Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in large quantities in the brain and skeletal muscle. Creatine supplements, and diets aimed at boosting creatine intake, are recommended by major sporting bodies throughout the world.
It is not a banned substance and never will be, because it is ubiquitous, occurs in many tissues and occurs naturally in many foods.
Creatine can be consumed in a wide variety meat products, fish and seafood. The body can also make creatine from amino acid precursors.
Creatine must be re-supplied from food or made by the body daily as it is consumed in the muscles and brain and must be replenished.
Vegans and many vegetarians struggle to get enough creatine in their diet as it is mostly found in animal products. Vegetarians who refuse to take creatine supplements, because it is derived from meat, must depend on the body synthesising enough creatine for their needs.
Studies have shown that vegetarians generally have lower levels of creatine than meat eaters. This can be disastrous for vegetarian athletes and most coaches and sporting authorities recommend that vegetarian athletes take some form of creatine supplement.
Creatine in the form of phosphorylated creatine plays a critical role in the energy metabolism of the muscles and the brain. It is one of the major sources of phosphate to regenerate ATP which is the key driver of muscle movement and nerve transmission.
It is linked with glucose metabolism and the energy systems of muscles. It is especially important as a type of instant fuel source needed for sprints or for short bouts of high - intensity exercise.
Research studies have shown that changes in the diet can boost creatine levels in the muscles by up to 20%, leading to better performance.
The performance responses to creatine supplements varies greatly between individuals.
The most dramatic changes occur with vegetarians who have very low natural creatine levels because they don't eat meat.
Creatine supplements has been demonstrated to significantly boost to performance for any exercise or sports that involve repeated sprints or high intensity bursts followed by short recovery periods. Research suggests that increasing the amount of creatine in the body can boost power output and sprinting performance by up to 15%, which is a high level increase, when many things athletes do only increase performance by 5-10%.
Almost 95 percent of the creatine in the human body is stored in the skeletal muscles and there are significant amounts in the brain.
Research studies have shown creatine supplements boosts the amount of glycogen storage and carbohydrate loading in the muscles. This helps with endurance events. Boosting the amount of energy stored in the muscles means they can do more work very quickly.
It also acts as a source of phosphate to ATP which is the key energy fuel used inside cells. This provides an instant source of energy to muscles.
A German study found that boosting creatine levels via supplements increased muscle strength by 8%.
Increasing the creatine loading of muscles is also known to increase body mass and total body water volume.
An Australian study found evidence that increasing creatine levels boosted memory and intelligence through an effect on the brain.
Both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the International Olympic Committee and all sporting bodies throughout the world allow the usage of creatine supplements, and it is widely used among professional athletes.