What does creatine do in the body?
Creatine has several functions in the human body, specifically related to muscle strength and energy supply:
Increase in ATP production: Creatine is converted in the body to phosphocreatine, which serves as a storehouse for high-energy phosphate groups. During brief, intense physical activity, such as weightlifting or sprinting, phosphocreatine helps restore adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which serves as the main energy source for muscle contractions. This can increase muscle strength and power during high-intensity exercise.
Increasing muscle cell volume: Creatine can draw water molecules into muscle cells, resulting in an increase in their volume. This effect is sometimes referred to as "cell volumization" and can contribute to the appearance of increased muscle mass.
Supporting Protein Synthesis: There is evidence that creatine can support protein synthesis, which can lead to an increase in muscle mass. It does this by increasing the activity of certain signaling pathways in the body involved in muscle protein synthesis.
Reducing Muscle Fatigue: By improving the supply of energy to muscles, creatine can help reduce muscle fatigue. This can make it possible to train for longer periods of time or with greater intensity.
Supporting Brain Function: There is also some evidence that creatine may have positive effects on brain function. The brain relies on ATP for energy, similar to muscle, and creatine can help increase ATP availability in the brain. This could contribute to improved cognitive functions such as memory and concentration.
Uses of creatine in strength training:
Increase in energy: As already mentioned, creatine plays an important role in the regeneration of ATP, the main fuel for muscle contractions. By increasing ATP availability, creatine can help strength athletes have more energy during exercise.
Increase in muscle mass: Creatine increases the volume of muscle cells through cell volumization. This draws water into the muscle cells and, together with increased protein synthesis, can lead to an increase in muscle mass.
Increase Maximum Power: Creatine has been shown to improve an athlete's ability to lift heavy weights. It's especially effective on exercises that require brief, explosive force, such as squats or bench presses.
Improving Recovery: Creatine can help improve recovery times after exercise. This is because it aids in the regeneration of ATP, thus helping to reduce fatigue and muscle soreness.
Increase Training Capacity: By increasing energy and reducing fatigue, creatine allows athletes to train harder and longer. This can lead to better training adaptations and greater gains in strength and muscle mass.
Creatine for Endurance Athletes: Improving Performance and Recovery
While creatine is traditionally associated with strength and high-performance sports, it may also be beneficial for endurance athletes, including long-distance runners, cyclists, and swimmers. The implications for endurance sports are less clear than for strength and sprint performance, but there are still some benefits that endurance athletes might consider.
Improving Anaerobic Performance : While most endurance performance relies on aerobic energy production, there are moments when anaerobic energy sources are important, such as climbing a hill or sprinting to the finish of a race. Creatine can improve anaerobic performance, helping endurance athletes perform better at those critical moments.
Increasing Muscle Strength and Explosive Power
: Creatine can improve strength and explosiveness, which can help endurance athletes sprint faster or kick/punch more powerfully. This can be particularly useful in situations where rapid acceleration is required.
: Creatine can promote the regeneration of ATP, thus helping to reduce recovery times after exercise. This can be especially important for endurance athletes who train frequently on consecutive days or multiple times a day.
dosage and intake
The dosage of creatine for endurance athletes is similar to that for strength athletes. A common method involves a loading phase of about 20g of creatine per day for 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5g per day. It's important to take creatine with adequate water to aid in absorption.
possible side effects
Despite the many benefits, it's also important to be aware of possible side effects. This includes:
Water Retention : Creatine can cause water weight gain, which in some cases may be undesirable.
Gastrointestinal Disorders : In some cases, people taking creatine may experience gastrointestinal disorders such as nausea or diarrhea.
It is crucial to take creatine with enough fluids and our sports drinks are ideal for this as they are mixed with water. It is also advisable to adjust the intake of creatine on training days to times around the training.