Revelling in my guilty pleasure, I dip my hand into the can, my mouth already awash in the imagined tastes of the tangy flavours of salt and vinegar Pringles Chips.
Crunch goes the chip, the excitement in my mouth exemplified by the shouts of my family as they watch Usain Bolt compete in the 100 metres dash.
Shooting forward to the sound of the gun, eyes ahead, arms pumping, legs stretching to cover as much ground as possible, Usain Bolt takes the lead at 3.3 seconds.
On the outside he is competing for 1st place position against 7 other highly qualified men. On the inside, unbeknownst to him and those watching, his cells are also competing in a 100 metres energy production dash and as far as we can tell, they are relying on one specific organic compound in order to win.
First discovered by Michel Eugène in 1832, creatine gained its popularity within the body building industry for its association with the ability to build muscle.
Creatine does not synthesize protein, that job is left to the amino acids. However what creatine does do is regulate the energy homeostasis within a cell.4
Within the cells energy is released by the breaking down of a molecule called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) into ADP (adenosine diphosphate). This process usually occurs in an energy production cycle. It releases the energy needed by the cells to perform the many different functions required to keep the body alive. In moments of intense exercise ATP needs to be constantly broken down to meet the energy demands. This is where creatine comes into play.
At 7.5 seconds Usain Bolt is a full stride ahead of his competitors.
As he propels himself forward his demands for energy are intense. To meet these energy demands his body uses creatine to buffer ATP, allowing it to be replenished as quickly as possible.
When adenosine triphosphate is broken down to release energy it loses a phosphate and becomes adenosine diphosphate. Creatine, offered as phosphocreatine, donates a phosphate to ADP thus turning it back into ATP for energy usage.
This constant supply of energy is what is allowing Usain Bolt to be well ahead of the pack at 8.9 seconds.
The benefits of creatine are felt most strongly during short periods of intense exercise like weight lifting, or sprinting. It allows the body to work longer and feel less fatigued.
As Usain Bolt sprints to the finish line his skeletal muscles are not the only ones depending on creatine in order to win in the energy production dash. Other organs, like the heart and the brain, are also taking part keeping him alert and focused.
In fact creatine is so important for the brain that a lack of it has been linked to mental disorders.4 For example it has been found that many regions in the brain with tissue containing creatine transporter proteins are compromised in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. The same is true in psychiatric disorders as well.4
The noise being made by the spectators in the stadium seem as nothing compared to the noise being made by my family.
At 9.58 seconds Usain Bolt crosses the finish line.
He has broken the world record and has become the world’s fastest man to ever run 100 metres.
And I still have not finished my second Pringle’s chip.
- Buford, Thomas W et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Creatine Supplementation and Exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 4 (2007): 6. PMC. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/. 4 Apr. 2015.
- Summers, Spencer. “Creatine Monohydrate: A Scientific Investigation of the Physical Benefits and the Physiological Risks.” Health Psychology Home Page. Vanderbilt University Department of Psychology, 5 Oct. 2009. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. .
- Kimball, John, Mike Farabee, A. Daniel Johnson, and Jessica Blackburn. “Why Is ATP so Good for Storing Energy?” BioBook. The Adapa Project, 19 Sept. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. .
- Allen, Patricia J. “Creatine Metabolism and Psychiatric Disorders: Does Creatine Supplementation Have Therapeutic Value?” Neuroscience and Bio-behavioural Reviews 36.5 (2012): 1442–1462. PMC. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
- Longo N, Ardon O, Vanzo R, Schwartz E, Pasquali M. 2011. Disorders of creatine transport and metabolism. Am J Med Genet Part C Semin Med Genet 9999:1–7.
- Willis, Joanna, Rachael Jones, Nneka Nwokolo, and Jeremy Levy. “Protein and Creatine Supplements and Misdiagnosis of Kidney Disease.” The BMJ. The British Medical Journal, 8 Jan. 2010. Web. 29 Apr. 2015. .