Creatine & Ribose for ATP Production

Creatine & Ribose for ATP Production

If you’re looking for more energy to power you  through your workouts, consider a dietary  supplement strategy that includes both creatine,  an ATP initiator, and ribose, an ATP sustainer.  The combination of these two natural substances  is a promising ergogenic strategy for improving  athletic performance and endurance.  


Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a high-energy  compound which is often referred to as the  body’s “energy currency.” This is truly an apt  term since ATP provides a primary source of  energy to power muscular activity. Although the  biochemistry of ATP may seem complex, its  contribution to energy metabolism can be  explained simply: When the body splits off one  of ATP’s three phosphates, its energy is released  and the muscle cells channel some of that energy  into mechanical movement.1 Where an athlete is  concerned, the goal of energy metabolism is to  provide an adequate amount of ATP to power the  muscles throughout the course of their physical  activity. This requires the presence of creatine  and ribose, natural substances which initiate and  sustain ATP production.  


Immediately after the onset of muscular activity,  before muscle ATP pools dwindle, a muscle  

enzyme begins to break down another high energy compound that is stored in the muscle,  called creatine phosphate.2 The way it works is  that the phosphate portion of creatine phosphate  is donated to replenish ATP supplies. This is  necessary since, as noted in the previous  paragraph, ATP lost one of its phosphates while  releasing energy, and so needs another phosphate  to continue doing its work. In this role, creatine functions as an ATP initiator, helping to provide  energy for about 20 seconds.3 

Creatine’s role in energy metabolism led  researchers to investigate its potential use as an  ergogenic (performance enhancing) supplement.   The results were seen in many published studies  which demonstrated creatine’s efficacy as an  ergogenic aid that initiated gains in muscle,  strength and performance.4, 5, 6, 7, 8 As a matter  of fact, in the January 1997 issue of Nutrition  Reviews, the opening paragraph of a review  entitled “Creatine is an ergogen for anaerobic  exercise” states, “Throughout history, athletes  have searched for performance-enhancing  [ergogenic] agents. Over the last few decades,  numerous dietary supplements have been  marketed as ergogenic agents. Most, if not all, of these supplements did little more than decrease  the net worth of the purchaser. Recently,  creatine has been marketed as an ergogenic  dietary supplement. Unlike previous claims,  however, there appears to be scientific merit to  the claim that creatine is ergogenic when taken in  large amounts.”9 


Another natural substance which is necessary for  ATP production is the simple sugar ribose. In  fact, ribose is one of the three substances  (besides phosphates and adenosine) which  

actually comprise the ATP molecule.10 Once  again, given its role in energy metabolism,  researchers examined the possibility that  supplementation with ribose might have  egrogenic benefits. This proved to be the case.  

In animal research, supplementation with ribose  led to an increase in purine nucleotides,11 substances necessary for the production of ATP.   Similar results were seen in human studies,  leading researchers to conclude, “Our data  suggest that ribose may both serve as an energy  source and enhance the de novo synthesis of  purine nucleotides.”12 A study conducted on  exercising men found similar results with ribose  supplementation, and found a decrease in blood  levels of hypoxanthine,13 a purine metabolite  which would otherwise be converted into uric  acid14 (an accumulation of which causes  symptoms of gout).  

Not surprisingly, in two studies patients suffering with AMP deaminase deficiency (a condition  characterized by exercise-induced muscle pain  and stiffness) who were supplemented with  ribose experienced almost complete to complete  elimination in muscle stiffness and cramps.15 16  In 1992, the author of one journal article stated  that the decline in the ATP experienced in many  conditions “can be attenuated or even entirely  prevented” with ribose.17 Evidence that ribose  stimulates ATP synthesis and improves cardiac  function led to a study which demonstrated that  ribose supplementation improved energy  metabolism in the heart, and improved the  heart’s tolerance for ischemia (oxygen  deficiency) in patients with coronary artery  disease.18 Given its role in energy metabolism,  as well as the benefits discussed in the  aforementioned studies, it can be stated that  ribose appears to sustain ATP production.  


Creatine is an ATP initiator. Ribose is an ATP  sustainer. Consequently, supplementation with  both of these natural substances is a promising  

ergogenic strategy for improving athletic  performance and endurance.  


  1. Curtis H., Biology, 4th edition (1983) Worth Publishers,  New York. pp. 680.  
  2. Whitney E, Rolfes S., Understanding Nutrition, Sixth  Edition, (1993) West Publishing Company, Minneapolis/St. Paul. pp. 449.  
  1. Ibid.  
  1. Gridstaff P, et al, Medicine and Science in Sports and  Exercise (Suppl. 1995) 27(5): S146  
  2. Almada A, et al, Medicine and Science in Sports and  Exercise (Suppl. 1995) 27(5):S146  
  3. Birch R, et al, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (1993) 52(3):362A  
  4. Birch R, et al, Eur J Appl Physiol (1994) 69(3):268-76  8. Greenhaff P, Int J Sport Nutr (1995) 5 Suppl:S100-10  9. Toler S, Nutrition Reviews (1997) 55(1): 21-25.  10. Whitney E, pp. 207.  
  5. Tullson PC, Terjung RL, Am J Physiol (1991)  261(2Pt1):C342-7.  
  6. Wagner DR, Gresser U, Zollner N, Ann Nutr Metab (1991) 35(5):297-302.  
  7. Gros M, Kormann B, Zollner N, Klin Wochenschr (1991) 69(4):151-5.  
  8. Kuchel P, Ralston G, Schaum’s Outline of Theory and  Problems of Biochemistry, Second Edition, McGraw Hill, New York. pp. 447.  
  9. Wagner DR, Gresser U, Zollner N, Ann Nutr Metab (1991) 35(5):297-302.  
  10. Zollner N, et al, Klin Wochenschr (1986) 64(24):1281- 90.  
  11. Zimmer HG, Basic Res Cardiol (1992) 87(4):303-16.  18. Pliml W, et al, Lancet (1992) 340(8818):507-10.  

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