Creatine, a molecule composed of three amino acids, is essential for providing energy right from the first muscular contraction of our physical activity.
Its name derives from the Greek word créas (meat). It is synthesised by the liver from Arginine, S-adenosyl Methionine and Glycine.
95% of Creatine is stored in the skeletal muscles in the form of Phosphocreatine (PCr). In this form it constitutes an energy reserve for muscle contraction, readily available to synthesise ATP (energy). Therefore, the energy needed to produce ATP during and after physical exercise depends mainly on the quantity of PCr deposited in the muscle. The ability to maintain an effort increases as the PCr supply increases, and this suggests that there is the possibility to increase that supply through the integration of Creatine.
To validate this hypothesis, multiple studies were conducted and about 70% of them reported a significant improvement in performance. In long term studies, subjects taking Creatine earn about twice the body mass and/or the lean mass compared with people taking a placebo. This is due to a better ability to perform high-intensity exercise.
Some studies suggest that Creatine supplementation delays the fatigue, improves recovery ability and increases the muscle contraction force. The benefits would be evident only in high-intensity short exercises, especially if performed in succession with very short recovery pauses in-between (in tests of explosive strength, in all sprints, in combat and ‘stop and go’ sports, typically team sports like rugby, basket, hockey, football).
Several protocols regarding its intake have been written:
- Loading and maintenance protocol: loading (0.3 g/kg/day or from 20 g/day for 5-7 days), followed by maintenance (3-5 g/day);
- No-loading protocol: constant intake (3 g/day);
- Cyclic loading protocol: loading (0.3 g/kg/day or 20 g/day for 5-7 days), followed by maintenance (3-5 g/day) and a new loading phase each 3-4 weeks.
So if you want to increase your muscle mass or make your sprint more explosive, Creatine is the ally you were looking for!