Safe and Natural Sources of Creatine
It is well known by now that creatine supplementation has been scientifically proven to actually increase muscle mass and endurance in individuals that lift weights. You did know that didn’t you?
But, did you also know that creatine does not have to come from supplementation alone?
Creatine is actually a completely natural compound of amino acids which are found in foods we eat, such as meat or fish or produced by our own bodies in the liver, kidneys and pancreas.
There are some conflicting reports among the medical profession about the dangers of creatine supplementation, one being that it is thought the body may stop naturally producing its own source of creatine if constantly being supplied by a supplement, with others reporting an intolerance and unwanted side effects.
Whether you currently use creatine in supplement form or not, it may be worth looking at some of the natural alternatives available on your supermarket shelves.
Your first source of natural creatine is your very own body!
Yes, we actually produce the stuff ourselves, as it is a naturally occurring amino acid which we manufacture using a combination of other amino acids such as arginine, glycine and methionine.
Although dependant on our body size, a typical 70kg person is known to store on average 120 grams of creatine in their muscles, with a daily turnover of about 2g. Research has also shown that the more creatine that is taken in through diet the less is actually produced by the body.
The next obvious source of creatine is of course our food, with the best sources coming from:
– Animal Proteins, especially beef and other red meats, with a pound of beef providing 5 grams of creatine. It can also be found in lesser amounts in meats such as: chicken and turkey breast, lamb, venison, ostrich, pork and almost all other meats.
– Fish, such as salmon and tuna also contain relatively high amounts of creatine and almost as much as beef, with a pound of salmon providing 4.5g. Fish such as herring is also a good choice for those who want a relatively big hit of creatine from a natural (and healthy) source. Most other fish will provide you with about a 2g yield per pound.
It should be noted that the amounts of creatine actually available to your body, as with any nutritional intake, is very much dependant on the quality and source of the meat or fish which you choose to eat. The better the quality, the higher amount of creatine meat will provide when consumed.
The way the meat is prepared and cooked will also vary the creatine levels and probably accounts for why beef, and in particular steak, especially when eaten ‘rare’, provides one of the highest levels across all of the meats.
The more you cook something, the more ‘damage’ you inflict on it and the less you get out of it – including the amount of creatine.
Unfortunately for vegetarians, or those who don’t like to eat fairly large amounts of meat or fish everyday, there are no real alternative natural sources, as vegetables, fruit and grains contain very little creatine, if any at all.
So, if you are like me and find that creatine supplementation gives you unpleasant side effects, such as bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, etc. or you don’t have the spare cash to spend on supplements, then never fear – you can still get the same proven, great benefits by eating the right foods and allowing your body to do the rest.
 Mark A. Jenkins, MD, “Creatine supplementation in athletes: Review.” SportsMed Web 1998.