This Is Your Brain On Creatine!
When we think about a supplement such as creatine, we immediately associate it with muscle growth, increased strength and a whole lot of energy. However, what many athletes do not realise is the effect the supplement can have on the brain. The supplement can have a positive impact on your cognitive functioning, so read on to find out what benefits this supplement can provide you with.
The Importance of Creatine for Energy Production
Taking creatine on a daily basis can provide you with a lot more muscle growth, but the substance does more for your body than you may realise. In the human body, energy is stored in the form of ADP or adenosine diphosphate. Adenosine diphosphate has two different phosphate groups connected to it, making the substance stable, but with low energy.
When our metabolism starts to work, a third phosphate group will connect itself to the adenosine diphosphate molecule, turning it into a different molecule called adenosine triphosphate. Contrary to adenosine diphosphate, adenosine triphosphate is not so stable, but it provides a lot more energy. The reason for that is the third phosphate group that created another phosphate bond, enabling the molecule in question to hold more energy. Once the bond of the molecule is released, energy will be released into the body. This energy will be used to perform important cell functions, which includes muscle contractions.
Creatine is a substance that can also form a bond with phosphate groups. This bond of substances is also referred to as phosphocreatine (PCr). PCr is a substance that can deliver one of its phosphate groups to adenosine diphosphate, subsequently turning it into adenosine triphosphate that will deliver energy to our cells.
In short, creatine will provide the phosphate group needed for adenosine diphosphate to convert into adenosine triphosphate. Without this extra phosphate group, our cells would run out of energy.
Creatine and Our Brain
So how does creatine work in our brain and why is taking this supplement so beneficial for our cognitive function as well as our energy levels? Well, there are certain cells within the body that require a tremendous amount of energy to function properly. One of these cells is the neuron, which relies a lot on substances such as creatine to transport energy.
Neurons are the building blocks of our nervous system. They are nerve cells that are quite similar to other cells in our body. However, there is a big difference between neurons and normal cells, because neurons are able to transmit information throughout the body.
The neurons in the human body can communicate in two different ways: chemically and electrically. The operation of the specific neurons will depend on the task that needs to be performed in the body. For example, sensory neurons will transfer information from sensory receptor cells to our brain, while so-called motor neurons will transfer information from the brain to the muscles. Interneurons is another form of neurons that is important for the body, because interneurons enable the various neurons in the body to communicate with each other.
Studies executed in universities and research facilities all around the world have shown that the creatine/phosphocreatine system is of vital importance to our brain function, considering the fact that the third phosphate group is needed for the brain to get the amount of energy it needs.
How Do Neurons Work?
In order to make our bodies work, neurons have to communicate with each other and this requires energy. When an action needs to be performed, for example a muscle contraction, one neuron will start to relay information to the neuron next to it. To relay this information, neurons will use electrical signals and chemical messages.
Once the message has been sent from one neuron to another, the message will be received by the dentrites of the neuron. The information is then absorbed into the neuron and transferred to other parts such as the cell body and axon of the neuron in question.
When the information reaches the axon, the information is converted into an electric signal. This electric signal is better known under the name action potential. This action potential will eventually lead our body to perform a certain action.
As we already explained, the use of creatine can provide our brain with a lot more energy and make our neurons work more efficiently, but how does this translate in physical benefits? Well, the most obvious benefit will be increased focus. When we have to concentrate on a workout for a long period of time, we may lose attention after a while. Using supplements will keep you focussed during your workout and give you much better results in the long run.
Cognitive functioning is just one aspect of the brain benefits though, because neurons are responsible for the correct functioning of many chemical messengers in our body. If these chemical messengers do not work properly, your body can be affected greatly. Three of the chemical messengers that are closely associated with neurotransmitters are acetylcholine, endorphins and dopamine.
Acetylcholine is the substance that is associated with your memory, muscle contractions and your ability to absorb information. A lack of acetylcholine has can lead to memory problems, a serious lack of concentration, cramps, involuntary muscle movement and other related problems. In short, substances such as acetylcholine are of vital importance to athletes.
Is This Supplement Right for Me?
Athletes who use creatine often want one or two things: an increase in muscle mass or more focus during their workout. If you find yourself in either of these two groups, this supplement will provide you with the benefits you need.
We do need to mention that there are different forms of the supplement on the market, so you may have to do some comparing before you choose the supplement that fits you best. Some supplements are available in micronized form, enabling athletes to absorb the creatine faster. However, there are also supplements with a slower absorption rate, but with more muscle recovery power. At the end of the day, it is best to choose a supplement version that fits your goals.