Fitness and the Importance of Creatine
In this blog we will discuss the truth about how creatine may help benefit your exercise and help you achieve your fitness goals.‡
Before I became a licensed and credentialed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and started working in the clinical healthcare field, I put bread on the table by working in fitness centers and gyms. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved to exercise. I was on the basketball team in 5th grade. Then, once I realized I’d never grow taller than 61 inches no matter how much creatine I took, I switched over to the swim team and stuck with it all throughout college. During college, I became certified in cycle and strength training and conditioning. My first job was working at a gym teaching strength training and cycle classes. When members at my gym found out I was studying to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, the number one question I’d always receive was, “What does creatine do?” and, “Does creatine actually help?”
Let me tell you, health feels like a balancing act every day of your life. Fitness is just one key factor in a healthy lifestyle. There are so many moving parts that sometimes it makes that 1,000 piece puzzle look easy. When it comes to fitness, I have to admit that amino acids and creatine have the potential to help you achieve your fitness goals.‡
Let’s Talk Building Blocks
I’ll set the scene: You’re at the gym and you just awkwardly locked eyes with the person drinking a protein shake while standing still on the treadmill you’re waiting to use. What’s in that protein shake? You may be wondering. Is protein even necessary after working out? These are normal thoughts that run through almost everyone’s mind.
To understand protein and its role in fitness, we first need to understand amino acids. Amino acids are organic compounds made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen that act as building blocks that assemble into proteins like enzymes, actin and myosin, which enable muscle cells to function at their best. Therefore, it’s important to meet your protein needs through food sources and consider a protein supplement if you fall short.
A special class of amino acids, called branched chain amino acids (BCAA), are worth mentioning here, as they are more than just building blocks:
- BCAA (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) help to maintain lean muscle mass, in part by serving as an energy source and by reducing protein breakdown that occurs during prolonged, intense exertion.‡
- BCAA may also help support mental and physical performance and help reduce recovery time in athletes and those engaged in strenuous physical activity.1 ‡
- BCAA are found naturally in dietary protein sources like lean meats, fish and whey, but supplementing with a BCAA powder offers convenience and precision in dosing.
So, the next time you see your gym buddy crack open their protein shake, it may be for reasons other than the fact that it tastes good. Amino acid replenishment and great taste may just be a recipe worth keeping.
Level Up with Creatine
Now, what does creatine do? I’ve had so many strength training members ask me this. Well, let me tell you a bit about this important amino acid. Creatine is made from three amino acids: methionine, glycine, and arginine. It’s found mostly in muscle and brain cells, and it may play an important role in fueling your workout and helping your muscles function at their best.‡
- Creatine monohydrate, found in our Athletic Nutrients, may increase optimal work output during short-duration, high-intensity exercise and it may encourage lean muscle mass during strength and conditioning programs.‡ Most studies showing performance benefits in athletes have used doses of 5 g per day. Lower doses may also be effective, but more research is needed.3,4,5‡
- Creatine’s primary role is to regenerate the energy molecule, ATP, which fuels working muscles.6 ‡
- Creatine also serves as a buffer during exercise, delaying muscle fatigue and discomfort.7 ‡
When taken consistently, creatine supports strength and power output during short bouts of intense exercise (think HIIT-style classes and weight training). It also helps our muscles and brain cells regenerate the cellular energy molecule ATP. These are just a few reasons you may see someone pour a creatine packet into their water bottle at the gym.‡
Don’t You…Forget About Me!
Okay, so we just showed a lot of love for BCAA and creatine. But amino acid supplements also deserve an honorable mention for your fitness regime.
- Essential Amino Acids are amino acids that your body can’t make, so these building blocks need to be supplemented or acquired through diet. In contrast, non-essential amino acids can be made through enzymatic reactions in the body.‡
- Our Amino Replete is a mix of essential and non-essential amino acids. It offers a comprehensive blend of free-form amino acids, provided in the ratios found naturally in high biological value (BV) protein sources. It helps maintain daily wellness with amino acid building blocks to support protein synthesis.8 ‡
- Side note: Vitamin B6 may also act as a cofactor for healthy amino acid and energy metabolism.‡
We work so hard, and put in so much time, effort, sweat and determination during our exercise routines. Why not support your physical body with amino acid building blocks to help support further protein synthesis?‡
Don’t forget the basics:
It’s easy to get confused with all the powders and protein shakes and, quite honestly, fitness supplement options that are available out there. Sometimes all you need is a steady, reliable classic fitness supplement, the protein shake. Protein powders aren’t something to be overlooked! For example, our WheyBasics provides 21 grams of highly purified, cold-processed, undenatured whey protein per serving. The nice thing about whey protein (any maybe one of the reasons why it’s so popular on the market today) is that it naturally contains high levels of branched-chain amino acids, as well as immunoglobulins and lactoferrin, which may help to maintain immune system function.12,13 If you want just a little more support for your physical fitness goals you could also consider another classic supplement option, a high-quality multivitamin. Meeting your vitamin and mineral needs is an important part of any fitness regimen.
That’s where our Athletic Pure Pack comes into play. This product was developed for that physically active individual looking for a researched-backed option that includes a complete multivitamin/mineral foundation plus additional support for physical endurance and stamina.‡ These formulas combine bioavailable minerals, activated vitamins and antioxidants to support energy and endurance, while lessening muscle fatigue.‡
The Finish Line:
Although I loved my days at the gym and diet and exercise have become a natural part of my lifestyle, it’s nice to know the scientific “why” behind the protein craze at the gym. Now that you know too, how can you help support your fitness and step it up to a whole new level?
- 1. MacLean DA, GrahamTE, Saltin B. J Physiol (Lond) 1996 Jun 15;493 (Pt 3):909-922
2. Blomstrand E, Saltin B. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2001 Aug;281(2):E365-74.
3. Mendes RR, et al. J Nutr Biochem. 2004 Aug;15(8):473-8.
4. Chilibeck PD, et al. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2007 Dec;32(6):1052-7.
5. Chrusch MJ, et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Dec;33(12):2111-7.
6. Dabidi Roshan V, et al. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2013 Jun;53(3):232-9.
7. Dabidi Roshan V, et al. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2013 Jun;53(3):232-9.
8. Bukhari SS, et al. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Jun 15;308(12):E1056-65.
9. Volpi E, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Aug;78(2):250- 8.
10. Kingsbury KJ, Kay L, Hjelm M. Br J Sports Med. 1998 Mar;32(1):25-32.
11. Slowinska-Lisowska M, et al. Acta Physiol Hung. 2014 Dec;101(4):461-70.
12. Belobrajdic DP, et al. J Nutr. 2004;134(6);1454- 58.
13. Wong CW, et al. J Dairy Res. 1995 May;62(2):359-68.