strength coach at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. Pritchard’s passion is to help others meet, and often exceed their goals in all areas of fitness. Contact him at 970-331-3513 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at http://www.pritchardperformance.com.