Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is considered to be the currency of life by scientists in the field of biology. This is because ATP is the energy molecule – it is used to fuel nearly every cellular process in the animal and plant kingdoms. Obviously, ATP is very important. Not just for actions with high energy demands, such as exercise, but for every movement our bodies make, including maintenance of electrolyte gradients, digesting proteins, and creating DNA!
Let’s break down the term “adenosine triphosphate.” Adenosine is the combination of a nucleotide and a pentose sugar, namely adenine and ribose. Attached to the ribose are three phosphate groups all bound together, the triphosphate portion of the name. Within each of these phosphate bonds exists a tremendous amount of energy that our bodies are capable of harnessing when the bonds are broken. When this occurs, the molecule is then known as adenosine diphosphate (ADP), and if it loses another phosphate group, adenosine monophosphate (AMP).
Following ATP breakdown to ADP and/or AMP, all is not lost – we can generate new ATP from the existing ADP and AMP through a process known as phosphorylation. Phosphorylation occurs primarily during 3 different metabolic processes, glycolysis, the Krebs cycle and electron transport chain system, and substrate-level phosphorylation from phosphocreatine. Independent from other processes, glycolysis generates 2 molecules of ATP from 1 molecule of glucose, the Krebs cycle + electron transport chain generates 25 molecules of ATP from 1 molecule of glucose, and 1 molecule of phosphocreatine generates 1 molecule of ATP.
When it comes to exercise, it is critical to understand each of these systems for optimal performance. At rest and during low-intensity exercise, the majority of ATP will be generated from the Krebs cycle + electron transport chain because this system is slow to operate, but it generates the most efficient ATP yield. During moderate to moderately-high intensity exercise, there will be a metabolic shift to primarily rely on glycolysis, as this process can occur quicker, but with fewer ATP yield. Finally at high-intensities, the body can only use the ATP that is already available, but this only lasts about 5-10 seconds. Luckily, creatine phosphate (made from creatine monohydrate) can rapidly regenerate ATP to extend this window to about 10-15 seconds.
While ATP is absolutely essential for its role as the energy molecule, it also serves many other functions. ATP, ADP, and AMP tell our cells about our energy status, which is very important for carrying out numerous cellular functions. For example, only under conditions of high energy (high concentrations of ATP and/or low concentrations of ADP and AMP) will our bodies attempt to build muscle and if the energy status is very low, the cell will begin to break down existing muscle to form more ATP. ATP also interacts with purine receptors that control numerous other cellular functions within our nervous system, brain, blood cells, endothelial cells, kidneys and others.
Supplementation with both creatine and ATP has shown great benefit for athletes. In a 12-week, periodized study in well-trained men, 400mg of daily ATP supplementation created robust improvements in muscle mass and strength performance. In fact, the ATP supplemented group gained over double the lean mass and strength than did the placebo group from week 0 to week 12 (1). This group of researchers also found ATP to be a vasodilator that enhances the blood flow response to exercise (2).
Creatine is one of the most substantiated nutritional supplements available. With the abundance of information available on creatine’s effects on body composition and performance, the best representation of the data will be available through meta-analysis. 18 studies meeting strict criteria found that creatine supplementation increases lean mass gain by about 250% and strength gain by 200% compared to placebo (3)! Because this has been observed at least 18 times over, we know this is not due to chance and creatine is an outstanding supplement for improving both body composition and athletic performance.
This is why BrickHouse Nutrition has combined both creatine and ATP into FOUNDATION Creatine + Real ATP – to ensure that athletes are getting the best that science has to offer. By combining ATP and creatine, maximal work output can be maintained longer and achieved more frequently, creating gains on top of gains.
- Wilson, J. M., Joy, J. M., Lowery, R. P., Roberts, M. D., Lockwood, C. M., Manninen, A. H., ... & Rathmacher, J. A. (2013). Effects of oral adenosine-5′-triphosphate supplementation on athletic performance, skeletal muscle hypertrophy and recovery in resistance-trained men. Nutrition & metabolism, 10(1), 1.
- Jäger, R., Roberts, M. D., Lowery, R. P., Joy, J. M., Cruthirds, C. L., Lockwood, C. M., ... & Wilson, J. M. (2014). Oral adenosine-5’-triphosphate (ATP) administration increases blood flow following exercise in animals and humans. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(28).
- Nissen, S. L., & Sharp, R. L. (2003). Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Physiology, 94(2), 651-659.