Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most popular supplements used by people looking to build lean muscle mass, maximize performance and increase strength. According to survey data, over 40% of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes reported that they have used creatine.
Creatine is similar to protein in that it is a nitrogen-containing compound, but is not a true protein. In the nutritional biochemistry world it is known as a “non-protein” nitrogen. It can be obtained in the food we eat (typically meat and fish) or formed endogenously (in the body) from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine.
Creatine is a key player in the phosphagen energy system, the primary source of ATP (the main energy substrate in our body) during short-term, high intensity activities. Creatine exists as both free form creatine and phosphocreatine in the body. Phosphocreatine (PC) functions as a “storehouse for high energy phosphate”2.
PC functions to replenish ATP in muscles that are rapidly contracting by transferring a phosphate group to the ADP that was formed from the hydrolysis of ATP for energy in the contracting muscle. When our muscles run out of creatine, our short-term, high intensity energy system shuts down and our muscles are no longer able to produce force.
The use of creatine as an ergogenic aid is based upon the theory that one can increase the saturation of creatine in the muscle through supplementation. This is an important point which we will discuss in a section below.
Theoretically, increased creatine in the muscle will increase performance in short, high intensity exercise by increasing the capacity of our phosphagen system.
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