Red meat is a rich source of creatine. A kilogram (2.2 pounds) contains 5 grams of creatine. Creatine is supplemented by athletes, bodybuilders, and recreational lifters for its benefits, but if you eat a decent amount of red meat, is there any benefit?
Well, the commonly suggested amount of supplementation is 5g daily. As it would take 2.2 pounds of steak to reach 5g, I think it’s safe to say that most people aren’t eating 2.2 pounds of steak per day (although I know there are people who do, and I admit that I often have meals that contain 2+ pounds of steak). But let’s assume that you are eating 2.2 lb of steak per day. Is there still a benefit to supplementing?
The answer is yes. Despite the fact that 2.2 lb of steak contains 5g of creatine, the creatine degrades when it is cooked. How much it degrades will depend on how it is cooked, but you’re probably looking at about 25% degradation (and possibly more). Your natural creatine stores also deplete throughout the day, so supplementation will help keep your levels elevated.
Additionally, creatine from meat isn’t assimilated into the muscles as fast as creatine from supplementation is. Because of this slower assimilation, if you only obtain creatine from meat your muscles will not be saturated to the point where enhanced performance is experienced, which is where supplementing creatine prior to an event or lift has an advantage.
When it comes to athletics and lifting, the main point of creatine supplementation is to increase the amount of stored creatine in your muscles. These higher creatine levels increase allow your muscles to generate more ATP (a source of energy), which will increase performance and aid recovery. This is very important for lifters because that extra energy enables them to do things like add that additional 2.5 lb plate to each side of the barbell, grind out one more rep, and recover faster, leading to enhanced muscle growth and strength.
So even though you may eat a lot of red meat, your muscles will not be able to saturate to the point that they would if you supplemented creatine in addition to your meat consumption. By consuming red meat and supplementing creatine, you are ensuring that your muscles are more highly saturated, enabling you to gain more muscle, strength, and enhance your performance.
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Read about the differences between forms of creatine here:
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