Creatine is one of the most popular supplements lifters use and for good reason.
You may have see it at health stores, added to preworkouts, and even included in commercial energy drinks.
But what are Creatine’s benefits and is it really worth all of the hype?
And the short answer is yes — yes, Creatine is really worth all the hype.
But Creatine’s benefits extend far beyond just to helping you grow muscle and get stronger.
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.
1. It Will Help You Build Muscle and Get Stronger
Interestingly, Creatine is one of the few over-the-counter supplements that will actually help you gain a supraphysiological edge when it comes to building muscle and strength.
This means that it will allow your body to build more muscle and develop more strength that it would’ve been capable of without it.
It also helps with an increase in satellite cell signaling — which facilitates muscle repair and new muscle growth — hence the reference to a supraphysiological edge.
Additionally, it can help with the following:
- Increased workload: Enables more total work or volume in a single training session, which is a key factor in long-term muscle growth
- Raised anabolic (muscle-building) hormones: Creatine can provoke a rise in anabolic hormones, such as IGF-1, to promulgate muscle growth
- Lower myostatin levels: Elevated levels of the protein myostatin can slow or totally inhibit new muscle growth. Supplementing with creatine can reduce these levels, increasing growth potential similar to YK-11, a myostatin inhibitor.
- Improved cell signaling: As we mentioned, it can increase satellite cell signaling, which contributes towards muscle repair and new muscle growth to a supraphysiological level.
- Reduced protein breakdown: It can stave off protein breakdown (catabolism) and muscle loss induced by a variety of factors, including overtraining.
- Increased cell hydration: This boosts water content within your muscle cells, which can enlarge the cells that may play a role in temporary muscle growth. Some fear that it can lead to bloating or a weighing down, but this isn’t the case. Hydration has been proven to be crucial when it comes to informing athletic performance.
2. It Has Been Proven to Boost Athletic Performance
After rising to prominence following the 1992 Olympic Games, Creatine has shot into the atmosphere in terms of popularity. Between 1996-2001, its sales volume increased eightfold.
As we have discussed, Creatine can significantly boost strength and muscular development through a variety of pathways, but for athleticism, we need to mention muscle cell hydration and its role in producing adenosine triphosphate or ATP.
Hydration — along with sleep deprivation — is the leading cause in a drop in athletic performance. By prolonging or improving hydration, endurance and athletic performance will both receive a boost.
ATP is necessary for muscle cell energy production.
It can increase athletic performance by 15%, although it doesn’t have much of an impact for less vigorous activities [R].
3. It Has Nootropic Properties
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.
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].
4. You Cannot Get Enough Creatine From Your Diet Alone
Ok, you can get enough Creatine from your diet, but are you willing to shovel down several pounds of food a day?
Raw salmon and beef contain roughly 1-2g of Creatine per pound. If you do vigorous activities like lift weights, you would need 5-10g — depending on activity levels and bodyweight — of Creatine per day to optimize your body’s Creatine stores.
This would mean consuming anywhere between 5-10lb of meat per day.
Instead of stretching your stomach and breaking the bank, it’s better to buy Creatine Monohydrate in supplement form for your sake!
Some preworkouts contain it, but at around 1-2g per servings, making it pathetically underdosed. This is a marketing ploy to add prestige to their product and to create an opportunity to upsell more supplements down the line.
5. It Has Been Extensively Studied and Proven to Be Safe
And finally, despite the concerns of some, it has proven to be safe and is well-studied. Of course, if you do have any lingering concerns, we recommend you to contact your physician before taking on any new supplementation.
It has a phenomenal safety profile and we recommend all lifters to supplement this wonderful product. You don’t need a loading phase or to take it in cycles. Between 5-10g of Creatine a day is enough to reap the benefits for body and mind.
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