What Is Creatine?
Creatine is nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in the body. Creatine supplements are mainly used function is to replenish energy. Creatine is made naturally from the breakdown of Glycine and Arginine however, creatine supplements provide the most positive benefits. (Body cant make enough creatine naturally from just whole foods) Creatine supplements are the MOST studied supplements, and are linked to almost more positive mention of muscle gain than PROTEIN!
ATP- Bodies Energy Production
As previously stated creatines main function deals with energy production, specifically with its relationship with ATP (this is why creatine supplements are usually taken before workouts). ATP is the energy system in the body that is used for short intense exercises, 0-10 seconds, for sprints and explosive lifts. The body does not like to keep too much ATP in hand because it increases acid levels in the muscle cells (lowers cell function) however, this is combated with Creatine Kinase which lowers the acid levels by removing Hydrogen molecules. Creatine Kinase also takes a by product of ATP known as ADP and uses that to make Creatine Phosphate which helps replenish ATP in the body. So, not only are you able to use ATP more effectively, you are also able to create more of it to be used for energy later… this process is known as the Phosphagen Energy System.
How Creatine Supplements Work
Creatine supplemented into your body combines with ATP to create Creatine Phosphate which results in more energy being available for use. As explained before, creatine is created naturally in the body (broken down Glycine and Arginine) but it is far more effective when taken as a supplement; Research has shown an increase of 26% power from supplemented creatine use! Creatine also increases water retention in the body, water binds to the creatine which then enters the muscles. (Now if this is a good effect or negative we will discuss a little later)
The Effects Of Creatine Supplements
Creatine supplements helps increase muscle mass, although be it INDIRECTLY. One way it does this is by increasing ATP output, (energy) the more ATP output the heavier and longer someone can lift for. Increase of weight and endurance results in higher stress put onto muscle which results in greater muscle protein synthesis taking place. The other more visibly seen effect for muscle mass gain is the water retention eluded to earlier. Water retention does not cause actually muscle mass increase but it sure does give the appearance of muscle mass gains. (More full looking muscles) Other notable positive effects of creatine are: Increase in replenishment of glycogen (needed for energy as well) reducing symptoms of depression, and decreasing fatigue!
How To take It, Negative Side Effects
The most positive studies done on creatine supplement use recommend taking 3-5 grams, and some companies suggest a loading phase (taking more creatine in the beginning weeks than lowering to 3-5 grams in the later weeks) however studies show no positive effect to a loading phase. There have been talks that creatine may damage kidney and the liver, however these claims have been debunked as well. The only negative effect we could think of is that darn water retention that keeps being mentioned. (Makes some people look “fluffy”) But if gaining mass is your goal, then this becomes one wicked positive effect so all the power to you!