Often people unfamiliar with creatine look at it as a mysterious white powder that magically gives people muscle. It must be a steroid right? Not at All! In fact, it is a common everyday substance that is found naturally in many different animal-based foods like red meat and is naturally synthesized in the human body. Creatine is key in providing your body with energy during a workout and recovery after a workout. Even though most bodybuilders supplement creatine, your body can naturally synthesize (manufacture) creatine from amino acids such as methionine, arginine, and glycine.
It is important to understand that amino acids are basically the building blocks of protein. When you eat a protein source it is made up of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. Your body then breaks down this protein into its basic amino acids. These amino acids are then used by your body to build and repair muscle or they can be used for energy. There are three different categories of amino acids. There are essential, nonessential, and semi-essential. Essential amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body and therefore must be obtained from eating food. Nonessential amino acids can be manufactured in the body and do not have to be obtained by food. Finally, there are the semi-essential amino acids which are made in the body but are not manufactured at a rate high enough to support growth, so they too must be obtained from eating food.
All that to say if you lack the necessary essential and semi-essential amino acids it can stunt muscle building and muscle repair in the body. So, what does all this amino acid information have to do with creatine? Well, in order for your body to manufacture creatine it must have enough methionine (Essential amino acid), arginine (semi-essential amino acid), and glycine (nonessential amino acid). Even with proper amounts of amino acids only so much creatine can be made in the body.
Creatine’s basic purpose in the body is to help form cellular energy that can then be used by the muscles. In strength and power training the basic energy form used by the body is the ATP-PC system. ATP is “Adenosine Triphosphate” which is made up of one adenosine and three phosphates. Energy is produced and can be used by the muscles when one phosphate splits away from the others. When the phosphate splits away, the ATP molecule then turns into ADP (Adenosine diphosphate…which is one adenosine and two phosphates) plus 7.3kcals of energy has now been produced for muscle contractions. The ADP molecule is now depleted and cannot produce anymore energy for muscular contractions. For the ADP molecule to give off more energy it needs one more phosphate to be bonded to it to turn it back into the energy rich ATP molecule. As more and more of the ATP molecules energies are used up and turned to ADP molecules during your workout, your body will start to feel fatigued and lose its power and strength to be able to contract the muscles at the same rate it did at the beginning.
This is why CREATINE is important! It is the transporter of phosphate. Creatine will connect to a phosphate and bring the phosphate to a depleted ADP molecule and then connect that phosphate to the ADP molecule, which in doing so turns it back into the energy rich ATP molecule. This then provides the body with more muscular energy for working out. This function is why creatine is so important to strength athletes and bodybuilders. If ATP gets depleted, then the athlete will lack the energy to be able to lift heavy or perform the required number of reps. This then limits the amount of muscle strain and time under tension which are key aspects during a workout for muscle growth.
This is where creatine supplementation comes in. By taking the recommended dose of 5g of creatine each day you will be increasing the muscle creatine levels in the body. This added creatine gives you more energy during the workout which will allow you to lift more weight and fatigue the muscle better which will then help you build more muscle. It also allows you to recover faster from a workout since your ADP molecules are quickly being turned back into energy rich ATP moles. All that to say from my own experience when I take creatine I feel a lot better and less fatigued during my workouts. I have also seen some substantial muscle gain from taking creatine due to the fact it allows me to lift heavier without becoming as fatigued. It is not uncommon, when someone just starts taking creatine for them to see a 4-6lbs increase in weight in a very short amount of time. Creatine does cause the body to draw water into the muscles and increases muscle protein synthesis. These two factors are what typically cause this rapid weight gain. Many people do not like the fact that creatine causes this water retention in the muscles because it can hide a bit of muscle definition. However, this added water is actually good for the body and muscles. If your muscles are well hydrated you will feel better throughout the day and during workouts. For all the reasons listed above creatine would be my go to supplement if I could only take one bodybuilding supplement the rest of my life!
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This article was written by:
NASM Certified Personal Fitness Trainer
Josiah Brannon is an National Academy of Sports Medicine
(NASM) Certified Personal Trainer with experience in helping clients improve their Sports Performance, Everyday Functional Fitness, and Bodybuilding. He is not only passionate about Fitness, but he promotes living life to the fullest mentally, physically, and spiritually. To hire Josiah Brannon as a Personal Fitness Trainer click here!