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We use creatine phosphate as an energy storage to resupply ADP with a phosphate group as our muscle cells only contain about 2-5 mM ATP. But why doesn't the muscle cells just keep 20-30 mM ATP instead of 20-30 mM creatine phosphate?
Because all available ATP will likely be quickly spent by various cellular machinery. If there was 20-30mM of ATP, what would stop muscle from contraction and how could you keep ATP level constant at rest, be ready for rapid movement? By blocking all myosin? This creates enormous regulatory problems for the cell.
Phosphocreatine buffers energy for a period of time when it will be actually needed. Having buffer allows for more robust control of energy spending, for example via regulation creatine kinases and other enzymes. Just by activating single enzyme you then start rapid conversion of ADT into ATP via phosphocreatine.
Creatine 101: How and Why to Add It to Your Supp Stack
Creatine is one of the, if not the most, popular sports supplements in the world for mass gain. Surveys performed on creatine use in athletes indicate that more than 40% of athletes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association use it, and that athletes from about 20 different NCAA sports reportedly use it.
Its use in power-sport athletes may be even more prevalent, with up to about 75% of powerlifters, boxers, weightlifters, and track and field athletes reportedly using the supplement. And a survey of gym/health club members conducted in 2000 reported that about 60% of members are creatine users.
But why is it so popular among athletes and gym-goers? Quite simply because it works, and it works well. Literally hundreds of studies have been done on creatine showing its effectiveness for increasing muscle strength, muscle power, muscle size, overall athletic performance, and even enhancing certain areas of health.
Why use creatine phosphate? - Biology
Using Creatine might not be something you’ve ever considered but if want to reach your goals, then this post is for you.
When you are taking the time to eat right and exercise, you want to get the best performance out of your body: the most reps, the highest jumps, the hardest punches, etc.. Most of what determines this level of performance is how you are fueling your body.
You want to make sure you are eating enough food (AKA: no going below 1200 calories a day), the right kinds of food so you have a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, and ensure you are allowing your body to recover appropriately by getting enough BCAAs during your workout and protein after your workout.
So, where does something like creatine fit into all of this? I’m glad you asked. Let’s start by discussing the science of creatine.
Creatine and Your Body
As a pharmacist, I am all too familiar with creatine. Creatine is a substance that primarily comes from meat and is made up of L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine amino acids. Once these amino acids are consumed, the body creates creatine which is then stored in the muscles as creatine phosphate.
Because if you throw it all the way back to your high school biology class you may remember adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is the energy compound that your cells use to power your body. Creatine phosphate is used to replenish your ATP stores, thus more ATP can lead to longer periods of peak performance.
In my experience and education as a pharmacist, I am typically more concerned with what happens after this breakdown when creatine phosphate becomes a substance known as creatinine. We measure the levels of creatinine in the blood to calculate an estimate of how well the kidneys are working. This is just one slight problem with our calculation: those with more muscle have higher creatine levels, thus more breakdown into creatinine making it an inaccurate calculation for renal function. The point? Creatine is directly related to muscle mass and can increase your body’s ability to make energy.
Creatine and Your Performance
No matter if you have a goal to lose weight or increase your muscle mass. Creatine can likely help you reach those goals by providing you with more energy during your workouts. This allows you to work your muscles harder for longer periods of time, thus giving you greater results. It is important to know that this increase in duration or number of reps you complete when lifting may not seem like much. Often this comes in the form of an extra minute of sprinting or lifting an extra rep or two at a heavier weight. However, over time these small increases can increase your rate of improvement and your results.
Creatine and the Research
Supplements are vastly understudied in the area of sports performance and research, but creatine as a supplement actually has more studies than nearly any of the other vitamins and supplements on the market, especially when it comes to its use in improving performance. Since creatine became popular in the 1990s, there have been over 1,000 studies conducted as to its efficacy and use, and even more servings of creatine have been ingested because of it.
Many of the early studies looked at using creatine to improve athletic performance using short term supplementation over a five to seven-day period. It was found to be safe and effective in the short term so researchers expanded to look at longer periods of time. One recent study compared the different studies done on soccer players over the years and found that physical performance was improved with taking creatine up to fourteen days. In 2017, the International Society of Sports Nutrition conducted a full review of the studies available and released a position statement concluding that creatine was the safest and effective nutritional supplement to enhance physical performance. Additionally, after review of those taking creatine for years, it was found that no serious or significant adverse events occurred. Any weight gain associated with creatine use is minor and temporary, likely attributed to creatine increases the amount of water stored within the muscle cells and can be beneficial to overall health.
Creatine and You
If you have been looking for a way to maximize your performance, creatine is a good supplement for you. While it can be consumed in the diet by eating meat products or other foods high in L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine, research shows that additional supplementation is convenient, safe and effective in improving your performance.
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In the kidneys, the enzyme AGAT catalyzes the conversion of two amino acids — arginine and glycine — into guanidinoacetate (also called glycocyamine or GAA), which is then transported in the blood to the liver. A methyl group is added to GAA from the amino acid methionine by the enzyme GAMT, forming non-phosphorylated creatine. This is then released into the blood by the liver where it travels mainly to the muscle cells (95% of the body's creatine is in muscles), and to a lesser extent the brain, heart, and pancreas. Once inside the cells it is transformed into phosphocreatine by the enzyme complex creatine kinase.
Phosphocreatine is able to donate its phosphate group to convert adenosine diphosphate (ADP) into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This process is an important component of all vertebrates' bioenergetic systems. For instance, while the human body only produces 250 g of ATP daily, it recycles its entire body weight in ATP each day through creatine phosphate.
Phosphocreatine can be broken down into creatinine, which is then excreted in the urine. A 70 kg man contains around 120 g of creatine, with 40% being the unphosphorylated form and 60% as creatine phosphate. Of that amount, 1–2% is broken down and excreted each day as creatinine.
Phosphocreatine is used intravenously in hospitals in some parts of the world for cardiovascular problems under the name Neoton, and also used by some professional athletes, as it is not a controlled substance.
Phosphocreatine can anaerobically donate a phosphate group to ADP to form ATP during the first five to eight seconds of a maximal muscular effort. [ citation needed ] Conversely, excess ATP can be used during a period of low effort to convert creatine back to phosphocreatine.
The reversible phosphorylation of creatine (i.e., both the forward and backward reaction) is catalyzed by several creatine kinases. The presence of creatine kinase (CK-MB, creatine kinase myocardial band) in blood plasma is indicative of tissue damage and is used in the diagnosis of myocardial infarction. 
The cell's ability to generate phosphocreatine from excess ATP during rest, as well as its use of phosphocreatine for quick regeneration of ATP during intense activity, provides a spatial and temporal buffer of ATP concentration. In other words, phosphocreatine acts as high-energy reserve in a coupled reaction the energy given off from donating the phosphate group is used to regenerate the other compound - in this case, ATP. Phosphocreatine plays a particularly important role in tissues that have high, fluctuating energy demands such as muscle and brain.
The discovery of phosphocreatine   was reported by Grace and Philip Eggleton of the University of Cambridge  and separately by Cyrus Fiske and Yellapragada Subbarow of the Harvard Medical School  in 1927. A few years later David Nachmansohn, working under Meyerhof at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Dahlem, Berlin, contributed to the understanding of the phosphocreatine's role in the cell. 
The Benefits of Creatine – Strength, Power and Muscle Growth
Supplementing creatine helps you make more ATP before stores run so low that you can’t maintain high-intensity work any longer.
And that’s an important benefit for anyone wanting to gain that extra edge.
Creatine and sports performance – strength and power
As one of the most researched supplements in the world, creatine has been shown to boost sports performance in a number of studies.
For example, a review in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry found that creatine was ‘generally effective’. The paper reported that when Cr was used, 70% of athletes improved performance… and 30% didn’t.
And another review suggested that creatine supplementation of 20 g each day (short-term) or 5 g per day (long-term) led to improvements in strength, power, sprint performance and maximal effort muscle contractions.
Muscle mass gains with creatine supplementation
There aren’t actually many supplements that help you build muscle. Testosterone boosters offer a powerful stimulus for anabolic hormone production and therefore top our list of muscle building supplements.
But other than that, supplements such as BCAAs and HMB are more or less useless.
Because of its molecular structure, creatine draws water into muscle cells, helping to increase them in size and volume. It might also trigger growth hormones too that also help to make muscle grow in size.
In other words, creatine can help you get jacked.
One study found that creatine was an effective muscle builder in those that were responders to the supplement.
However, not all studies have found that creatine builds or even preserves muscle mass. A paper published in Sports Medicine found no difference when Cr was supplemented in a group of healthy men.
Around 70% of bros will respond to creatine. 30% will be left disappointed. If the supplement works it’ll improve your strength, power output, muscle mass and overall athleticism. But some studies have found no benefits.
Should I use creatine supplements?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that helps supply energy to cells throughout the body, particularly muscle cells.
It occurs naturally in red meat and fish, it is made by the body, and it can also be obtained from supplements.
Supplements are used by athletes to improve their performance, by older adults to increase muscle mass, and to treat problems that result when a body cannot metabolize creatine fully.
Some evidence suggests that it might prevent skin aging, treat muscle diseases, help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to exercise, enhance cognitive ability, and more. Additional evidence is needed to confirm these uses.
This article will look at the uses of creatine, how it works, and how safe and effective it is.
Share on Pinterest Creatine is a common ingredient muscle-building supplements and sports drinks.
Creatine is formed of three amino acids: L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. It makes up about 1 percent of the total volume of human blood.
Around 95 percent of creatine in the human body is stored in skeletal muscle, and 5 percent is in the brain.
Between 1.5 and 2 percent of the body’s creatine store is converted for use each day by the liver, the kidneys, and the pancreas.
It is transported through the blood and used by parts of the body that have high energy demands, such as skeletal muscle and the brain.
Different forms of creatine are used in supplements, including creatine monohydrate and creatine nitrate.
No creatine supplement has yet been approved for use by the United States (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are dangers associated with use of unrestricted supplements.
A person needs between 1 and 3 grams (g) of creatine a day. Around half of this comes from the diet, and the rest is synthesized by the body. Food sources include red meat and fish. One pound of raw beef or salmon provides 1 to 2 grams (g) of creatine.
Creatine can supply energy to parts of the body where it is needed. Athletes use supplements to increase energy production, improve athletic performance, and to allow them to train harder.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), larger athletes who train intensely “may need to consume between 5 and 10 g of creatine a day” to maintain their stores.
People who cannot synthesize creatine because of a health condition may need to take 10 to 30 g a day to avoid health problems.
Creatine is one of the most popular supplements in the U.S., especially among men who participate in ice hockey, football, baseball, lacrosse, and wrestling.
It is also the most common supplement found in sports nutrition supplements, including sports drinks.
There are claims for a number of uses, some of which are supported by research evidence.
Improving athletic performance
Athletes commonly use creatine supplements, because there is some evidence that they are effective in high-intensity training.
The idea is that creatine allows the body to produce more energy. With more energy, athletes can work harder and achieve more.
For some participants in some kinds of exercise, boosting the body’s creatine pool appears to enhance performance.
In 2003, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine concluded that creatine “may improve performance involving short periods of extremely powerful activity, especially during repeated bouts.”
The researchers added that not all studies had reported the same benefits.
In 2012, a review concluded that creatine:
- boosts the effects of resistance training on strength and body mass
- increases the quality and benefits of high-intensity intermittent speed training
- improves endurance performance in aerobic exercise activities that last more than 150 seconds
- may improve strength, power, fat-free mass, daily living performance and neurological function
It seems to benefit athletes participating in anaerobic exercise, but not in aerobic activity.
It appears to be useful in short-duration, high-intensity, intermittent exercises, but not necessarily in other types of exercise.
However, a study published in 2017 found that creatine supplementation did not boost fitness or performance in 17 young female athletes who used it for 4 weeks.
Increased body mass
Increased creatine content in muscles has been associated with greater body mass.
However, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, creatine does not build muscle. The increase in body mass occurs because creatine causes the muscles to hold water.
One review, published in 2003, notes that “The gains in body weigh observed are likely due to water retention during supplementation.”
It is also possible that muscle mass builds as a result of working harder during exercise.
Repairing damage after injury
Research suggests that creatine supplements may help prevent muscle damage and enhance the recovery process after an athlete has experienced an injury.
Creatine may also have an antioxidant effect after an intense session of resistance training, and it may help reduce cramping. It may have a role in rehabilitation for brain and other injuries.
Creatine and deficiency syndromes
Creatine is a natural substance and essential for a range of body functions.
An average young male weighing 70 kilograms (kg) has a store, or pool, of creatine of around 120 to 140 g . The amount varies between individuals, and it depends partly on a person’s muscle mass and their muscle fiber type.
Creatine deficiency is linked to a wide range of conditions, including, but not limited to:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- congestive heart failure (CHF)
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- muscle atrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
Oral creatine supplements may relieve these conditions, but there is not yet enough evidence to prove that this is an effective treatment for most of them.
Supplements are also taken to increase creatine in the brain. This can help relieve seizures, symptoms of autism, and movement disorders.
Taking creatine supplements for up to 8 years has been shown to improve attention, language and academic performance in some children. However, it does not affect everyone in the same way.
While creatine occurs naturally in the body, creatine supplements are not a natural substance. Anyone considering using these or other supplements should do so only after researching the company that provides them.
Creatine and muscular dystrophy
Creatine may help improve the strength of people with muscular dystrophy.
A review of 14 studies, published in 2013, found that people with muscular dystrophy who took creatine experienced an increase in muscle strength of 8.5 percent compared with those who did not take the supplement.
“ Short- and medium-term creatine treatment improves muscle strength in people with muscular dystrophies and is well-tolerated.”
Dr. Rudolf Kley, of Ruhr University Bochum, Germany
Using creatine every day for 8 to 16 weeks may improve muscle strength and reduce fatigue in people with muscular dystrophy, but not all studies have produced the same results.
In mouse models of Parkinson’s disease, creatine was able to prevent the loss of cells that are typically affected by the condition.
An animal study involving a combined treatment of coenzyme Q(10) and creatine concluded that this might help treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
However, research published in JAMA, with over 1,700 human participants, noted that: “Treatment with creatine monohydrate for at least 5 years, compared with placebo did not improve clinical outcomes.”
Similarly, a systematic review published in Cochrane found that there was no strong evidence for the use of creatine in Parkinson’s.
In South Korea, 52 women with depression added a 5-gram creatine supplement to their daily antidepressant. They experienced improvements in their symptoms as early as 2 weeks, and the improvement continued up to weeks 4 and 8.
A small-scale study found that creatine appeared to help treat depression in 14 females with both depression and an addiction to methamphetamine.
The results suggested that: “Creatine treatment may be a promising therapeutic approach for females with depression and comorbid methamphetamine dependence.”
Further research is needed.
In 2003, researchers published evidence that creatine can boost mental performance.
After taking a 5-g supplement each day for 6 weeks, 45 participants scored better on working memory and intelligence tests, specifically tasks taken under time pressure, than other people who took a placebo.
A study published in 2007, concluded that “creatine supplementation aids cognition in the elderly.” Participants took a 5-g supplement four times a day for a week and then carried out some number and spatial tests. Those who took the supplement did better than those who took only a placebo.
At recommended doses, creatine is considered “likely safe” to consume.
In high doses, it is “possibly safe.” It is expected that it could affect the liver, kidneys, or heart, although these effects have not been proven.
Other possible effects include:
People with kidney disease are advised not to use creatine, and caution is recommended for those with diabetes and anyone taking blood sugar supplements.
The safety of creatine supplements has not been confirmed during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so women are advised to avoid it at this time.
Use of creatine can lead to weight gain. While this may be mostly due to water, it can have a negative impact on athletes aiming at particular weight categories. It may also affect performance in activities where the center of gravity is a factor.
In 2003, a review of 14 studies on creatine supplementation and exercise performance, published in Cochrane concluded that it:
“Appears to pose no serious health risks when taken at doses described in the literature and may enhance exercise performance in individuals that require maximal single effort and/or repetitive sprint bouts.”
In 2007, the ISSN described the use of creatine as, “safe, effective, and ethical.” They recommended it as a way for athletes to obtain extra creatine without increasing their intake of fat or protein.
Updating their statement in 2017, they conclude that creatine supplementation is acceptable within recommended doses, and for short-term use for competitive athletes who are eating a proper diet.
Overall, creatine, used appropriately, seems to be relatively safe.
However, one study, published in 2012, cautioned that the “safe and ethical” status of creatine supplements could change.
“The perception of safety cannot be guaranteed,” the authors add, “Especially when administered for long periods of time to different populations.”
Short-term use of creatine is considered safe and without significant adverse effects, although caution should be advised as the number of long-term studies is limited. The safety of creatine supplementation has not been studied in children and adolescents. Currently, the scientific literature supports creatine supplementation for increased performance in short-duration, maximal-intensity resistance training. Whether these effects of creatine supplementation lead to improved performance on the field of play remains unknown.
The authors report no potential conflicts of interest in the development and publication of this article.
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How Long Does it Take for the Creatine Phosphate System to Recover?
While the energy system is able to power dramatic exercise and energy expenditure it also can replenish incredibly fast so it can be good for short hard sprints, or immense power pushes and doing hard workouts without bonking.
For explosive type efforts such as throwing, hitting, jumping, and sprinting the system is amazingly helpful and can be rapidly replenished during recovery.
Whats pretty interesting is that it requires only about 30 seconds to replenish back to around 70% of the phosphagens and 3 to 5 minutes to replenish 100%
Creatine Benefits For Endurance Athletes
Not so fast, Kemosahbee! Creatine is not just for improving strength. It does many things in addition to being renowned for robust strength enhancement.
First of all, everything has a base in strength. Running, swimming, and especially obstacle course racing has a strength component. There are varying degrees of this truth, so let’s picture a few examples.
A runner must be strong enough to stand before they can be a good runner because they need to be able to support their body weight. That’s a “low” base.
Conversely, an NFL lineman needs to be able to bench press 315 pounds because the opponent is often 315+ pounds (and can bench press just as much themselves!). That’s a “high” base. Obviously, strength changes over time, and this affects endurance.
Another example. Most young men begin bench pressing in high school. To start off, it’s fairly difficult to press 95 pounds (a 25lb plate on each side) for 10 reps. But we keep training the bench press (some of us, each and every time we go to the gym!), and eventually, 95 pounds for 10 reps is too easy to even be considered a strength workout. In fact, many guys could do it for 50 or more reps – that’s endurance work!
The point for an endurance athlete is, simply, if you can get stronger, every other movement gets easier, and you can do it for longer and with greater ease.
This may all be a moot point, though. Creatine has direct implications for many components of endurance performance, such as oxygen consumption.
How Creatine Works
Creatine supplementation increases muscle creatine stores. Muscle creatine is able to bind to phosphagen and form creatine phosphate. If you know much about biochemistry and metabolism, you know that phosphates are pretty important for athletes!
Everyone should have at least a vague memory of ATP, which is adenosine triphosphate – the main source of cellular energy. It’s the main source due in no small part to having three phosphates (or more specifically, the bonds), as well as having those bonds be broken easily enough as well as being a stable molecule.
After 1 bond is broken to release energy, ATP becomes ADP (diphosphate), which can be used once again to become AMP (monophosphate). Creatine phosphate is able to store more available phosphate within the cell, and it can then donate those phosphates to ADP and AMP to help restore energy.
In practical terms, this means more energy for physical activity.
This helps all types of athletes. However, it is best known for helping strength athletes because they almost exclusively use only the available ATP in the cell, whereas endurance athletes need all 3 major energy systems to fuel their activity.
Therefore, endurance athletes are still benefitted when using creatine, it’s just not as noticeable since our needs are so diverse by comparison and creatine became popular for strength.
How Creatine can Benefit Endurance Athletes
Just because something is popular for 1 major reason, doesn’t mean there is nothing else to offer.
Using another high school analogy, the most popular girls and boys are usually the most attractive. Maybe they’re also really good athletes – that’s not inconceivable, happens all the time. Maybe they’re also really smart. Maybe they’re also very charitable or a skilled musician.
Another student might look at one of the popular kids and say, “wow, they’re sooo good looking! And fast, too!” They have no idea that person has more to offer.
This is a true story. I played basketball in high school. I was very familiar with how my teammates played - I knew them well within the context of playing basketball. A few years ago, one of them worked on a song with Kanye West. I had NO idea whatsoever that he made music – I didn’t even know, for a fact, that he even listened to music. He had a lot more to offer than what I knew of him on the court.
Creatine has more to offer as well. Let’s be willing to view it outside its traditional context.
First up is one of the hallmark attributes of endurance, ventilatory threshold. In a study comparing creatine vs. placebo during standardized training vs. a non-training control, placebo improved ventilatory threshold (although not reaching statistical significance), and creatine caused an improvment to an even greater magnitude.
What about straight up endurance?
In trained athletes, creatine supplementation has been observed to improve cycling race times by 4 minutes. This is accompanied by more efficient exercise metabolism, such as maintaining power output at a lower percentage of maximum heart rate.
Creatine also improves anaerobic abilities, such as sprinting.
How Much Creatine Do I Need?
The standard dose is 5 grams per day. However, beneficial effects have been observed with as little as 2.5g per day.
5 grams is often associated with body weight gain as body water. Importantly, this is NOT body fat. Please do not confuse this FACT.
While water, even “extra” water, can be beneficial for endurance athletes, we understand this may not always be desirable. Supplementing with
3 grams per day can provide most of the benefits of creatine while also limiting weight gained.
There are some advantages to better hydration, however. Typically, an athlete can lose up to 2% of body weight during an event due to fluid loss. Creatine may increase body weight (as water) by approximately 5%. Now, instead of losing just 2%, an athlete may be able to lose 7% before performance is negatively affected and simultaneously decreasing complexities of fluid intake during an event.
Should I Cycle Creatine?
Once upon a time, it was believed that creatine needed to be cycled, as it was feared that creatine supplementation would shut down endogenous creatine production.
This has since been found not to be the case. Hence, creatine does not need to be cycled.
Should I Load Creatine? How Should I Take Creatine?
Creatine also does not need to be loaded. However it can start working faster if it is loaded. There are many loading protocols that are effective.
The standard practice of taking 5g per day every day will maximize muscle creatine after
4 weeks. Since creatine doesn’t need to be cycled, this is typically sufficient.
To load creatine faster, you simply take more to start off before beginning a maintenance schedule.
One tried-and-true method is to take 20g per day for 4 days, then the maintenance dose of 3-5g thereafter. Another is to take 10g per day for 2 weeks followed by the maintenance schedule.
Finally, it is possible to load creatine in a single day by taking advantage of kinetics. Instead of taking large quantities, take 1g of creatine every hour for 20 hours, followed by the maintenance dose.
What is the Best Kind of Creatine?
Creatine monohydrate. It’s not fancy. It’s not sexy. It works.
There are about a dozen other kinds, but none are absorbed as well as monohydrate. No others provide any other type of added benefit. For the best effects, you go with the original.
Creatine Elite uses nothing but creatine monohydrate. It’s unflavored, so you can add it to any beverage of your choice. We recommended adding it to RecoverElite post-workout, as creatine is absorbed best after training. Being unflavored, it has no additives.
Creatine Elite is 100% pure creatine monohydrate.
Creatine is Good for Endurance Athletes
Don’t let preconceptions lead you astray. Creatine can enhance your endurance performance. If you’re one who is very concerned about water storage, you can easily use a half dose to mitigate the effect. Creatine Elite is 100% pure, high-quality creatine monohydrate – The #1 Creatine Supplement for Endurance Athletes.