How Does Creatine Work?

That question was posed to me this morning at work this morning, and I thought the short answer would make a good post here at The Men's Health Blog -- especially since I haven't posted in awhile.

The whole process comes down to ATP.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a multifunctional nucleotide, and the initial fuel for muscle contractions. For short-duration explosive sports, such as sprinting, weight lifting and other anaerobic exercises, ATP is the energy system used. Creatine increases energy of muscles by increasing the amount of ATP.

More specifically, ATP provides energy by releasing a phospate molecule, at which point it becomes ADP (adenosine diphosphate). The energy produced during this process lasts only seconds. Once the energy is used, more ATP must be produced. This is where creatine phosphate, or also called phosphocreatine (the form that creatine is stored in the body), comes into play. It gives its phosphate to the ADP making another ATP. This ATP again, is used as energy for a few seconds and then the process repeats. This process is called ATP regeneration.

Stay with me now.

ATP regeneration keeps your body from relying on glycolysis, which is a process where lactic acid is built up during your workout. Reduced lactic acid allows you to workout longer and harder, thus maximizing every muscle’s workout, and allows you to gain more muscle, strength and size. Your ability to generate ATP depends on your supply of creatine.

So basically, the more creatine you have, the more ATP you'll be able to produce. You will eventually lose energy molecules, however, so no matter how much creatine you have in your body it won't do any good without the presence of the energy molecules. And the production of these energy molecules depends heavily on ribose.

Ribose is another post in and of itself.

Whether or not creatine is right for you, is up to you. No studies that I know have shown creatine to have any serious adverse side effects. As expected, however, some studies have shown creatine to cause gas, bloating, and diarreah when used in excess.

If done properly, creatine can provide more energy, endurance, strength, and weight gain.

But do your homework.

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