The bodybuilder’s mainstay supplement, Creatine, can significantly improve the brain’s performance, making it an exciting and powerful nootropic.
Anybody who’s been into lifting weights for some time will have at least dabbled with creatine once or twice to either maximize size or strength gains.
In my own experience, creatine has helped me build a ton of strength when I’ve neared training plateaus.
Even though I had supplemented with creatine and recommended it to friends for some time now, I had noticed a direct improvement in my cognitive abilities and a corresponding plunge in mental energy levels when I ceased supplementing it.
My research on Creatine at the time was barely superficial and I wasn’t surprised to learn that this supplement — that can be found in various food sources — could actually directly contribute to higher levels of productivity when working, studying, or reading.
Creatine: The Dark Horse of Nootropics
When you think about Nootropics or smart drugs, for the sake of increasing productivity, stimulants like Modafinil, Adderall, and Caffeine pop into your mind.
Many individuals out there looking to improve their productivity without suffering from the side-effect profiles of stimulants — clamminess, jitteriness, anxiety, elevated body temperature, tachycardia, hypertension, headaches, feeling “cracked out,” comedowns, etc. — are left to work with their own devices, failing to unlock their maximum potential.
But the evergreen bodybuilding supplement makes a strong case for improving productivity, not just by increasing mental acuity by refueling neurotransmitters, but also by fueling the brain to prolong stamina as well as offering protection from neurological diseases and neurotoxins [R].
It can also improve reasoning abilities and counteract some of the sluggishness brought on by sleep deprivation [R].
Vegetarians and highly-stressed individuals have been reported to enjoy stellar results from supplementing creatine [R].
Creatine is also one of the safest and most studied performance enhancing drugs — yet one of the fewest over-the-counter supplements that can actually yield supraphysiological results.
And lastly, creatine can also provide antioxidant benefits.
How It Works
Creatine is a non-essential amino acid that your body can produce it naturally through glycine and arginine, but it is notoriously difficult to consume an active-dose’s-worth through food sources alone.
It is synthesized by your liver, kidneys, and pancreas [R].
In fact, the average person would need to consume an exorbitant amount of food to enjoy an active dose to the point where their diet would be derailed.
When you supplement creatine, you body stores it as phosphocreatine which is a precursor to ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) — equivalent to your body’s energy currency of choice.
Most ATP (around 95%) is stored in the muscles, with the remainder stored in the liver, kidneys, and brain.
Increased ATP levels can power the muscles through vigorous training regimens as well as directly contribute towards recovery and growth.
But it is the higher ATP levels in the brain that we are concerned with today.
Creatine as a Nootropic: ATP Levels in The Brain
Now, when it comes to the ol’ noggin, it is used to restock ATP levels produced by the mitochondria in the brain cells.
When your neurons use ATP, it loses its phosphate molecule becoming ADP (adenosine diphosphate). But when Creatine is added into the mix — becoming phosphocreatine in the body — the depleted ADP is reconverted to ATP to continue fueling the neurons.
As Nootropics Expert puts it, you can expect to enjoy some of the following benefits:
- Brain Energy. Creatine can reduce mental fatigue. Creatine re-charges ATP which is the fuel source for your brain cells.
- Neurotransmitters. Creatine re-charges ATP which is directly involved in producing, packaging and secreting neurotransmitters. Creatine boosts intelligence, improves memory, facilitates faster thinking, and improves mood.
- Neuroprotectant. Creatine fuels ATP, and boosts cellular metabolism which helps protect against neuronal damage from toxins. And improves cognition.
Studies have shown that children with higher levels of creatine in their brain enjoyed a better working memory when it came to performing daily tasks over children with lower levels of the naturally-occurring amino acid [R].
Another study shows that this non-essential amino acid can improve productivity with a middling dose in a state of sleep deprivation [R].
Although there are several versions of the supplement out there, the best form you can continue to purchase is Creatine Monohydrate.
Be sure to consume in conjunction with carbohydrates to improve absorption — although many supplements already contain some form of sugar as flavoring to the salty-ish powder.
If you suffer from liver or kidney problems, be sure to consult a physician before taking on new supplements.
Start with 5g a day, but try not to exceed 10g. You don’t have to cycle it or take time off. Beware that other supplements may also contain smaller doses, so you might have to adjust your intake accordingly.
In recent months we have published an increasing number of articles on neurological and mental health, including an article on how the brain requires DHA — a polyunsaturated fatty acid only obtained through consuming animal fat — to ensure optimal function.
Another study we reported on showed that sugar could seriously harm the brain during adolescence.
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