Creatine is widely used by athletes to gain bursts of energy and build muscle. We gave you a brief overview of creatine in our last article. Today, we are going to go deep into the benefits of creatine and how it affects your health.
The idea is to make you informed so that you can make an informed decision.
First, we will study the athletic performance and muscle building strengths of creatine.
1. Strength Building and Athletic Performance
Remember, we discussed how ATP produces energy for your muscles? That is the whole secret behind the energy boost provided by creatine supplements– and it has a big impact on weight lifting.
When you exercise, you burn off your ATP. This is why you feel tired after working out. Creatine supplements increase your ATP levels and boost your strength. It increases phosphocreatine amount in your muscles and helps form more ATP.
As a result, you get the energy to give your best! A review of 22 studies found creatine to increase strength by 10% compared to people who didn’t take it.
Note that all cells in our body use ATP for energy. But creatine is effective only on muscles and helps boost your performance for short, high-intensity exercises.
Creatine helps you produce more ATP than you deplete, giving you strength and power.
Participants of various studies also experienced an improvement in-
- Sprint performance
- Ballistic power
- Less fatigue
- Muscle strength
One good thing about creatine, it provides the same result to everyone. You don’t need to be an advanced athlete.
Creatine works best with heavy-resistance training. In a study, 19 men taking creatine supplements experienced an improvement in physical performance and weight-lifting capacity. In another study involving 15 women, creatine enhanced power and resisted muscle fatigue.
So one of the main benefits of creatine is improved strength and power.
2. Muscle Building and Healing
Science has proved creatine to be one of the best muscle-building supplements. You can actually add mass and fiber to your muscles and improve muscle appearance.
Some people avoid creatine as it’s known to increase water content in their muscles. But what happens with creatine hydrochloride only. You can choose a safer alternative, creatine monohydrate, to develop muscle mass.
Also, there is evidence that creatine actually builds muscles over long periods. It enhances muscle growth by facilitating key biological pathways and boosting your workouts.
Let’s take a look at some more research to confirm the muscle-building benefits of creatine-
In a study, creatine and training added 2 kg more muscle mass than the control group.
The researchers concluded that participants taking creatine gained more muscle mass compared to those who didn’t.
The study also found creatine to be the best supplement, among others!
Creatine also helps you build muscles by lowering your myostatin that hinders muscle growth. In a study of 27 men, creatine lowered myostatin and facilitated muscle growth in power athletes. The best of all, creatine helps build free-fat lean mass!
Muscle Growth in the Elderly
Our muscles begin to break down as we age. Elderly people taking creatine supplements noticed an improvement in endurance, delay in muscle wasting, and more strength.
Researchers combined resistance training with creatine supplements and conducted a trial on 30 older adults. The results?
- Increase in lean tissue mass
- Improvement in leg strength
- Higher endurance
- More power
46 older men took creatine coupled with training in two more studies. They experienced an increase in muscle strength, fat-free mass, and weight.
Creatine can go a long way to heal muscles and keep fatigued at bay. Various studies found creatine to –
- Improve recovery of muscles
- Reduce inflammation and inflammation markers
- Lower markers of muscle damage
- Reduce fatigue
Creatine also works fast. You can increase muscle size and lean body weight by taking creatine for 5 to 7 days.
3. Improves Cognitive Functions
Your brain needs a healthy dose of creatine to function. So creatine supplements, in fact, can improve your brain performance! You can also perform difficult tasks more effectively with the help of creatine.
Just like your muscles, creatine increases phosphocreatine stores in your brain.
So your brain produces more ATP, which facilitates cognition. Creatine also increases mitochondria function and dopamine levels for better brain functions.
Athletes can also benefit from taking creatine. Creatine improves mood and cognitive skills in sleep-deprived rugby players, according to researchers.
Another study found creatine to improve complex cognitive skills in sleep-deprived adults who underwent moderate-intensity exercise.
The studies imply that creatine can be useful for overcoming stressors caused by sleep deprivation and sleeping imbalances. Athletes often have circadian rhythm imbalances and can reverse brain fog and brain fatigue by taking creatine.
Creatine even improves cognition in vegetarians, who may have lower creatine levels as they don’t eat fish or meat.
Vegetarians who took creatine experienced-
- Improvement in processing speed
- Enhanced working memory
- Increase in intelligence
The cognition benefits of creatine are also effective for older adults. A dose of 20g per day improved cognition performance in a study with older adults. The research found creatine to boost brain functions and fight neurological diseases.
4. A Healthy Heart
The benefits of creatine may include a healthy heart, according to some evidence.
A dose of 20g of creatine per day was found to lower spiked LDL, cholesterol, and triglycerides levels.
This means creatine can maintain healthy blood lipid levels to prevent heart attacks. It can also stop the narrowing of blood vessels and promote heart health.
Creatine can also lower the risks of heart attacks by lowering high homocysteine levels. In a study, creatine proved more effective in lowering homocysteine levels in healthy adults compared to multivitamins.
Researchers, however, were not able to replicate the results in another trial.
Evidence suggests creatine can help people with heart failure lead a better lifestyle. As creatine boosts energy, patients can exercise more and for longer. They don’t get fatigued easily, which is the most common symptom of heart failure.
Researchers even found creatine to promote muscle strength and increase body weight in heart failure patients. All it took was short-term creatine supplementation along with medication.
5. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Creatine lowered blood sugar levels in human and animal studies. It works by enhancing the function of GLUT4, a molecule that transports blood sugar to your muscles. Creatine lowered blood sugar levels in many studies-
Do note that creatine doesn’t impact your insulin sensitivity or insulin levels. Some researchers believe creatine to be effective in fighting diabetes based on animal studies. So far, no study has been conducted on humans and the effect of creatine on diabetes.
6. May Alleviate Tiredness and Fatigue
Research suggests creatine may lower fatigue and tiredness. Patients with traumatic brain injury experienced a 50% reduction in dizziness when they took creatine supplements. The control group didn’t experience any changes.
Also, 10% of the group taking supplements felt fatigued, while it was 80% for the control group.
Creatine can reduce fatigue and tiredness that results from sleep deprivation and increase energy levels. It shows the same efficacy for fatigue resulting from intense exercising.
The secret to it all- the energy-boosting benefits of creatine!
7. Counters the Effects of Parkinson’s Disease
People with Parkinson’s Disease have a difficult life. The dopamine in patient’s brains decreases to an alarmingly low level, causing the death of brain cells. As a result, a patient faces severe symptoms like-
- Loss of muscle function
- Speech impairments
- Poor fitness
- Low muscle mass
- Low muscle strength
Many patients weight training and resistance training to regain muscle strength and muscle mass. And this is where the benefits of creatine come into use! Creatine coupled with proper exercise can-
- Improve strength and daily functions
- Enhance the benefits of training
- Fight fatigue and tiredness
To achieve the above results, you have to use a high creatine loading phase and then maintain a lower dose. You can read our post on creatine doses for more information.
Creatine has shown a beneficial effect on mice with Parkinson’s. In one study, it prevented 90% of the reduction in dopamine levels.
But we need more clinical trials to isolate the effects of creatine on symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
8. May Help in Some Neurological Diseases
Many neurological diseases rob the store of phosphocreatine in your brain. As creatine increases phosphocreatine, it may counter the effects and symptoms of various neurological disorders like-
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Ischemic strokes
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Most studies on neurological diseases revolve around animals like mice.
In one study, mice with Huntington’s disease gained back 72% of their pre-disease phosphocreatine stores by taking creatine.
The same results were visible only in 26% mice of the control group. Creatine also lowered cell death and improved the daily functions of mice in the same study.
Creatine may also help patients with ALS, a disease that targets essential motor neurons.
Research show creatine to improve survival rate, motor functions, and lower muscle loss in mice with ALS.
9. May Promote Bone Health
Creatine may aid in bone-building by facilitating the functioning of bone growth factors. One way creatine promotes bone health is through mineralization.
Post-menopausal women taking creatine with strength training experienced an improvement in the quality of life. The symptoms associated with knee osteoarthritis also declined. Participants received 20 grams creatine each day during the loading phase and switched to 5 grams during the maintenance phase.
10. May Boost Testosterone Levels
Testosterone maintains heart health, muscles, strengthens bones, improves mood and libido, and even impacts spatial abilities.
A few research has tested the relationship between creatine and testosterone levels. In one study, both amateurs and pro athletes recorded increased testosterone levels after creatine supplementation.
Creatine also boosted testosterone levels in sleep-deprived athletes and sprint swimmers. But creatine didn’t have the same effect on healthy college rugby or football players.
We need more research on the subject to tie creatine with testosterone increase.
Creatine not only boosts your energy and strength but also promotes your health. The benefits of creatine include a healthy heart, increased muscle mass, better cognitive functions, protection from diseases, and more!
If you are considering taking creatine supplements, you can do so with complete peace of mind. It’s one of the safest and most studied supplements in the whole world with proven benefits.