Fuelling Your Energy Machine: Part 1

What if you could unlock your body’s full potential and tap into a reservoir of constant energy each and every day? Well, that reservoir of energy — that extra juice — would allow you to excel in all mental and physical activities and to build your best body ever. And as we know, a better body leads to a host of positive perks such as better health, beautiful and healthy-looking skin and not to mention, how your confidence level would take a magical boost.

As biochemists continue to learn more about performance nutrition science and the body’s complex energy requirements, their discoveries pave the way for a whole new frontier in exercise performance. Many familiar and other newer products promise quantum leaps in energy levels. To separate the hype from the cold, hard facts, let us take a look at the latest research on energy-enhancing supplements and examine exactly how they work and help fuel your energy machine.

 

Creatine Monohydrate

Utter the words “performance enhancement” at any gym and people are sure to bring up creatine. Known by many sports experts as “the one that works”, creatine is found naturally in muscles and in food such as red meat and fish.

The scientific community has conclusively proven that creatine increases anaerobic performance during short-duration, high-intensity activities such as weight training. More creatine in your muscles allows you to exercise harder and stronger, contributing to greater gains in strength and muscle size. Creatine supplementation is similar to you depositing money into a bank account. For muscles, these are deposits of stored energy.

While creatine’s positive effect on anaerobic performance is widely agreed on, there has been debate as to whether creatine benefits endurance athletes. Recent research shows that creatine supplementation has a positive effect on the power production parts of races, during the short sprints that may be required throughout or at the end of a long workout.

How It Gives You Juice

Muscles are made up of four basic biochemical: glucose, fatty acids, ATP and creatine phosphate. During strength-training exercises, glycogen supplies the muscle with the glucose necessary to perform your reps. As our muscle burns glucose, it creates ATP — the body’s source of energy. Each time your muscle contracts, ATP provides that initial burst of fuel. From there, your body would have enough ATP to provide about a 10-second burst of energy. Recent university laboratory studies have shown that by supplementing with creatine, you can increase the creatinine pools in your muscles by more than 20%. This can translate into a 5% increase in high-intensity exercise performance. And this extra 5% of energy can be the difference between achieving 11 reps or maxing out on the 12th one. The bottom line: Creatine allows you to work out slightly longer per set, helping you get stronger and bigger over time.

Performance Busters and Boosters

Creatine usage has been associated with muscle cramps. However, most researchers say the problem is not creatine but inadequate water and electrolyte ingestion. To avoid this problem, drink a glass of water for every serving of creatine you take daily. Studies show that there is a limit to the amount of creatine your muscles can hold — it is like putting gas in a tank that is already full. You are taking in unnecessary levels of creatine anytime you go beyond 10 grams a day after your muscle tissue has been fully saturated.

 

Creatine/Ribose

For optimal workout energy, taking ribose along with creatine may create a synergistic effect. Research shows that ribose may significantly enhance the replacement of ATP within depleted muscle cells. So, scientists have developed a combination of products that contain both creatine and ribose to create a synergistic product that produces a greater amount of ATP and a faster rate of ATP resynthesis.

How It Gives You Juice

As the sugar backbone of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribose is an essential carbohydrate for energy production. Studies show that ATP is exhaustively depleted during intense exercise and without ribose, your body cannot re-synthesise ATP. Your muscles use creatine to help synthesise ATP and ribose is required to synthesise the “A” part of ATP, which is the adenosine molecule. In simple terms, ribose is used to build the engine and creatine is there to fuel it. Ribose and creatine put together would culminate in a benefit that far exceeds that of either supplement taken alone. It usually takes several days to replace the energy lost to heavy exercise and since the body produces ribose from glucose very slowly, increasing your ATP through ribose supplementation may decrease the recovery time for athletes who are doing resistance training.

Performance Busters and Boosters

As with creatine alone, it is essential that you remain hydrated when taking creatine and ribose. In terms of maximum effectiveness, scientists believe that creatine and ribose delivered in an effervescent form allows for quicker absorption than creatine-only powder.