Creatine is one of the most researched weight lifting and sport supplements on the market. While many remain skeptical about what creatine is or how it works, the science behind creatine is pretty simple.

Creatine is a molecule made up of amino-acids (proteins) and occurs naturally in the human body.  The liver and kidneys synthesize creatine and add phosphate to it in order to produce a rapid source of energy for the skeletal muscles and brain.  With the added phosphate, creatine becomes phosphocreatine and can supply the phosphate needed to “reload” adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s ultimate fuel.

Adenosine triphosphate is composed of three phosphate ions; when one of these is cleaved, the breaking of the chemical bond produces energy and an adenosine diphosphate (ADP) is left behind.  During intense bouts of activity, the muscles and brain use stored phosphocreatine to rapidly supply a phosphate group to ADP, so that it becomes an ATP again and can provide more energy.

While the body can produce its own creatine, production is dependent on whether or not all the amino-acid building blocks are available (l-arginine, glycine, and l-methionine). Creatine levels are directly related to dietary intake, and meat and dairy are the only natural sources of creatine in its complete form.  Thus, vegetarians or people who eat little meat have low levels of stored creatine and less energy for intense activities.  In one study, vegetarians who supplemented their diets with creatine gained better memory.  A number of other studies have focused on supplemental creatine’s effect on strength training and intense sports.  By supplying the muscles with ample energy, creatine allows the muscles to work harder.  When the muscles work harder and have enough protein, they get bigger and stronger.

The lesson: More creatine means more energy for intense activities. Creatine’s not a steroid or a stimulant.  It’s basically a vehicle that delivers the phosphate needed to “reload” ATP.  To get more creatine in your diet, eat plenty of meat and dairy from grass-fed animals or use a creatine supplement like CBH Micronized Creatine.  The micronized stuff mixes easily in water, but non-micronized is fine for adding to smoothies.

References: Effect of Supplemental Creatine on Vegetarians, The Effects of Creatine Supplementation for Muscles Gains

Originally posted 2013-03-09 00:35:00.

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