essential player in one of the three primary energy systems used for muscle contracton. It exists in two different forms within the muscle fiber: as free (chemically unbound) creatine and as creatine phosphate. This latter form of creatine makes up two-thirds of the total creatine supply."
As the muscle is contracting, the adenosine triphosphate cleaves off a phosphate molecule, thus becoming adenosine diphosphate. Essentially, creatine phosphate donates its phosphate molecule to the adenosine diphosphate, turning it back into adenosine triphosphate, ready once again to be used for muscular contraction.
The longer term effect of abundantly circulating creatine in the body is continuous recycling of ADP into ATP, resulting in the allowance of more muscular contraction for longer periods of time. This then enables longer workouts with repetitive weightlifting routines, leading to larger muscles and gains in strength in a shorter time than what could be derived without creatine supplementation.
"This greater ATP resynthesis also keeps your body from relying on another energy system called glycolysis, which has lactic acid as a byproduct," explain Sahelian and Tuttle. Lactic acid is responsible for creating the burning sensation felt during exercise; muscle movement stops when there's too much lactic acid buildup. But, when you take creatine, you regenerate ATP continuously, preventing too much lactic acid production.
Creatine is also a natural aid in muscle building, point out Burke and Gastelu. A placebo-controlled study of two groups of football players showed that those taking 15 g of creatine daily for 28 days had a significantly greater increase in muscle mass (5.3 pounds verus 3.9 pounds in the placebo group). This study was published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, in 1998.
Write Burke and Gastelu, "it stands to reason that if creatine lets your muscles perform more work at a higher intensity, you're going to be able to stimulate even more muscle growth with creatine than you would without creatine."
Creatine, it is postulated, seems to enhance the body's capacity to make myosin and actin, which are two prominent muscle proteins; these two proteins must be in adequate supply for muscle cells in order for them to continue their ability to contract.
For you to utilize creatine effectively, you must start out in what is known as a loading phase, which basically means ingesting enough creatine to first saturate the muscles with the substance. The loading phase requires the user to ingest approximately 20 to 25 grams of creatine daily, perhaps in four or five divided doses of five grams for five to seven days. Following this loading phase is the maintenance phase - product labels should dictate how many scoops of creatine powder or capsules this requires.
According to Burke and Gastelu, those people who have the lowest levels of creatine in their muscles to begin with achieve the most pronounced effects through supplementation with creatine. Believe it or not, they point out, women have slightly higher levels of creatine than do men, and not so surprisingly, vegetarians have lower levels of creatine. This group will likely receive benefits from supplementing with creatine, as this substance is naturally occurring in meat.
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