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Bulletin #97 – Nutritional Supplementation: An Overview, Part 3

Creatine is one of the most powerful sports nutrition supplements available. It is remarkable in that creatine causes noticeable increases in muscle size and strength within as little as one week of use. To understand how creatine works, you have to know a little about muscle physiology.The immediate source of chemical energy which is used to power muscular contractions is a molecule called ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. When the food you eat is oxidized, or burned, to produce energy, that energy is used to generate ATP. Then the ATP is used to power muscle contractions. A good analogy is a coal-fired generator. Coal is burned to produce heat, which then heats water to make steam, which then turns a turbine to make electric-ity. The electricity then runs your fan. It’s a process of transforming chemical energy (in the coal) into heat energy (in the steam) into electrical energy (the electricity), and finally into mechanical energy, the air moving from the fan. The energy (calories) in the food you eat is transformed into a chemical form of energy called ATP, which then is used to power muscle contractions.Here’s where creatine comes into play: ATP is called a “phosphagen,” a high-energy phosphate compound .

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Adenosine triphos-phate contains three phosphate groups, thus the name “triphosphate.” Phosphate groups are strongly negatively charged. These nega-tively charged portions of the molecule repel each other, making the molecule want to break apart. When it does break apart, split-ting a chemical bond, energy is released. It is that energy which is used to make muscles contract. When ATP breaks apart, one of the phosphate groups comes off, forming a free phosphate and ADP, or adenosine diphosphate (“diphosphate” means two phosphate groups remain). As you continue to perform reps the ATP gets used up, leav-ing ADP as a by-product. Creatine helps re-from the ATP. Here’s howOnce creatine gets inside muscle cells, a phosphate group is added to form creatine phosphate . Creatine phosphate is then in a position to donate its phosphate group to ADP, thereby re-generating ATP. So, the more creatine you have inside your muscle cells, the more ATP you can make, and the more energy you have to power muscle contractions .

Bottom line More creatine allows you to con-stantly keep your ATP levels topped off, so you have more energy for muscular contrac-tions . And that means more strength, and more reps . Creatine supplementation results in an increase in strength between 5-15%, depend-ing on what your creatine levels were before-hand . And it also increases your endurance, for another two or three reps per set. So you lift more weight, for more reps, which obvi-ously is going to help your muscles grow faster. Regarding performance, creatine helps the most in situations of very intense exercise, when ATP is rapidly depleted. The best examples are weight lifting and sprint-ing, where busts of maximal or near maximal effort are required. It is not so important in really long endurance exercise, where the intensity of effort is lower but for a longer time.

The best uses are in applications such as weight lifting, sprinting, and in sports where bursts of very high intensity effort are required, like football, baseball, and basket-ball. In high intensity exercise, creatine has proven to definitely improve performance. Competitive athletes in sports such as these would be fools to be without it.Muscle sizeRegarding muscle size, creatine helps in two ways. A more long-term effect is that creatine supplementation allows you to lift more weight for more reps, so you get more muscle fiber hypertrophy. A more immediate effect is that as muscle cells take up creatine, it takes water along with it. So it makes the muscle fibers swell, getting bigger and harder. After a month of creatine supplementation, you might ingest only 250 grams of creatine, but gain six to fourteen pounds of muscle mass. That weight is mostly water, being drawn inside muscles cells by the extra creatine. It’s kind of like having a constant pump.Your body makes some creatine naturally. The kidneys make about one gram per day .

Creatine is also contained in meat, and the average diet of meat eaters supplies about another gram per day. So, without creatine supplementation, you get about two grams per day, unless you’re a vegetar-ian, in which case you get about one gram per day. Creatine supplementation allows you to propel this to a much higher level. This increases the amount of creatine inside muscle cells, making them bigger and harder and stronger .The way to use creatine is to start with a loading phase, which usually is 20 grams a day for five to seven days. To do this, take five grams (one teaspoon) four times a day, for five to seven days. This is followed by the maintenance phase, which is five to ten grams a day. After only one month, you will see a noticeable increase in size and strength. Parrillo Creatine Monohydrate™ is the high-est purity creatine supplement available. And a word of caution: don’t be fooled into buying creatine phosphate supplements. It sounds like a good idea, until you realize creatine phosphate is not absorbed from the intestine .

You need to use creatine monohy-drate, which is absorbed from the intestines. Once transported inside muscle cells, it is converted into creatine phosphate. Also beware of liquid creatine supplements, as creatine will break down after a few weeks of being dissolved in water.Supplements to use with creatineTo boost your gains through the roof, there’s an excellent supplement to use in combination with creatine: 50-50 Plus™. 50-50 Plus™ is a drink mix made from about 50% protein and 50% carbohydrate. The protein portion is very much like our Hi-Protein Powder™, and the carbohydrate part is derived from Pro-Carb™. Studies have shown that a combination of protein and carbohydrate like this works better at promoting muscular growth than either one alone. Combining creatine with 50-50 Plus™ is, quite frankly, the most potent nutritional supplement available for sup-porting muscle growth. The amino acid profile of the protein is ideal for supporting muscular growth, and the carbohydrate replenishes glycogen, further enhancing energy levels and strength. The best time to use this combination is after training. At that time your muscles are depleted and are begging for nutrients. The protein acts to repair muscle damage from training as well as to supply the building blocks to gener-ate new muscle tissue.

The carbohydrate replenishes glycogen, as well as increasing uptake of the amino acids and creatine by muscle cells. If you’re on a budget and want to keep things simple, try 50-50 Plus™ along with creatine. After just one month, used in combination with proper diet, you will see and feel a difference.Another very effective supplement, which is often overlooked, is Parrillo Liver-Amino Formula™. Some people have the misconception that this is just a fancy protein supplement in the form of a pill, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is much more that that, and is a first-line supplement for many athletes. In addition to providing a very high quality protein source, this supplement also includes heme iron and B vitamins, including a rich source of B-12. Most iron supplements are very poorly absorbed. “Heme iron” is iron combined with a chemical group called “heme,” for which hemoglobin is named. Hemoglobin is the protein molecule inside red blood cells that binds oxygen, transporting it to tissues. Heme iron is absorbed much more efficiently than non-heme iron, and works much better to build red blood cells.

This enhances oxy-gen transport, greatly facilitating endurance, growth, and recovery. Many athletes are actually iron de-ficient, especially female athletes. Studies have shown that 25% of female athletes suf-fer from iron deficiency, without even know-ing about it. Correction of iron deficiency anemia results in a dramatic improvement in exercise performance. Without adequate oxygen delivery, your muscles simply can-not work like they’re supposed to. If oxygen delivery is compromised, then energy pro-duction is compromised, and strength and endurance suffer. Many people who take our Liver-Amino Formula™ are amazed at the increase in energy level they have. And increased energy leads to longer, harder, more intense, and more productive work-outs. Liver-Amino Formula isn’t really a mass-building supplement, like creatine and 50-50 Plus™ are. It’s more of a performance supplement. It enhances energy production by helping to build red blood cell mass and thereby increasing oxygen delivery to working muscles.

This improves exercise performance as well as enhancing recovery and boosting energy levels.  flu, or oth-er pesky infection. But it happens and for various reasons. One has to do with the po-tentially “dark side” of exercise: In certain circumstances, exercise can suppress your immune system, which is your defense against infections and illness, by altering hormonal and biochemical functions in the body. Not to worry, though: In most situa-tions, exercise does the opposite. It enhances your immune system . But what of those cases where exer-cise impairs immune defenses?According to scientific research, these can occur under the following cir-cumstances1: • You’re under mental stress. •  You’re undernourished.   (Re-search indicates athletes consume about 25 percent fewer calories than they need, leading to deficiencies of many essential nutrients.) 2 • You exercise in a carbohydrate-depleted state (this increases the circula-tion of stress hormones in your body, plus harms immune-protective substances in the body). • You’ve attempted quick weight loss through caloric deprivation. •

You’ve practiced improper hy-giene.The good news is that you can protect yourself from infections with improved nu-trition and lifestyle practices. Here’s a look at how:1. Supplement with extra carbsSupplementation with carbohydrate beverages be-fore, during, and after exercise has been shown to strength-en immune responses . For example, it reduces levels of the hormone cortisol in blood. That’s good, since cortisol suppresses immune response . Carbo-hydrate supple-mentation also appears to protect various types of immune cells from weakening .3 If you’re on the Parrillo Nutri-tion Program™ a good supplement choice is our ProCarb™ For-mula, which can be used before, during, and after a workout.2. Consume whey protein supple-mentsResearch shows that whey protein diets in-crease the amount of glutathione in body tissues. Gluta-thione is a peptide (an amino acid de-rivative) that is involved in strengthening immunity.

The elevation of glutathione has been shown to inhibit the development of several types of tumors, ac-cording to numerous studies .4Whey protein is found in the follow-ing products Optimized Whey Protein™, Hi-Protein Powder™, 50/50 Plus Pow-der™, Parrillo Sports Nutrition Bars™, Parrillo Protein Bars™, and Parrillo Energy Bars™.3. Beware of the “overtraining myth.”“Overtraining” refers to poor perfor-mance in training and competition, and its symptoms include fatigue, frequent illness, disturbed sleep, and moodiness.5Overtraining, however, is simply “un-derrecovery” or “undereating” not taking in enough nutrients to fully recover from your workouts. If ample nutrients are not provided, intense workouts won’t do much good. But once you get in the habit of mak-ing your nutrition as intense as your training, your workouts will be much more produc-tive, and you’ll see results much quicker.Make sure you remain in a calorie surplus that is, eating ample calories and taking in supplemental nutrients to support your energy needs throughout the day . Fol-low a high-calorie nutrition program, and you should have enough energy stamina to blast through any workout, regardless of how long or intense it is.

You’ll also have enough recuperative power to sustain you from workout to workout, without any com-promise of energy or immune function.4. Take antioxidantsAntioxidants are nutrients found in foods and supplements that protect the body from the onslaught of disease-causing free radicals. Free radical damage has been implicated in diseases such as cancer and heart disease .Fortunately, free radicals aren’t al-lowed to do their bad deeds without being policed. They’re apprehended by the antioxi-dant nutrients, which include vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, and certain minerals and enzymes . These nutrients simply donate an electron to a free radical but without chang-ing into a radical itself. This action “neutral-izes,” or stops the dangerous multiplication of still more free radicals.  Supplementing with antioxidant nutri-ents has been found in research to help pro-tect the body against age-related diseases. You get vitamins A and E by eating a diet rich in vegetables and whole grains. Vitamin A, in particular, is found in yellow and or-ange foods, such as yams a bodybuilding staple. Nutritionists feel that our diets don’t supply all the vitamin E needed for good health.

Thus, supplementation of vitamin E is recommended .By following the Parrillo Nutrition Program™ and supplementing with the Parrillo Essential Vitamin Formula™ and the Parrillo Mineral-Electrolyte Formula™ you supply your body with the antioxidant vitamins and minerals it needs for good health .5. Try arginineArginine is considered a non-essential amino acid, meaning the body can syn-thesize it from proteins and other nutrients . Despite the fact that arginine is labeled non-essential, it has a number of important functions in the body, including the fortifica-tion of the immune system. In studies with animals and humans, arginine has been found to improve wound healing and bolster immune responses, plus reduce the incidence of infection following surgery.6,7Arginine has other duties, as well. It is required to manufacture creatine, an impor-tant chemical in the muscles that provides the energy for contractions. In addition, Arginine apparently helps prevent the body from breaking down protein in muscles and organs to repair itself when injured. Meat, poultry, and fish are good sources of arginine, as are numerous supplements, including our Enhanced GH Formula™ and our Ultimate Amino Formula™. 6. Get in the zinc syncZinc has far-reaching roles in the body. For example, it helps absorb vitamins; break down carbohydrates; and regulate the growth and development of reproductive organs .

Zinc is also an important immune-boosting mineral, involved in making su-peroxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant enzyme that inactivates certain free radicals. Zinc, however, can be depleted by pro-longed, high-intensity exercise if you’re poorly nourished. Because zinc is required for the activity of several enzymes involved in energy metabolism, reductions in zinc concentrations in muscle may lead to muscle fatigue .8 The best sources of zinc are lean proteins, whole grains, and mineral supple-ments. Zinc is one of the minerals found in our Mineral-Electrolyte Formula™.7. Manage athletic stressHard-training bodybuilders and ath-letes can succumb to the immune-weaken-ing effects of stress just like anyone else. Here are some ways to pre-vent this9:• Vary your train-ing routine to avoid mo-notony.• Space your compe-titions appro-priately so as to not place undue bur-den on your recovery and immune re-sponses.• Practice stress reduction strategies such as relaxation if you’re continually stressed out over competition.• Get adequate rest and recovery.• Reduce environmental stress by limiting the time you train in heat, cold, humidity, or polluted air.• Practice good hygiene to limit the transmission of contagious illnesses.• Get regular medical check-ups if you have recurrent infections.


1.Nieman, D.C. 1997. Exercise immu-nology: practical applications. International Journal of Sports Medicine 18: S91-S100.

2.Venkatraman, J.T., et al. 2000. Dietary fats and immune status in athletes: clinical implications . Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 32: S389-S395.Immuno-Nutrition

3.Nieman, D.C. 1999. Nutrition, exer-cise, and immune system function. Clinics in Sports Medicine 18: 537-548 .

4 .Bounous, G ., et al . Whey proteins in cancer prevention. Cancer Letter 57: 91-94 .

5.MacKinnon, L.T. 2000. Special fea-ture for the Olympics: effects of exercise on the immune system: overtraining effects on immunity and performance in athletes. Im-munology and Cell Biology 78: 502-509 .

6.Barbul, A., et al. 1990. Arginine enhances wound healing and lymphocyte immune responses in humans . Surgery 108: 331-336 .

7.Evoy, D. 1998. Immunonutrition: the role of arginine. Nutrition 14: 611-617.

8.Cordova, A. 1995. Behaviour of zinc in physical exercise: a special references to immunity and fatigue. Neuroscience and Biobehavorial Reviews 19: 439-445

9.Gleeson, M. 2000. The scientific basis of practical strategies to maintain the immunocompetence in elite athletes. Exer-cise Immunology Review 6: 75-101

2018-03-13T11:10:30-04:00 July 3rd, 2009|Technical Supplement Bulletins|

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