Hey Life Warriors!
Today we want to talk about an extremely useful, versatile, safe and cheap supplement, widely used in the world of sports, but largely unknown to the general public: creatine. While supplementing with creatine is a common practice in the world of sports, awareness of its benefits among general public is reduced. In this article we will explain how creatine is produced and used in your body, and why almost everyone should be supplementing with creatine.
What is creatine?
Creatine is an organic compound that occurs naturally in the human body from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. The majority of creatine is found in skeletal muscles and is used as a source of energy during high-intensity exercise.
How does creatine supplementation work?
We are going to try to explain it in a simple way without getting too crazy about chemistry. Our body obtains the energy it needs to carry out any activity from a compound called Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP), which, as its name suggests, has three “phosphates” (stay with that name). The energy comes from “breaking” one of the three bonds of adenosine with phosphates, so by removing one, I will be left with two phosphates: adenosine di-phosphate (ADP). Creatine is stored in the muscles in the form of creatine phosphate, and as you may have guessed, that creatine phosphate can “donate” to ADP the phosphate it is missing to convert back to ATP and be able to produce energy for us again. Supplementing with creatine increases the amount of creatine phosphate available, thus giving us extra energy. The simplified process would be something like this:
One moment; If at the beginning we said that the body produces creatine naturally, why should we supplement? Good question. To make a simple analogy: creatine would be like the battery of your mobile. If you do normal use, the battery will last you more or less a day, but if you do more intensive use, you will need a portable charger to recharge during the day. Creatine is like that portable charger that will give you extra energy, which will come in handy if you make physical and/or mental efforts in your daily life.
Benefits of creatine supplementation
Increased muscle strength and power
Creatine supplementation has been extensively studied and has been shown to increase muscle strength and power. In a study conducted at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, participants taking creatine for 12 weeks increased their maximum strength by 20% compared to the group taking a placebo.
Improved sports performance
Creatine supplementation has also been shown to improve athletic performance in high-intensity sports such as weight lifting, sprinting, and jumping. In a study published in the Journal of applied Physiology , participants taking creatine for six weeks improved their ability to perform repeated sprints by 15%.
Increased muscle mass
Creatine can also help increase muscle mass. In a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise , participants taking creatine for eight weeks increased their muscle mass by 2.4% compared to the group taking a placebo.
Improved muscle recovery
Creatine supplementation may also help improve muscle recovery after intense exercise. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , participants who took creatine for five days after intense exercise experienced a faster recovery of muscle strength compared to the group that took a placebo.
Improved brain function
Creatine may also have benefits for brain function. In a study published in the journal Neuroscience , participants who took creatine for six weeks experienced improvement in tasks involving memory and attention.
General health benefits
In addition to its sports performance benefits, creatine supplementation may also have general health benefits. Creatine has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
How to take creatine?
The most common way to take creatine is in the form of a powdered supplement, which can be mixed with water or another beverage. The recommended dose varies depending on the type of creatine and the person taking it, but a dose of about 3-5 grams per day is generally recommended.
It is important to note that creatine is not suitable for everyone, especially those with kidney or liver problems. It is always advisable to speak with a health professional before starting to take creatine.
Creatine supplementation can have numerous benefits for sports performance, muscle mass and general health, but beware, creatine is not a magic potion , it will simply allow you to push yourself harder and get more out of your own effort.
“Effects of creatine supplementation on muscle strength and power: A systematic review and meta-analysis” (Efectos de la suplementación con creatina en la fuerza y potencia muscular: Una revisión sistemática y meta-análisis)
“Creatine supplementation enhances isometric strength and body composition improvements following strength exercise training in older adults” (La suplementación con creatina mejora la fuerza isométrica y las mejoras en la composición corporal después del entrenamiento con ejercicios de fuerza en adultos mayores)
“Creatine supplementation improves cognitive function in healthy individuals and those with mild cognitive impairment: A systematic review” (La suplementación con creatina mejora la función cognitiva en individuos sanos y aquellos con deterioro cognitivo leve: Una revisión sistemática)
“Effects of creatine supplementation on renal function: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial” (Efectos de la suplementación con creatina en la función renal: Un ensayo clínico aleatorizado, doble ciego y controlado con placebo)