What is creatine?

What is creatine?

What is creatine?

Creatine is a derivative of 3 amino acids which are arginine, glycine, and methionine. It is therefore, in principle, a supplement based on animated acids and not an amino acid per se. Its role is to provide energy to the cells for short and intense efforts.

The creatine whose name comes from the Greek kreas (meat) is produced naturally by the body and is stored mainly in the skeletal muscle. Supplementation increases the muscle content of creatine and phosphocreatine by 10-30%, which improves energy availability for high-intensity exercises. It was discovered in 1835 by a French scientist named Chevreul.


Creatine is not a doping product

It is difficult to understand the disproportionate controversy surrounding creatine that took place in France in the 90s in the bodybuilding world and again in 2014 with the Florent Manaudou affair in the swimming world. Some people equate it with a doping drug that is hazardous to health just like anabolic steroids. Creatine is a food supplement authorized in France and also authorized by sports bodies like the IOC and the sports federations. Creatine monohydrate can be found in pharmacy, pharmacy and of course, all sports nutrition shops. It is usually sold as a powder, but it is also found in capsule form or in liquid form.

Effect of Creatine

It is the complement to take muscle: creatine increases muscle performance and allows better recovery. Creatine molecules with a high affinity to water will increase the hydration of the muscle cells, which leads to an increase in their volume. The muscles appear swollen, but it is actually the excess water that gives them this appearance. We can speak of a retention of muscular water that has nothing to do with the retention of subcutaneous water.

Links to Muscle Growth

Muscle contractions require energy. In fact, any chemical reaction or physiological action requires energy. All this energy comes from a component called adenosine triphosphate or ATP. Few ATP resources are stored in our muscles. These ATP stocks must be continuously replenished. This is precisely the object of metabolism: the decomposition of foods (carbohydrates, lipids and sometimes proteins ) to produce ATP in order to allow our actions of everyday life. ATP is constantly renewing during our daily activities, mainly through the decomposition of lipids.

However, a “normal” metabolism with energy produced by lipids is inappropriate to support ATP during a very high-intensity effort. When ATP rates fall, for example at the moment when the racing speed begins to decline after 60 meters in a 100-meter sprint, its insufficiency is immediately overcome by a simple and very simple process which involves a component called creatine phosphate (CP, also known as phosphocreatine) 1 . Creatine phosphate is the first, but not the only supplier of ATP. During high-intensity efforts for up to 25 seconds. For activities that last longer, it is primarily the carbohydrates and the fats that will provide ATP.

What is particularly interesting with creatine during muscle recovery after exertion is the obvious correlation between intramuscular creatine and creatine phosphate and, on the other hand, by other anabolic and anticatabolic reactions.

One reason why creatine has become a popular nutritional supplement is that several scientists have come to the conclusion that an increase in intramuscular creatine results in increased anabolism in the synthesis of proteins of the contractile Muscle fiber.

In fact, it’s a preliminary study on anabolic steroids that revealed that a part of muscle growth is due to the ability of steroids to increase levels of creatine phosphate in the muscle. Perhaps even more interesting is the prospect that an increase in intramuscular stocks of creatine and creatine phosphate reduces the decomposition of other muscle proteins, due to its effects on intramuscular glutamine stocks. Indeed, several studies show a direct correlation between certain aspects of muscle protein metabolism and intramuscular glutamine stocks.

In general, intramuscular glutamine stocks allow and even stimulate the synthesis of proteins in muscle fibers other than myofibrils. In addition, protein degradation is accentuated with the fall in intramuscular glutamine stocks. Therefore, anything that affects the intramuscular stocks of glutamine also has a consequence on the synthesis of muscle proteins or on protein losses in muscle.

The general energy balance within the muscle cell itself is closely related to the process that affects the intramuscular stocks of glutamine.

When the energy of the cells decreases, there is ammonia production. Increasing ammonia can result in glutamine losses, which causes increased degradation of proteins. Still, the rise in creatine stocks and therefore creatine phosphate can cause both an increase in contractile or non-contractile proteins and a decrease in protein loss in the muscle.

In other words, creatine is not only a short-term palliative for increasing performance (eg for sprinting). It should be related to both anabolic and anticatabolic reactions within the muscle cell that have a direct impact on recovery, muscle growth, and strengthening.

Creatine is not dangerous

Creatine is safe if taken in the recommended amounts. Overdose, creatine consumption can lead to muscle cramps, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and dehydration. It is therefore not recommended to consume it during periods of high heat. Overdosage of creatine may damage the kidneys if your hydration is not adequate.

Indeed, the use of creatine causes an increase in metabolic waste. These are eliminated by the kidneys. If you do not drink enough water to help the kidneys eliminate this waste, they can quickly be overworked. In the long term, this can cause kidney failure. Drinking plenty of water is therefore very important when you are taking creatine.

Creatine is good for health


Many studies have shown that creatine monohydrate is beneficial to health because of its antioxidant potential . It is known that intensive training is associated with an oxidative stress that can lead to apoptosis (death of the cell). A new study published in August 2015 in the International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences 2 demonstrated an additional beneficial effect of creatine monohydrate: that of decreasing cell death induced by intensive exercise.


Another beneficial effect: a study by the Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine in South Korea and the Brain Institute and Department of Psychiatry in the United States, published in the renowned Journal Biological Psychiatry in September 2016 3 , demonstrated a beneficial antidepressant effect Of creatine.

A second study by the University of São Paulo Medical School published in the Journal of Affective Disorders 4 in November 2016 confirms these beneficial effects with creatine monohydrate (6 g per day) to treat depressive episodes and cognitive People with bipolar disorder.


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