Creatine: Enhancing Athletic Prowess and Cognitive Function

2 mins read

What is Creatine and what does it do?

Creatine monohydrate, commonly referred to as simply “creatine,” is an amino acid produced by humans and other mammals, as well as birds and fish. When consumed or produced in the body, creatine monohydrate is transported to the muscle where it is converted to creatine phosphate. Creatine phosphate serves as a potent energy source in the brain and muscles. During high-intensity, short-duration activities, creatine phosphate is the primary energy source used by the muscles.

What are good sources of creatine?

Humans make a small amount of creatine each day from protein in the diet. There are also certain foods like red meat and fish that naturally contain a small amount creatine. Most people looking to increase their creatine intake turn to creatine supplements which come in powder form and capsule form.

Are creatine supplements safe?

According to the FDA, creatine monohydrate is generally recognized as safe when taken at recommended doses. In fact, creatine is one of the most studied supplements in the scientific community that might benefit those who need short bursts of speed or increased muscle strength, such as sprinters and weight lifters.

As is the case with all supplements, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning a creatine regimen.

How much creatine should I take?

A typical daily recommendation for creatine is 3-5 g per day.

What are the benefits of taking creatine?

  • Brain health – Preliminary research suggests that creatine supplementation might offer neuroprotective benefits, potentially helping counteract age-related declines in cognitive function and neurodegenerative diseases. Some studies have investigated its potential benefits in conditions like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, though more research is needed.
  • Athletic performance – Creatine can improve performance in short-duration, high-intensity activities like weightlifting, sprinting, and jumping.
  • Muscle mass – Along with resistance training, creatine supplementation has been linked to an increase in muscle mass, partly due to an increase in water content within the muscle cells and partly due to actual muscle tissue growth.

Personal Experience

I have been a long-time user of creatine supplements. I will often take creatine supplements for months on end and when I do I notice a significant increase in my workout stamina and muscle recovery. I have tried a variety of brands before, both powder and capsule forms. I tend to stay away from powders because I don’t like the taste of creatine. In the last few weeks, I started taking Creatine Monohydrate Capsules by Optimum Nutrition. Notably, I experienced no bloating or digestive discomfort, issues I’ve encountered with some brands. My lifts have improved, and my overall energy in the gym feels more sustained. My results were nothing out of this world but this is one of the better creatine supplements I’ve tried.

Bottom Line

Creatine supplements are well researched, generally safe to use, and can be an easy way to boost athletic performance.

References

  1. Candow, D.G., Forbes, S.C., Ostojic, S.M. et al. “Heads Up” for Creatine Supplementation and its Potential Applications for Brain Health and Function. Sports Med. 2023. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-023-01870-9
  2. Carlson S. GRAS Notice No GRN 931; Creatine Monohydrate. Food and Drug Administration. March 5, 2020. Accessed October 24, 2023. https://www.fda.gov/media/143525/download
  3. Creatine. Mayo Clinic. August 9, 2023. Accessed October 24, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-creatine/art-20347591
  4. Naderi A, de Oliveira EP, Ziegenfuss TN, Willems MT. Timing, Optimal Dose and Intake Duration of Dietary Supplements with Evidence-Based Use in Sports Nutrition. J Exerc Nutrition Biochem. 2016;20(4):1-12. doi:10.20463/jenb.2016.0031
  5. TikTok Trend Alert: How Creatine Can Improve Your Workout. Cleveland Clinic. January 25, 2023. Accessed October 24, 2023. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-does-creatine-do/
  6. Wax B, Kerksick CM, Jagim AR, Mayo JJ, Lyons BC, Kreider RB. Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations. Nutrients. 2021 Jun 2;13(6):1915. doi: 10.3390/nu13061915.
  7. Wu SH, Chen KL, Hsu C, Chen HC, Chen JY, Yu SY, Shiu YJ. Creatine Supplementation for Muscle Growth: A Scoping Review of Randomized Clinical Trials from 2012 to 2021. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 16;14(6):1255. doi: 10.3390/nu14061255.

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