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Creatine in Beef vs. Chicken

By Andrea Cespedes

Creatine is an amino acid, or building block of protein, that your body makes naturally. Avid bodybuilders and athletes may take creatine supplements to help improve athletic performance and build muscle mass. Or you can choose to increase your intake naturally by consuming creatine-rich foods. Beef, but not chicken, is a good source of this amino acid.

Signficance

Your body changes creatine into creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine to use for energy, especially during high-intensity exercise that lasts a short time, such as sprinting or heavy weightlifting. The International Society of Sports Nutrition calls creatine the most effective performance-enhancing nutritional supplement available to athletes seeking increased lean body mass and high-intensity exercise capabilities. Creatine supplements may also be recommended to treat high triglycerides, exercise fatigue in heart patients, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and muscular dystrophy. The University of Maryland Medical Center points out that evidence supporting the use of creatine for any of these conditions, including improved athletic performance, is inconsistent. You should use creatine supplements only under the advisement of a physician.

Sources

Your body manufactures about half of the creatine you need from other amino acids found in your liver, kidney and pancreas. Wild game, such as elk and venison, is the best source of naturally occurring creatine, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Lean red meat, such as flank steak or beef filet, provides 2 grams per 16-ounce portion. Fish -- including herring, salmon and tuna -- is another good source. Chicken and other poultry contains very little creatine.

Quality

Although beef contains creatine, some of it is destroyed during the cooking process. How much really depends on the cooking method, cut of beef and final temperature -- so you can’t be sure how much creatine you get when consuming cooked beef. Chicken is a source of protein but not a rich source of creatine.

Dosing

The International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that .3 grams of creatine per kilogram of body weight for three days, followed by 3 to 5 grams per day thereafter, can help boost and maintain your stores most effectively. For a 150-pound person, the three-day amount needed, according to this recommendation, is about 20 grams per day. You would have to eat more than 10 pounds of beef daily to achieve this quantity -- an impossible amount. Even for maintenance level of 3 to 5 grams per day requires you to consume more than 1 pound of beef daily. Chicken does not help you boost your levels of creatine. Powdered supplements are a more efficient way to consume high doses, but consult your health-care provider before adding them to your diet.

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