Creatine - What, Why, When?

Ever wondered what Creatine is? Well, look no further. In this blog I shall discuss what Creatine is, what it does, and when best to take it.

Firstly, what is Creatine? Creatine is a white compound that was first discovered in 1832 by French scientist Chevreul. It wasn't until 1847 that Leiberg discovered that Creatine in the body was directly involved in producing muscle work. Creatine can be found naturally occuring in food sources such as Beef, Pork and some types of Fish.

When digested most of the Creatine will be taken up by the skeletal and cardiac muscles through insulin-mediated active transport. Once there much of the Creatine combines with phosphate to become Creatine Phosphate. The function of Creatine & Creatine Phosphate is to rapidly resynthesize ATP to meet energy demands.

Adenosine triphosphate is the molecule responsible for the energy in your cells. When the muscle needs energy, a Phosphate breaks off from the Adenosine back bone and the energy released from this reaction is used (putting it as simply as possible). Creatine and Creatine Phosphate resynthesize ATP via something called the Creatine Kinase (CK) reaction. This CK reaction is the regulator for Creatine Phosphate breakdown within the cell - if there is more Creatine in the system, then there will be more Creatine Phosphate available for the CK reaction.

The supplementation of Creatine will be most beneficial for individuals participating in high intensity, short duration and repeated bout training or competition such as Weightlifting, Sprinting, Strength Training etc. Creatine has also been shown to increase Creatine Phosphate resynthesis and myofibril protein synthesis, which results in muscle growth.

A table showing results from different studies on various groups. The Creatine supplemented group clearly showing greater results

When and how much to take? This will depend on the nature of your sport, your current nutritional habits. During a loading phase (when you are trying to raise the concentration of stored Creatine) it has been suggested to take Creatine with Carbohydrates (ensuring caloric intake isn't too high). 1 study showed that consuming 4-6g of Creatine with 1g/kg Body weight of carbohydrates was fairly effective at increasing Creatine concentrations in the muscle. You can also load without the carbs but it may take slightly longer. Taking the Creatine during and after your training is the best time to take it.

So in summary Creatine has been shown to hugely benefit individuals who take part in short duration, high intensity exercise or competition. Having higher concentrations of Creatine will allow for more Creatine Phosphate that will allow greater synthesisation of ATP.

If you have any questions on this topic or anything else, please get in touch.


Creatine Supplmentation: Forms, Function and Effects - Bryan M Grande Et All

Creatine Loading and Maitenance Dosing - Jose Antonio PHD

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