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Creatine Effects on Muscle Building

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Dave TuttleDave Tuttle received his Master's Degree from Harvard University. He has been a professional writer in the area of health and fitness for over a decade. He is a regular contributor to several sports magazines including Ironman and Muscle & Fitness. A lifelong athlete, he has competed in wrestling, gymnastics, and competitive bodybuilding. He has judged bodybuilding competitions. After using Creatine and finding the benefits so remarkable, he was inspired to develop the informative book "CREATINE: Nature's Muscle Builder."

Bodybuilders are used to hearing claims about miracle supplements. Our sport has had a long history of manufacturers who promise the world to anyone with the cash to pay for the latest discovery. Perhaps you are one of those who have taken the plunge and forked out your hard-earned cash, only to be disappointed. If youíre like me, youíve learned to be very cautious about all those claims of increased strength and muscle mass in the advertisements.

Now along comes Creatine. Is it a miracle supplement? No, there is no such thing. But Iíve found it to be the most effective supplement on the market today. So effective that Iíve written "CREATINE: Natureís Muscle Builder" to tell everyone how to get the most from their Creatine use. Here are some important facts about Creatine. Please note that I am not connected with any manufacturer and I do not own stock in a related corporation. There is no hidden agenda here.

Creatine Allows Your Muscles to Store Energy

Your muscles rely on a Creatine-dependent energy system known as ATP-CP for quick, explosive movements. Since a muscle can store only enough ATP for less than ten seconds of peak contractions, ATP must be constantly replenished for exercise to continue. Creatine phosphate comes to the rescue, giving up its phosphate molecule to allow ATP to be resynthesized. So Creatine acts as an energy reservoir. When you need energy, your muscle taps into this reservoir to get the raw material it needs. The more Creatine you have, the more storage potential available.

Creatine Increases Strength and Power

Several researchers have confirmed that Creatine boosts muscular strength and power. One study found that 30 days of Creatine supplementation produced a 6% increase in the average weight that bodybuilders could lift on a set with a single repetition (1RM). There was also a 43% increase in total lifting volume during the month. Another study indicated that persons who took Creatine for 5 days achieved mean power outputs 5% higher than those using the placebo, while a third study showed an average 5% increase in force production during the same time period. So Creatine not only makes you stronger, but allows you to work longer and more intensely as well.

Creatine Boosts Protein Synthesis and Lean Muscle Mass

Greater Creatine concentrations within muscles result in additional protein synthesis. This occurs because Creatine stimulates the uptake of amino acids into the two contractile proteins of the muscle fiber, known as actin and myosin. The increase in quantity and thickness of these two protein-based myofilaments results in greater muscle mass. Further size gains are stimulated by the enhanced strength and power which Creatine provides. This allows you to lift more weight and perform more repetitions, so you can achieve progressive resistance and consequent muscle growth. These mass increases have been confirmed by three studies, which show average gains of 1 to 1.7 kg (2 to 3.7 lb) in total bodyweight within 30 days. That works out to a 2% gain in the bodybuildersí average lean muscle mass in one month.

While Creatine Is Available From Eating Meat, the Fat and Cholesterol Content Are Major Drawbacks

Creatine is found in moderate amounts in tuna, cod, salmon, herring, beef and pork. Tiny amounts are found in milk and even cranberries. Chicken and turkey probably contain Creatine as well, but there is no study that confirms this so far. Itís important to remember that meats and fish contain a lot more than Creatine. Animal flesh contains relatively high amounts of cholesterol. Most meats, especially beef and pork, also contain high quantities of fat. For example, one kilogram (2.2 lb) of raw round steak contains only four grams of Creatine, but 119 grams of fat. You wonít live very long if you clog your arteries with enough meat to get the amount of Creatine you need to improve your strength and power.

Your Body Can Store Only So Much Creatine

There is an upper limit to the amount of Creatine your body can store. Studies indicate that no more than four grams of Creatine can be accumulated in each kilogram of muscle tissue (a bit less than two grams per pound of lean muscle mass). Even if you are vegetarian, you already have some of this Creatine supply in your muscles because your body is able to synthesize it from three amino acids found in food. Meat-eaters will have higher Creatine concentrations. Your goal as a bodybuilder should be to fill up (load) your muscles with as much additional Creatine as possible, and then keep them as full as you can. Once your Creatine stores are saturated, you only need to replace the amount you metabolize during each workout. Any further supplementation will just get excreted in your urine.

Once It's In Your Muscles, Creatine Stays There For Weeks

While Creatine lasts only 1 to 1 1/2 hours in blood plasma, once it enters the muscle fiber it gets "trapped" there for a long time. As a result, Creatine concentrations within muscle are 200 times greater than they are in the blood surrounding the muscles. Two studies have shown that Creatine levels decline over the course of several weeks rather than days. So donít worry if you forget to take it for a day or two. A sedentary 70 kg (155 lb) man metabolizes an estimated two grams of Creatine per day. Scientists recognize that turnover is greater for active persons and athletes with larger muscle mass, but no one has yet analyzed the precise turnover rate for these individuals. Studies indicate, however, that the Creatine levels attained in muscle after a week of loading are maintained for at least four weeks with a maintenance dose that is much less than the loading dosage.

Creatine Has No Side Effects When Used Appropriately

The only "adverse effect" that has been documented in scientific literature is an increase in body mass, which bodybuilders will definitely not consider a problem. I have found, however, that some athletes report diarrhea or stomach upset when they take too much Creatine at once. The diarrhea and stomach problems almost always go away when the dosage is reduced.

The Amount of Creatine Needed Increases With Muscle Mass and Exercise Intensity

All human skeletal muscle contains Creatine. While fast-twitch muscle fibers have more Creatine pound for pound than slow-twitch fibers, every muscle contains a combination of fast- and slow-twitch fibers. So as you gain muscle mass, your maximum storage potential for Creatine goes up as well. The amount of Creatine you need to replace each day also depends on how much you metabolize during your workouts. Higher-intensity training will "burn off" more of your Creatine stores, requiring additional supplies on a regular basis to keep your Creatine supply bin filled. Itís kind of like topping the tank of your carís gasoline supply, while making sure that nothing spills out. Tailoring your Creatine intake to your muscle mass and exercise intensity will allow you to get the maximum gains from this powerful nutrient. Thatís why there are detailed dosage tables in "CREATINE: Natureís Muscle Builder"

CREATINE: Nature's Muscle Builder"CREATINE: Nature's Muscle Builder" is available at bookstores across the country. Best of luck in your training!

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