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Sources of Creatine: Meat vs Supplements?

Creatine is one of the most popular supplements among athletes. Especially among those who do strength and conditioning sports. This supplement has been studied in more than 1,000 experiments.

Creatine supplements increase the intramuscular concentration of creatine, which improves physical performance during training and adaptation to them. Studies have also shown that creatine intake can improve recovery from exercise and reduce the risk of injury.

Sources of Creatine: Meat vs Supplements?

Sports nutritionists claim the following effects of creatine intake:

  • muscle gain, as an adaptation to training
  • enhanced glycogen synthesis
  • increase of an anaerobic threshold that is important at training sessions of strength endurance
  • increase of working capacity and easier load tolerance
  • improved recovery.

Amount of Creatine in Our Muscles

The average 70 kg young male has a creatine pool of around 120-140 mmol/kg which varies between individuals depending on the skeletal muscle fiber type and quantity of muscle mass. In most people, creatine can accumulate in concentrations up to about 160 mmol/kg.

Amount of creatine in our muscles

As can be seen in the chart, the lowest concentration of creatine has vegetarians (100 mmol/kg), followed by non-vegetarians (120 mmol/kg). In those who take creatine in the form of a supplement with a loading phase, the concentration increases to 140 mmol/kg of muscle, supplementing creatine with carbohydrates or carbohydrates and protein can reach 155 mmol/kg of lean muscle mass at the loading phase.

About 1-2% of intramuscular creatine is degraded into creatinine (metabolic byproduct) and excreted in the urine. Therefore, the body needs to replenish about 1-3 g of creatine per day to maintain normal (unsupplemented) creatine stores. The more muscle you have, the more creatine you need.

Creatine is a natural compound that accumulates in animals in the same body parts as in humans. Therefore, its best sources are skeletal muscles and the heart of animals.

The content of creatine per 1 kg of raw product is:

  • herring – 6.5-10 g
  • pork – 5 g
  • beef and salmon – 4.5 g
  • tuna – 4 g
  • chicken and rabbit – 3.4 g
  • cod – 3 g per 1 kg
  • beef steak – 2.5 g per 1 kg
  • flounder – 2 g per 1 kg
  • pork heart – 1.5 g per 1 kg

Dairy products are poor in creatine.  On the contrary, milk contains just 0.1 g per liter of creatine. By the way, natural creatine sources are absorbed more slowly than from supplements. The total bioavailability (amount of assimilated creatine) is absolutely identical.

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So Do You Need Supplements?

Although fish and meat are sources of dietary creatine, we do not eat these products in kilograms. Even if we take 1-2 g of creatine from products, restock of creatine stocks replenish approximately 60-80%. In practice, the remaining 20-40% can provide creatine in the form of supplements.

In fact, taking creatine as a supplement certainly allows you to restock skeletal muscle reserves. This is especially true for men (and in particular, vegetarians) with impressive muscle mass, which may need 5-10 g of the supplement per day to maintain creatine stores. The rest need to take 3-5 g of creatine per day.

By the way, studies have shown creatine supplementation to have larger effects in vegetarians than meat eaters. Especially if you take creatine during the loading stage.

Let me remind you that the most studied form of creatine is the good old creatine monohydrate. It is currently the most effective supplement for athletes who want to increase physical performance, strength, and muscle mass. Well, given one of the cheapest prices, effectiveness, and safety of creatine monohydrate for healthy people, why not make it a №1 supplement in your diet?

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Sergii Putsov

Author: Sergii Putsov
Head of Sport Science, PhD

Experience: 20 years
Best ResultsSnatch – 165 kg,
C&J – 200 kg

Sergii Putsov, Ph.D., is a former professional weightlifter and National team member, achieving multiple medals in the 94 kg weight category at national competitions. With a Master’s degree in “Olympic & Professional Sport Training” and a Sport Science Ph.D. from the International Olympic Academy, Greece, Sergii now leads as the Head of Sport Science. He specializes in designing training programs, writing insightful blog articles, providing live commentary at international weightlifting events, and conducting educational seminars worldwide alongside Olympic weightlifting expert Oleksiy Torokhtiy.

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