The Truth and Mechanism Behind Creatine

by Erik Tremblay

Creatine is and has been a widely talked about and consumed supplement compound for decades. However, many people do not still fully understand what creatine is and the science behind it that causes it to work so effectively in building muscle and increasing strength. The truth is, is that for anyone who consistently trains at a physically exhausting level should 100% be supplementing with creatine for the reasons discussed in this post. However, it is important to also understand the type of creatine you are supplementing with and at what doses, when. Get your full run-down on creatine and be on your way to getting the most out of your workouts and supplement regiment.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring nitrogenous acid that is synthesized mainly in the liver and kidneys, but is also found in protein-rich food sources such as red-meats and fish (so vegetarian and vegan athletes it is especially important to supplement with, as you are not receiving any in your diet). However, even creatine consumed through our diet in these meat sources tend to be of minimal amounts and it is still important to supplement regularly (for example, 1 pound of raw red-meat tends to yield only about a gram of creatine). Creatine is important because it is stored in skeletal muscle tissue and is directly responsible for facilitating the recycling of ATP (energy source for all cells) majorly in muscle tissue and the brain as these organs tend to have the highest energy demands.

How Does Creatine Work-The Phosphocreatine System

Understanding that creatine is stored in skeletal musle tissue and that it is responsible for the recycling of ATP is critical in understanding how it will directly benefit strength and muscle mass increases. The process that leads to the recycling and production of useable ATP that involves creatine is known as the phosphocreatine system.

Absorption

When you supplement with creatine, you orally ingest it where it then travels through your digestive system and is absorbed through your intestines and travels through your circulatory system. It is then that the tissues with the high energy demands we discussed (muscle and brain) take in the compound through an active transport system. Active transport is the movement of molecules, in this case creatine, across a cell membrane to an area of higher concentration. Because the concentration of creatine is higher in the muscle and brain cells already but they still want to absorb more due to their high energy demands, active transport is needed, which requires some energy. However, this is a benefit for us as it allows us to absorb most of the creatine we ingest until carry capacity of our cells is reached if large doses are consumed.

Phosphocreatine System

When the body is undergoing periods of high energy demands, such as intense workouts, the phosphagen system, also known as the ATP/PCr system, is kicked into gear which is what rapidly resynthesizes ATP (adenosine triphosphate) from ADP (adenosine diphosphate) using phosphocreatine (PCr) due to the actions of the enzyme creatine kinase. When the body uses ATP for energy, it breaks one of the phosphate linkage groups (it has three which is why it is called TRIphosphate)which releases usable energy and turns the ATP molecule into an ADP molecule (The DP standing for DIphosphate because of the loss of the one phosphate group whose linkage was broken to release energy). This ADP molecule cannot be used for energy as the ATP enzymes in our body can break-it down to generate energy, so the phosphocreatine system regenerates an ATP molecule from that ADP molecule by adding a phosphate group back onto that molecule. This is where the creatine supplementation becomes important because in order for that to happen, your body needs a surplus of an available compound that can donate a phosphate group.The creatine kinase enzyme transforms the creatine you ingested and which was taken in by the cell into phosphorcreatine, which is what is able to donate it’s phosphate group to the ADP molecule to regenerate ATP and be used as energy for the muscle cells, allowing for an increase in strength due to this available energy.

What is Creatinine Though and What Are The Possible Health Effects

Once phosphocreatine has experienced a certain number of de/re phosphorylation cycles, it is broken down into creatinine. This creatinine travels in your blood where it is filtered out by your kidneys and excreted. Having too high of creatinine levels can result from overtraining, poor renel health, or over supplementation of creatine which is why it is important to monitor your training and intake. Many studies over time has shown that prolonged oral intake of creatine does not lead to any negative health effects if taken in the right doses[1][2][3].

What Doses and What Types ?

Doses of creatine vary by the type you’re taking due to the ability of some to be more bioavailable than others. A good standard rule though however is to take around 5 grams a day, preferably half before a workout and half after. The following creatines we use include:

Creatine Monohydrate- Most popular and studied form of creatine that has been used for decades by athletes. It has repeatedly been seen to increase athletic performance and is a must for all athletes looking for strength increases. It is not as easily soluble in water as the other forms however, which lags absorption rates and which is why it is important to take other forms as well. Monohydrate is most efficient post workout due to this factor. This is our PURPLE GAINS stack of N.O. SPOT and BLACK ICE is so effective as it delievers faster acting forms of creatine as well.

Creatine HCl- A relatively more new form of creatine that has been shown to produce the same amounts of strength increases with a smaller dose than monohydrate due to its solubility. Creatine is a weak base so when it’s ingested in the form of monohydrate, not all is effective which is why it requires a bigger dose. Since it is much more soluble than monohydrate (as its binded to HCL) it functions as a great compound pre- workout.

Creatine AKG- delievers the benefits of the normal creatine molecule, however this form is combined with AKG to receive the added benefits of the compound. It is combined with creatine HCl to help aid absoroption in our BLACK ICE product.

Tri-Creatine Malate- similar to AKG in that it is a compound that contains the conventional creatine molecule and provides the benefits of creatine with three molecules binded to one molecule of malic acid for the additional benefits of the malic acid. It is also combined with creatine HCl in BLACK ICE to aid absorption.

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