Miracle Muscles?

The Science of Creatine

Giuliana Carmosino

If you are familiar with the gym setting, then you are already familiar with all of the talk around supplements. Supplements to recover quicker, to get your greens in, to help you workout harder and better, and to help your muscles. There are thousands of supplements that claim to help your body in a variety of ways. One very popular supplement that is talked about is Creatine, also known as Creatine monohydrate. Creatine is rumored to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help muscles to recover more quickly during exercise. This muscular boost may help athletes achieve bursts of speed and energy, especially during short bursts of high-intensity activities such as weight lifting or sprinting. Let’s take a look at what Creatine truly does for your body and the pros and cons of taking this supplement. 

The Science

Creatine is an amino acid substance that is naturally produced and found throughout the body. It helps your muscles produce energy while heavy lifting or during high intensity training. Chemically speaking, Creatine has a lot in common with amino acids. Your body can produce it from the amino acids, glycine and arginine. There are several factors that can impact your body’s Creatine production. Including, meat intake, the amount that you exercise, the muscle mass and levels of hormones such as testosterone and IGF-1. About 95% of your body’s Creatine is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. The other 5% is found in your brain, kidneys and liver. When you take supplements you are increasing your stores of phosphocreatine. This is a form of stored energy in the cells, as it helps your body to produce more of a high-energy molecule called ATP. ATP is often known as one’s body’s energy currency. When you have more ATP your body can perform better during exercise. Creatine also alters several cellular processes that lead to increased muscle mass, strength, and recovery. 

How Does it Work 

Creatine can improve health and athletic performance in several different ways. In high-intensity exercise, Creatine has the main goal to increase the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles. The additional stores can then be used to produce more ATP, which is the key energy source for heavy lifting as well as high-intensity exercise. Creatine also can help gain muscle in the following ways..

  • Boosted workload 
  • Improved cell signaling 
  • Raised anabolic hormones
  • Reduced protein breakdown
  • Lower myostatin levels 

Creatine supplements have also been known to increase phosphocreatine stores in your brain, which may improve brain health and prevent neurological disease. Creatine is also effective for both short and long term muscle growth. It assists many different people, including older adults and athletes. A large review of the most popular supplements selected Creatine as the single most beneficial supplement for adding muscle mass. Creatine can be taken in a couple different forms, such as beverages or in other types of products such as energy bars, capsules, tablets, or in powder form. One negative effect of Creatine or any supplement, is that it may make kidney disease worse, if you do have kidney disease, as the combination of Creatine supplement could damage your kidneys.  

Creatine is a great supplement that by intaking can cause a gain in muscle mass and an increase in athletic ability. Creatine is good for all types of people, whether you are an everyday gym-goer, or an olympic athlete. This supplement will help to maintain strength and training performance while increasing muscle mass during intense training. Creatine is one of the best supplements for improving strength and performance during workouts.