What is Creatine?
Creatine is a derivative of three (3) amino acids, namely L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. It primarily helps the muscles produce energy when undergoing a high-intensity activity. Creatine is naturally produced in the liver, kidney, and pancreas at the rate of 1-2 grams per day. About 95% of creatine can be found in muscle cells, while the remaining 5% is stored in the brain, liver, and kidneys.
The energy system responsible for the short, rapid, and powerful movements that only last fewer than 10 seconds is the phosphagen system. They are also responsible for storing and replenishing the adenosine triphosphate or ATP. ATP is the one that provides energy to the working cells.
A small amount of ATP is stored in your muscles waiting for action, but it can also last for a few seconds. The ATP can be broken down by removing a phosphate, and then it will become adenosine diphosphate (two phosphates) or ADP. The muscles will need to find that third phosphate somewhere to have more ATP quickly.
This is the part where creatine phosphate will come into the equation. The creatine will donate its phosphate to the ADP to become an ATP again. The more creatine you have, the more potential ATP there is. Creatine plays a significant role in this whole process.
Our body naturally produces creatine, but we can also get creatine from various foods, including red meat, seafood, salmon, beef, and also supplements. There are many creatine supplements, such as creatine monohydrate (CRM) and creatine nitrate. However, creatine monohydrate is more common, widely studied, and well-researched between the two.
There are hundreds of studies throughout the decade that supported the effectiveness of creatine monohydrate. Studies show that CRM promotes muscle strength, increases muscle mass, enhances exercise performance, and most importantly, increases muscle phosphocreatine levels by approximately 15% to 40%.
There are multiple supplements available in the market, including the famous creatine supplements and the branched-chain amino acids or the best bcaa supplements. Each supplement has different effects, so choose one that best suits your end goal.
Benefits of Creatine
There are multiple aspects where a daily intake of creatine will help you. The following are only a few of the benefits creatine has to offer. Let’s have a look.
Improves High-Intensity Exercise Performance
The muscles heavily rely on the byproduct of the phosphagen energy system to perform short and fast energy bursts. This byproduct is called the adenosine triphosphate or ATP. Creatine is directly related to ATP production in our muscles. The more creatine the body has, the more potential ATP will be available. ATP is often referred to as the body’s energy currency.
The more ATP there is, the more energy you have to perform short periods of extremely intense and intermittent exercise. This includes sprinting, weight lifting, ballistic movements, heavy squat, etc.
However, endurance athletes may not benefit from this particular advantage because their sport relies on the aerobic energy system. They require a different energy system because their activities are far longer in duration and with low intensity. In simple words, creatine will help you best in a sprint but not in a marathon.
Supports Muscle Growth and Strength
One of the main functions of a creatine supplement is to increase your muscle size and strength. Studies have proven this accurate, and creatine is also the most effective supplement for this particular task.
Creatine does not have the power to build muscle, just to be precise. Instead, muscle growth increases due to water retention when the creatine causes the muscles to hold water. Moreover, taking creatine supplements in a prolonged time will activate specific channels in your body to help muscle strength, growth, and performance.
Boost in Cognitive Ability
The benefits of creatinine are not limited to athletic performance. In recent studies, creatine shows positive effects on brain function and neurological health. Even if most of the ATP is stored in the muscles, some are found in the brain. The brain also relies on ATP when it completes complex tasks. Besides that, creatine can increase dopamine levels and enhance mitochondrial function.
However, these effects are more profound for older adults. The creatine helps older individuals maintain or improve their memory recall. The improvement in brain function might also help mitigate or fully treat chronic neurological diseases.
Creatine is an excellent supplement that has multiple benefits, but at the end of the day, taking the supplement alone is not enough to achieve your goal. It must be paired with exercise and the proper diet with a side of hard work, discipline, and dedication. The purpose of supplements is to help you, but they don’t have the power to make you athletically better and healthier overnight.