Are you considering if creatine is right for you? Check out these 10 proven benefits of creatine that improve your mind and body performance.
First discovered in 1832, creatine has a long research history. And it's been used as a performance-enhancing supplement since the 1990s.
Creatine is now one of the most popular ways for athletes to improve their performance, second only to protein supplements.
Creatine is an amino-acid compound found in the human body. One of the key functions it serves is in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The body needs ATP for cellular metabolic processes. And so, more ATP means more power for the body to boost energy and athletic performance.
But, professional athletes aren't the only ones who can benefit from supplementing with creatine. In fact, creatine offers many positives as a supplement, regardless of your fitness level. It also helps support brain function and a range of physical processes.
Here are some of the surprising health benefits of creatine for your mind and body.
1. Provides Muscle FuelOne of the leading creatine monohydrate benefits is the way it increases your muscles' phosphocreatine stores. This helps the body form new ATP.
The body breaks down ATP during exercise to produce energy. And it also has to continually reproduce it at the same time. But, your body isn't able to reproduce it at a fast-enough rate to continuously ensure optimum ATP levels and performance.
Creatine supplements support ATP production to help fuel your muscles as you exercise. As a result, you will benefit from more fuel to keep going. More ATP also improves performance, especially during high-intensity exercise and weight training.
2. Reduces FatigueAnother of the key benefits of taking creatine is that it helps reduce physical signs of fatigue.
In one study, women who had taken creatine supplements showed fewer signs of neuromuscular fatigue during a cycling test. And a further study showed that endurance-trained males experienced less fatigue when exercising in extreme heat.
3. Promotes Muscle GrowthMany people take creatine supplements to add muscle mass.
Experiments into creatine results show that participants who use creatine gain more muscle mass than those who perform the same routine without supplementation.
Creatine works by signaling biological pathways and boosting exercise performance. This, in turn, helps the formation of proteins in the creation of new muscle fibers.
Creatine also raises levels of IGF-1, a growth factor which supports an increase in muscle mass. And, creatine has been shown to decrease levels of myostatin, a molecule which is known to stunt muscle growth.
4. Enhances RecoveryAnother of the many benefits of creatine is a more complete recovery from intense exercise.
Research shows that, after a 30-km race, athletes who had taken creatine supplements showed reduced inflammation and muscle cell damage.
For strength and endurance athletes, this means a more effective recovery. And that means an increased ability to reach performance goals through reduced recovery time.
5. Controls Blood Sugar LevelsIf you're following a low-carb diet to control blood sugar levels, these keto snacks are great for reducing your appetite between meals.
But if your blood sugar levels are still a concern, evidence shows that creatine may help lower blood sugar after eating.
Your short-term blood sugar response to eating is an indicator of diabetes risk. The sooner the glucose is cleared from your blood, the better. Creatine has been shown to lower the amount of sugar in the blood by boosting GLUT4, a molecule which transports glucose to your muscles.
In fact, one study investigated how creatine affects blood sugar levels following a high-carb meal. Participants who took creatine supplements and exercised were better at controlling blood sugar than those who only exercised.
6. Improves Bone HealthResearchers have also found that, by enhancing cellular energy production, creatine is important for bone maintenance and development.
One Swiss study found that creatine could be used as a therapy for bone-fracture healing and even in the treatment of osteoporosis. It is thought that the way creatine enhances alkaline phosphate (ALP) activity leads to bone growth.
7. Boosts Brain FunctionCreatine's benefits aren't just limited to your body, however. Creatine also plays a crucial role in brain function.
Your brain also requires ATP when performing difficult tasks. And, by increasing phosphocreatine stores in your brain, creatine helps it to produce more ATP. Creatine also boosts brain function by increasing dopamine levels.
Since meat is the leading dietary source of creatine, vegetarians tend to have low levels. In one study, vegetarians given creatine supplements were found to show a 20-50 percent improvement in tests of memory and intelligence.
And, after two weeks of taking creatine, older adults showed a significant improvement in recall ability.
8. Decreases DepressionCreatine has also been shown to help with depression and related mental health disorders such as anxiety and PTSD.
One trial found that depressive women taking creatine showed a faster improvement rate. In fact, after two weeks, their scores showed that they were no longer clinically depressed, and this benefit continued throughout the 8-week study period.
It is thought this effect is due to the way creatine helps promote ATP-production, which in turn actively reduces depression in the brain.
9. Compensates for Sleep DeprivationSleep is crucial for good physical and mental health. But, if you don't have a great night's sleep, creatine can improve your performance in complex physical and mental tasks.
Sleep-deprived rugby players given creatine were able to perform as well as those given caffeine. And, one study into participants who had gone 24 hours without sleep showed that creatine promoted a positive effect on mood and a better ability to complete difficult tasks.
10. May Fight Neurological DiseasesAnimal studies show promising results in the use of creatine to combat neurological diseases. These include Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and epilepsy.
By increasing dopamine, creatine has also been shown to have beneficial effects on Parkinson's disease in mice.
And, since a lack of a phosphocreatine in your brain is a key factor in brain damage and neurological diseases, creatine may reduce disease progression by boosting phosphocreatine.
Health Benefits of CreatineAs this list shows, the health benefits of creatine are extensive.
Although it's best known for enhancing athletic performance and promoting muscle growth, creatine also helps boost mental health, bone strength and blood sugar regulation, as well as many other functions.
Check out our range of sports nutrition products for creatine and other supplements. And, feel free to contact us with any questions or queries about supplementation.
.Sean: a dedicated health professional with more than 20 years of health and nutrition education, industry background, and personal experiences. Sean’s journey began at National Holistic Institute where he studied health and nutrition and he later became a certified trainer and weight loss specialist with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Though his education has positioned Sean as an expert in the health and nutrition industry, it is his own diagnosis of heart disease that has enabled Sean to open up and assist others with their own unique health and nutrition needs.