Creatine is easily the most effective sports supplement available. Studies indicate that it works for 80% of all who use it. The 20% for whom creatine is less effective are those who consume foods rich in creatine several times a week, such as meat and fish. There is so much data published about creatine that I could write a newsletter entirely on creatine, although I doubt that it would attract mass appeal. But along with its popularity, many myths and misperceptions have emerged about creatine. For example, I've seen reports about creatine in the popular media where it has been wrongly referred to as a "steroid." That is a reflection of poor reporting and especially poor research. Creatine is not a steroid. A steroid is defined in biochemistry as having a precursor of cholesterol along with a specific basic structure. Creatine has nothing to do with cholesterol and is in fact produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas from three amino acid precursors, namely methionine, glycine, and arginine.
Although creatine is a relatively new supplement, it was discovered back in 1835 by a French scientist named Chevreul, while research began on how it works in the body at the turn of the 20th century. Indeed, a study published in 1926 examined the properties of a form of creatine called creatine ethyl ester and found it to be completely ineffective. Despite that, this form of creatine was resurrected about 70 years later and touted as being "the most effective form of creatine available." One company even advertised that it was "4,000% more effective than creatine monohydrate," which was the standard supplemental form of creatine. That fraudulent bubble burst when studies that examined the effectiveness of creatine ester found that it was converted into the primary metabolic byproduct of creatine, creatinine, 30 minutes following oral ingestion. This is just one example of the many myths that circulate about creatine.
Despite a plethora of information about creatine available over the Internet and in countless videos, many people still seem to be confused about many aspects of creatine and what it does. The main function of creatine is to act as a cellular backup for the production of adenosine triphosphate or ATP. ATP is the immediate source of cellular energy but only lasts for about six seconds. Having sufficient creatine stored in muscle as creatine phosphate ensures that ATP is rapidly replenished. This translates into greater energy for training, allowing you to train harder and thus make greater gains in muscular size and strength. Studies show that you make greater strength gains if you take longer rests between sets, around 2 to 3 minutes. The reason for that is it takes that long for the muscle to replenish depleted ATP stores via the storage of creatine phosphate in the muscle. Indeed, 95% of creatine in the body is stored in muscles. But that's hardly the only thing that creatine does. Emerging research shows . . .