If you’ve ever visited a supplement store or shopped online for supplements, you’ve probably come across ads or salespeople promoting creatine. Well, that’s for a reason. It is regarded as one of the most researched supplements ever in both animal and human studies and has been proven beneficial.
Keep reading to find out what are its benefits and recommended way to consume for optimal results.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a natural source of energy in your body that helps your muscles work and provides cellular energy. It gets its moniker from the Greek term for meat. The body makes from a combination of amino acids, particularly arginine, glycine, and methionine. The liver, and to a smaller degree the kidneys and pancreas, are the primary organs responsible for its production.
As a dietary substance, serves several important roles. All of these uses stem from creatine’s role as a precursor to the energy-replenishing substance creatine phosphate (CP or phosphocreatine). Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the molecule most responsible for providing the energy necessary for muscular contraction during activity. In its simplest form, ATP is just three phosphate groups linked to an adenosine molecule.
Our muscles have a little ATP, but it goes out after a few seconds of intense activity and generates ATP through aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, which are two different processes. But these two processes make ATP at a slower rate than what muscles need when they work out. This is where creatine comes.
Levels of Creatine
About 50% of the creatine you need daily can be found in your own body.
The unit of measure for creatinine is milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Here are the average values for each gender:
|0.7 to 1.3 mg/dL
|0.5 to 1.1 mg/dL
This means an average youthful man weighing 70 kilograms (kg) has a creatine reservoir of 120 to 140 g. The quantity differs between individuals and is partially dependent on muscle mass and muscle fibre type.
Creatine levels in the body have been shown to decrease with age, and this trend has been believed to add to the natural loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with advancing years. However, the precise mechanisms underlying this decline in levels remain unclear.
Benefits of Creatine for the Body.
Here, we will discuss the evidence behind the top functions of creatine.
Improved Brain Function.
Your brain, like your muscles, accumulates phosphocreatine and relies on a steady supply of ATP. Its intake has been shown to improve brain performance in a number of ways, including by elevating dopamine levels and promoting mitochondrial health.
Memory: Research has also shown that it improves one’s ability to remember and retain information hence improving memory.
Focus: There is a widespread claim that consuming creatine pills helps focus. It has been found to improve focus by raising the level of two hormones epinephrine and dopamine.
Intelligence: Creatine intake has been shown to enhance cognitive performance, including working memory, in healthy individuals. Even children and adults who are creatine-lacking as a result of genetic conditions or malnutrition have shown improvement in cognitive abilities after taking creatine supplements.
In humans, 70% decrease in fatigue and a 50% reduction in dizziness over the course of a 6-month trial on children with traumatic brain injury.
Though it is all found abundantly in red meat, In one study of vegetarians, supplementation increased memory test scores by 50% and intelligence test scores by 20%.
Strengthen and Increases Muscles.
According to an in-depth study of the market’s most common dietary supplements, creatine stands out as the most efficient substance for gaining muscle.
Creatine boosts energy production, resulting in more effective exercises and quicker recoveries. It also aids in muscular growth, which means you can exercise with a heavier load. It benefits a lot of people, including sedentary individuals, senior citizens, and elite athletes.
Even the weightlifters who took creatine supplements had two- to three-times the muscle fibre growth of those who trained alone over 12 weeks.
Improves Athletic Performance.
Supplements containing creatine are widely used by athletes because there is proof that they aid in the performance of high-intensity workouts as it enables more energy production in the body hence more performance.
Strength and power during high-intensity activities like weightlifting and running are two areas where creatine supplementation has been shown to help enhance sports performance.
Even for a regular exerciser, its supplementation has found an improvement of up to 10-20% in activities like volleyball, weight training, ice hockey, jogging, and swimming by 10 to 20% in the average individual.
For Bone Health.
Creatine is an essential nutrient for supplying energy to muscle cells and other tissues.
Bone mass can be maintained or increased with its help, as it has been shown to halt bone loss and even strengthen and strengthen the existing bone. People who are at a higher risk for having osteoporosis, such as those who are under constant stress or have limited movement as a result of an accident or disease, may find this advantage especially helpful.
It’s worth noting that creatine intake won’t fix you, but it may help keep things from getting worse.
Several aspects of the eyes can benefit from creatine supplementation. Creatine’s primary advantage is the energy it provides the body, which in turn relieves strain on the eyes. It may also help prevent AMD, cataracts, and diabetic vision thanks to its antioxidant qualities. These are severe conditions that, if ignored, can severely damage one’s eyesight or even cause total blindness.
Support Heart Health.
Like many other advantages, supplementation has the potential to improve cardiac health in individuals with vascular issues. In one study, it was found that creatine increases the amount of energy available to the heart, reduces the frequency of arrhythmias and improves the overall function of the heart.
After taking creatine for eight weeks, both men and women saw their overall cholesterol decrease by over 5% and their LDL cholesterol drop by over 20%, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Science.
However, many other naturally occurring compounds have been found beneficial for heart health, and resveratrol is one of them. Learn more about it in our article here.
Great For Reproductive Health.
Supplementation has been found to be greatly effective for the sexual health of both genders.
Men: It boosts sperm quantity, motility, and shape, all of which contribute to male fertility.
Women: Enhancing egg quality and increasing blood supply to the uterus and ovaries are two of the many ways in which it benefits a woman’s reproductive health.
Use For Diabetes.
Creatine compounds may lower blood sugar after meals and over time by increasing insulin sensitivity and cellular glucose uptake.
Initial tests show that individuals newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes who take 3-6g of creatine for five days have reduced glucose levels after meals. 3g of creatine twice a day had an impact similar to 500mg of metformin twice a day.
In another study of 12 weeks, its supplementation combined with exercise improved glucose tolerance more so than exercise alone.
Sources of Creatine.
Creatine can be synthesised in the body, but it is also available in foods. While the body can make its own creatine, the quantity obtained from food sources is typically much smaller. Such as,
- Red Meat: Beef, pork, and lamb are good sources of creatine. They contain about 3-5 grams per kilogram.
- Fish: Tuna, salmon, and cod are also good sources of creatine. They contain about 4-5 grams per kilogram.
- Poultry: Chicken and turkey contain about 3-4 grams of creatine per kilogram.
- Other animal products: Dairy products such as milk (0.1 g/kg) and cheese, as well as eggs, also contain small amounts of creatine.
Most studies used raw meat for evaluation and 30% of creatine is destroyed when cooked and overcooking may completely destroy it. Another consideration is that the consumption1 kg (35.3 ounces) of meat is more than the weekly (28 ounces) recommended dosage of protein.
Creatine supplements could be necessary for certain groups, such as vegetarians, who do not get enough of the nutrient from their food alone.
That is why, its supplementation has always been suggested in the medical community. When ingested, is quickly absorbed into the circulation and transported to the muscles, where it is stored as phosphocreatine and creates ATP, the main energy source for muscular contraction.
It can be bought in the form of powder, pills, energy snacks, and drink mixtures at any pharmacy shop, grocery store, nutrition store, or online without a prescription.
There are a few types of creatine, but Creatine monohydrate has been the subject of the vast large quantities of studies involving the supplement. Creatine monohydrate is an affordable and efficient substance for most individuals who want to increase their levels. Creatine nitrate, kre-alkalyn (creatine buffered with bicarbonate or other alkaline substances), and creatine hydrochloride (creatine mixed with hydrochloric acid) are three other common variants currently.
General Guidelines For Consuming Creatine and Dosage
- Amount: When taken daily, 5-7 grams of creatine is sufficient for enhancing strength and muscle mass.
- Type: Creatine monohydrate, the simplest type, has been shown to have these effects.
- Timing: It works at any time of the day. Strength and muscle gain could be enhanced if taken immediately before or after exercise.
- Intake: It works best when consumed with a large volume of water. And high-glycemic (fast-digesting) carbohydrates, like sports drinks or gummy gummies, and fast-digesting protein, like whey protein, will optimize creatine uptake by muscle cells.
- Dosage: Creatine dosage recommendations are not universal but rather are condition- and goal-specific.
An initial loading dose of 20g for up to seven days is good when beginning supplementation, followed by a steady dose of 2.25-10g daily for up to 16 weeks.
Depending on your current levels, you may feel the energy boost anywhere from seven days to a month after starting taking supplements.
Creatine should be cycled off at regular intervals both to give the body a rest and to prevent the body from becoming immune to its effects. A typical creatine cycle consists of 8-12 weeks of use followed by a break of 4-6 weeks.
Safety of Creatine Supplementation.
Because the FDA does not supervise dietary supplements, other organizations such as the testing NSF and USP ensure that it is free of contaminants and includes the ingredients listed on the packaging.
But if you have ongoing health issues, consult your doctor or healthcare expert before taking creatine or other substances.
Side effects and Precautions.
There have been no reported side effects in animal trials that have lasted as long as four years.
- Even after 21 months of supplementation, one of the largest studies examined 52 blood indicators and found no negative impacts.
- Minor side effects such as diarrhoea and dehydration have been associated with its consumption. (1) (2)(3).
- According to a 2009 study, creatine intake raises DHT levels, which can cause hair loss. Those who are genetically prone to hair loss may want to hold off on trying this product.
- Creatine is not advised during pregnancy or while nursing due to a lack of evidence.
- While creatine is widely used by young adults, studies on children under the age of 18 are limited.
- Water accumulation in the muscles is a potential side effect of taking creatine supplements.
Choosing a supplement from a reliable source to ensure you’re supplementing with a high-quality product is recommended.
Drug interactions of Creatine.
Creatine is safe to use and does not react with any medications. However, creatine and coffee may have an adverse interaction by reducing athletic performance. The same goes for its intake of ephedra, as increases the likelihood of ischemic stroke.
For decades, people have utilized creatine as a substance to build muscle and stamina. It also enhances the quality of life, brain health, and exercise performance of older individuals. Vegetarians and elderly individuals, who may not consume enough creatine in their diet, may benefit from creatine supplements. So it’s definitely worth a try indeed!