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Creatine

Creatine continues to ride high on a wave of positive research results. As regular poeple will know, taking creatine supplements has consistently been shown to improve performance that involves repeated intensive exercise -

Once inside muscle cells, a proportion of creatine is converted into creatine phosphate. High levels of creatine phosphate are thought to increase muscles' capacity for work in three ways by providing an instant source of energy and by mopping up some of the fatigue-causing acid that builds up during high-intensity exercise and finally bydirectly stimulating muscle proteins to contract.

Much of the creatine research consists of carefully controlled lab studies. But what about real-life situations, where other factors may have an effect? The overall composition of the diet may be relevant. There have been suggestions that creatine supplementation has an optimal effect in the context of a high-carb diet. This is because carbohydrate stimulates insulin release, which in turn encourages the uptake of creatine into cells.

Another common dietary component is caffeine. Caffeine is known to boost the activity of the transport system that shuttles creatine from the bloodstream across into the muscle cells. It also increases the amount of adrenaline coursing through the blood, which should also encourage uptake of creatine. A team of Belgian researchers therefore recently investigated the effect of taking creatine supplements with caffeine. They anticipated that caffeine would lend a helping hand to creatine. They were surprised and disappointed to find the opposite caffeine actually counteracted creatine's positive effects.

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