Creatine is, without question, the most effective single sports supplement available. No other food supplement can match the research data showing that creatine works for 80% of those who use it. The 20% that creatine doesn't work as well for are usually those who consume foods naturally high in creatine, such as red meat. But creatine will still provide considerable benefits even for those who eat meat intermittently. Creatine is synthesized in the body from the amino acid precursors, methionine, glycine, and arginine. It is produced in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys in a dose of about one gram. If you consume foods rich in creatine, such as red meat, you will obtain on average another gram of creatine a day. Although sales of creatine supplements became popular in the early 1990s, creatine was used for years prior to that by Russian and East German athletes. They consumed vials of creatine phosphate shortly before competition. But because the emphasis back then was more on anabolic drugs, this athletic use of creatine went largely unnoticed.
The main function of creatine in the body is to act as a cellular backup for the production of the most elemental energy source in the body, adenosine triphosphate or ATP. ATP itself is the end result of the metabolism of energy-containing nutrients, such as protein, fat, and carbohydrate and is produced by the electron transport system in the mitochondrial portion of cells. ATP provides energy when one of its three phosphate groups breaks off. What results is ADP or adenosine diphosphate, meaning that it now contains two phosphate groups. This is where creatine comes into play. Creatine is stored in muscle as creatine phosphate, and when ATP is converted into ADP, creatine rapidly donates a phosphate group that replenishes the missing phosphate in ADP to become ATP. It's a constant cycle, but this process takes about three minutes to complete. For this reason, it's often suggested that rest times between sets should be at least three minutes to allow complete replenishment of ADP to ATP. Doing so has the effect of increasing muscular recovery and strength, which in turn means more effective gains in muscular size and strength.
Because of its effects on muscular energy, creatine is a useful supplement for any diet. But it can be particularly beneficial when consuming a low carbohydrate diet or ketogenic diet, which involves consuming only about 20 grams of carbohydrate a day. Although carbohydrates, contrary to popular belief, are not essential in human nutrition, they are still considered the most efficient energy source, especially for high intensity exercise. Carbs aren't essential because what is essential is glucose, the only type of sugar that circulates in the blood. But glucose can be synthesized in the body from amino acids, glycerol from fat, and even lactate, a byproduct of exercise metabolism. This process of conversion to glucose is called gluconeogenesis and occurs in the liver.But while . . .