Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cut Through the Hype: Creatine Monohydrate

You know the drill: You open a muscle or fitness magazine and it’s the same old thing: Pages and pages of expensive advertising all flogging the latest supplement with claims about “hyper-compound diffusion” or some “psychoneuro” complex. Every single one of these ads claims to be the latest scientific breakthrough. Almost of the time though, it is the work of marketers, not scientists.

At iWinDirect, we aim to cut through the hype. Why pay for expensive products that are designed to maximize profit rather than maximize your results? And besides, who do you think pays for all of those fancy ads? That’s right: The consumer.

So we’ll start cutting through the hype, first with a look at Creatine Monohydrate. Few would deny that creatine is one of the most effective performance-enhancing supplements that you can buy, so why muddle everything with a bunch of add-ons that are either scientifically questionable or ineffective at the low levels many companies decide to toss in there?

What is Creatine Monohydrate?

Creatine is a nutrient found naturally in the human body, where it is crucial to muscular contraction. It is formed in the liver by a metabolic pathway that requires the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. It can also be obtained from foods such as red meat, fish, and chicken. In the human body, almost all creatine is found in muscle cells.

When taken as an oral supplement, creatine increases the amount of energy available to working muscles, meaning that muscles can work harder and longer. If you’re a recreational or competitive athlete, or if you use your muscles at work, then you can benefit from creatine supplementation.

To understand how creatine functions as a performance-enhancing supplement, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the energetics of muscle contraction. Each individual muscle fibre contains two types of filaments: thick filaments and thin filaments. The contraction of muscle is due to the shortening of individual muscle fibres as these filaments slide together. Energy is required to slide the filaments together and cause muscle contraction, and this energy must come in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the ‘energy currency’ of the muscle cell. Its unique chemical structure allows it to store a great deal of energy, and to transfer this energy to other molecules, which provides the energy that drives many metabolic processes of the body. Muscle contraction occurs as ATP provides the energy needed to pull together the filaments of the contracting muscle. The energy stored in ATP is transferred to myosin, resulting in energized myosin and ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate), as outlined below.

ATP + muscle ==> ADP + energized muscle

The energizing of muscle must occur many times, using up a number of ATP molecules, in order to fully contract a muscle. The pool of available ATP in the muscle cell is very rapidly depleted, however, and new ATP must be produced for muscular contraction to continue (the ATP pool contains only enough energy for about 1-2 seconds). A deficit of ATP in contracting muscle results in fatigue and decreased strength, power, and endurance. The fastest way in which ATP is regenerated in the muscle cell is through the high-energy molecule creatine phosphate (CrP). This molecule, which comprises about two thirds of the creatine found in muscle cells, rapidly regenerates ATP from ADP, as outlined below. The ATP produced is then available to fuel further muscle contraction.

Creatine phosphate + ADP ==> Creatine + ATP

Published reports estimate that the pool of creatine phosphate will be depleted within approximately 10 seconds during high intensity muscular contraction. Increasing the amount of available creatine phosphate increases the rate at which ATP is made available to contracting muscle cells.

Oral supplementation with Creatine Monohydrate has been proven in scientific trials and studies to increase the amount of creatine and phosphocreatine in muscle cells. This increase in PCr allows the muscles to work harder and longer, making Creatine Monohydrate an effective ergogenic supplement.

If you have any doubt about the science behind the use of creatine monohydrate, note that the extremely strict Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate has even reviewed the research and concluded that the following claims can be made on this amazing compound:
• Increases fat-free/body/muscle/lean mass/size when used in conjunction with a resistance training regimen
• Improves strength/power/performance in repetitive bouts of brief, highly-intense physical activity (e.g. sprints, jumping, resistance training)

Let’s see the latest “scientifically engineered” or “concentrated” creatine try that.

Visit for your creatine requirements. Available in powder and capsule form.

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