- 4 Jul 2011
Creatine Myth and Facts
by Jacob Wilson
by Jacob Wilson
I can't help but shake my head whenever I hear gym morons discuss creatine. It has become the ultimate "tall tail" in bodybuilding today. And the myths and stories concerning this supplement, become more and more preposterous as the years go by. The plain fact of the matter is that most people who take creatine, do not even know what it is, or exactly how our bodies use it. I find this puzzling, because I do not believe in ever taking supplements that I do not fully understand. After you finish reading this article, the myths and tall tales concerning creatine will be completely dissolved and like myself, you will shake your head when rookies in the gym, cluelessly discuss the effects of this supplement.
Questions and Answers: I receive at least a handful of letters a day concerning creatine. I will post the most frequently asked of those below.
Q: Is Creatine a Steroid?
A: I would like to dispel this myth by giving you the definition of what an anabolic steroid is. These are synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone. Creatine, as you will see below is not. Basically anyone who says this should immediately be labeled a gymbecile.
Q: What is Creatine?
A: First, let me emphasize that our bodies already produce creatine naturally. Did you ever watch the transformers when you were a kid? Well if not, there were groups of robots called " combiners. " They would join together and form an even larger and more massive robot, crushing everything in their paths! Our liver does the same thing with the three amino acids, Arginine, Glycine and Methionine. It combines them to form creatine, much like the constructicons combined to form devastator! Ok so that was a lame example, but it explains the process quite nicely.
That being said, it is also important to understand that over 95 percent of this substance is found in our muscles. With the remainder being stored in our brain, heart and other parts of our bodies.
Q: The clerk at my local sporting goods store, explained to me, that when your body runs out of food at night, your muscles can take the creatine in them and use it to fuel their growth.
A: I don't believe I will even waste my time dispelling his explanation. How moronic can you get? My real question is, where do these people get there information from? I actually have a theory on this very matter. I believe, that there is a moronic website that is the complete opposite of abcbodybuilding. I've tried to crack the code, but gymmorons.com just didn't work. Perhaps they are trying to hide their identity? But regardless of my theory, the guy is dead wrong!
Q: What exactly does creatine do?
A: I will break down the uses of this supplement into 4 sections.
- Creatine works mainly to increase our Creatine Phosphate System
This is a very difficult concept to understand. And what I am going to do, here is an excerpt from my article on energy systems. It will explain how our body uses energy, and how creatine fits into this!
The Three Energy Systems
What we will now discuss is how our muscles are fueled to contract in virtually every situation possible. You see, a different energy system is used for a heavy set of 4 repetitions then compared to a set of 12 repetitions. Each of these is linked with a particular muscle fiber type. If you can manipulate the energy system, then you can drastically increase muscle mass.
Firstly I need to emphasize that our muscle fibers store ATP. The problem is that we only have enough to fuel contractions for about 3 seconds, and even in the most well trained bodybuilder that supply can only last about 5-6 seconds. So what is the point of having such a low amount of stored energy? It's essentially designed to give you a quick burst. You name the sport( barring chess ) and every athlete will tell you the benefits of being able to call on a quick burst of energy! What becomes painfully obvious at this point is that 3 seconds will not power 90-99 percent of traditional bodybuilding sets. Therefore our body must have a way of producing more energy to sustain contractions! This is where the 3 fueling systems come into play!
note: again, all three energy system's function is to produce ATP. These processes dominantly take place in the mitochondria( about 95 percent of the ATP in your muscle stores to be exact ! ) that lie inside of the sarcoplasm of the muscle fiber. For now I will explain the energy systems, further on I will explain how to increase their proficiency!
- Phosphagen System
To replenish the ATP levels quickly after the initial energy boost is used up, muscle cells contain a high-energy phosphate compound called creatine phosphate(PC). To state the obvious, this compound contains a phosphate. Your muscle cell releases enzymes that break the phosphate off of the PC molecule, then this phosphate is transferred back to the ADP to reform the high energy molecule ATP.
To recap, when your body uses ATP, it breaks one phosphate off of it which produces energy. This burst fuels contractions. What is left after a phosphate is broken off of ATP is the molecule called ADP.
Our muscle fibers contain 5 times as much creatine phosphate then it does ATP. Your cell sends out enzymes that break off the phosphate from the creatine. The Energy released from this sever and the phosphate molecule are recombined with the ADP to again form ATP. The PC system provides an additional 10 to 20 seconds of energy to allow us, as bodybuilders to continue an intense set!
A process such as this can occur in the blink of an eye, which makes it very efficient! Again, for the conscious athlete( when I say conscious, I mean one who improves this system ) this will provide a good 15-20 seconds more energy for contractions, and perhaps a bit more. You see creatine phosphate stores run out about this time. In total ATP stores and the creatine phosphate system provide about 25-30 seconds of maximum muscular contraction. This system is the powerhouse for extremely high intensity activities. If it is weak then you will have a difficult time lifting heavy weights for any extended period of time. This will be extremely detrimental if your goal is to hit the denser fast twitch IIb fibers.
One way to increase your creatine stores is obvious. You can easily saturate your muscle cells with creatine by actually supplementing with it. Your body already produces it, but supplementation assists in the saturation process. You can see why this is a proven product. It literally speaks for itself in functionality, and has proven to be one of the safest substances on the shelves today!
Millions have used creatine for over a decade with absolutely no side effects whatsoever. And the amount of studies to back up its safety are second to none! This is a tried and true power house. You can learn more about it by reading my article, creatine myths and facts.
My recommendation is to load it for 5 days at 15-25 grams broken up into 5 grams servings per meal. This will saturate your muscles with creatine. Following this period simple maintain saturation with 5-10 grams a day. Then start the process over in about 8 weeks. On a side note, steak is also beneficial to refilling your PC stores. It to is rich in this substance!
What System is Beneficial For - It allows you to contract your muscles up to a total of 30 seconds of
intense exertion( with the ATP system )! The benefits are obvious. Anytime you lift heavy, you call on this system to back you up. If you play other explosive sports then it is also obvious. A play in football is relatively short and would rely heavily on the PC system. Hockey shifts are also relatively short, many elite teams only allow 30 seconds shifts of all out work per player. You name it: martial arts, soccer, rugby, all have the need for superior functionality of the PC system.
- Increases The Pump!
Creatine has been shown to super hydrate your muscles( cell volumization; it literally draws water into the muscle cells). This increases pumps dramatically! Even while on low carbs, creatine can help and maintain your pump in the weight room.
- Increases The Reparation Process of Bodybuilding.
Muscle growth occurs, via a process known as the dehydration synthesis. What does this mean? The dehydration synthesis is the process in which larger molecules are formed. In this case we are referring to muscle protein. And this is also referred to, as of course protein synthesis.
Consequently, many journals point, to creatine actually enhancing this.
The main function of creatine is to provide our muscles with more energy. More energy means that our muscles can contract harder therefore our body must adapt to the greater amount of stress that we put our bodies through. It super hydrates our muscles and improves protein synthesis.