Creatine is among the most well-researched and effective supplements. It can help with exercise performance by rapidly producing energy during activity. Creatine may also provide cognitive benefits.
Creatine is a molecule produced in the body. It stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine releases energy to aid cellular function during stress. This effect causes strength increases after creatine supplementation, and can also benefit the brain, bones, muscles, and liver. Most of the benefits of creatine are a result of this mechanism.
Creatine monohydrate can be supplemented through a loading protocol. To start loading, take 0.3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day for 5–7 days, then follow with at least 0.03 g/kg/day either for three weeks (if cycling) or indefinitely (without additional loading phases).
1. Helps muscle cells produce more energy
Creatine supplements increase your muscles’ phosphocreatine stores Phosphocreatine aids the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the key molecule your cells use for energy and all basic life functions.
During exercise, ATP is broken down to produce energy. The rate of ATP resynthesis limits your ability to continually perform at maximum intensity, as you use ATP faster than you reproduce it.Creatine supplements increase your phosphocreatine stores, allowing you to produce more ATP energy to fuel your muscles during high-intensity exercise
This is the primary mechanism behind creatine’s performance-enhancing effects.
2. Supports many other functions in muscles
Creatine is a popular and effective supplement for adding muscle mass.
It can alter numerous cellular pathways that lead to new muscle growth. For example, it boosts the formation of proteins that create new muscle fibers
It can also raise levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone that promotes increases in muscle mass
What’s more, creatine supplements can increase the water content of your muscles. This is known as cell volumization and can quickly increase muscle size
Additionally, some research indicates that creatine decreases levels of myostatin, a molecule responsible for stunting muscle growth. Reducing myostatin can help you build muscle faster
3. Improves high-intensity exercise performance
Creatine’s direct role in ATP production means it can drastically improve high-intensity exercise performance.
Creatine improves numerous factors, including
Unlike supplements that only affect advanced athletes, creatine benefits you regardless of your fitness level.
4. Can improve brain function
Creatine plays an important role in brain health and function.
Research demonstrates that your brain requires a significant amount of ATP when performing difficult tasks.
Supplements can increase phosphocreatine stores in your brain to help it produce more ATP. Creatine may also aid brain function by increasing dopamine levels and mitochondrial function.
As meat is the best dietary source of creatine, vegetarians often have low levels. One study on creatine supplements in vegetarians found a 20–50% improvement in some memory and intelligence test scores.
For older individuals, supplementing with creatine for 2 weekssignificantly improved memory and recall ability
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