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pecialty Nutrients
The ABC's of Creatine

© Ray Sahelian MD, Dave Tuttle
 (Excerpted from Creatine: Nature's Muscle Builder, Avery Publishing Group, 1996)

Athletes frequently divide their creatine use into two phases. The first phase, called the loading phase, fills up the muscle fiber's storage capacity for this nutrient. This phase usually lasts five to seven days. After that, athletes reduce their creatine consumption to a lower dosage level which continues for an extended period of time. This second phase is called the maintenance phase.

How Much Creatine Is In My Body?
The amount of creatine you have in your body depends mostly on the amount of muscle you have. (There is no creatine in body fat.) The average 70 kg (155 lb) person has a total of about 120 grams (4.2 ounces) of creatine in their body at any one time. Vegetarians by and large have lower creatine levels than meat-eaters. A study by Walker showed that the average sedentary person uses up about two grams of creatine per day. This creatine is broken down into a waste product called creatinine, which is collected by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. Athletes use up much more than two grams per day, with the exact amount depending on the type of sport, intensity level and muscle mass.

Can I Get Enough Creatine From My Diet?
The average person consumes about one gram of creatine per day. Creatine is found in moderate amounts in most meats and fish, which are, after all, skeletal muscle. Good sources of dietary creatine include tuna, cod, salmon, herring, beef and pork. Tiny amounts are found in milk and even cranberries. While it would seem logical that chicken and turkey have creatine as well, we were unable to find any published data to confirm this. Cooking destroys part of the creatine that exists in these foods.

An important thing to remember is that meats and fish contain a lot more than creatine. All animal flesh contains relatively high amounts of cholesterol. Most meats, especially beef and pork, also contain high quantities of fat. One kilogram (2.2 pounds) of raw round steak contains only four grams of creatine, but 119 grams of fat. Porterhouse steak has a bit less creatine, but 325 grams of fat per kilo! Needless to say, you won't live to your 90s if you clog your arteries with the fat and cholesterol from all of the meat or even fish you'd have to eat to get the creatine you need to improve your strength and power. What you need is a nonfat, non-cholesterol supplement called creatine monohydrate.

Is Creatine Something New That Scientists Have Discovered?
While researching the scientific information published about this nutrient, we were surprised to learn that creatine was first discovered in 1832 by the French scientist Chevreul. This was way before barbells were invented! Creatine was first found in meats, and later, in 1847, a sharp observer noticed that the meat from foxes killed in the wild had ten times as much creatine as the meat from inactive, domesticated foxes. He concluded that creatine accumulates in muscles as a consequence of physical activity.

In the early 20th century, it was discovered that not all of the creatine consumed by humans is excreted in the urine. This led to the recognition that creatine is, in fact, stored within the body. In 1912, researchers found that ingesting creatine can dramatically boost the creatine content of muscle. Then, in 1927, Fiske and Subbarow discovered creatine phosphate, and determined that creatine is a key player in the metabolism of skeletal muscle.

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About The Author
Ray Sahelian, M.D., is a popular and respected physician who has been seen on numerous television programs including NBC Today, Dateline NBC, and CNN, and quoted by countless major magazines such as Newsweek He is the bestselling author of Mind Boosters, Natural Sex Boosters, and ...more
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