Creatine is one of the most powerful supplements for sports in the world. They have tested it in hundreds of human studies and are one of history’s most studied supplements. Using creatine in sports and bodybuilding is well known. It can increase muscle mass, strength, and exercise performance. What many people don’t know is that creatine has other effects on the human brain and body. For example, in some people, it can help fight neurological diseases and enhance brain function. Not only that, but it is also safe and does not have any serious downside. Here are 10 evidence-based power of creatine supplements.
1. Increases Muscle Fiber Size
Besides increasing muscle water content, when paired with exercise, creatine can improve the actual muscle fiber size. A study found that adding creatine increased muscle fiber growth by up to 300 percent compared to training alone.
Similar advantages existed in the muscle fiber types slow-twitch and fast-twitch. This study also found that total body mass gain doubled after 12 weeks, and that bench press and squat reps increased by 8 percent (1).
2. Can Increase Sprint Performance
In the above study, for 6 days, trained soccer players added 20 grams of creatine. 5-gram servings per day was the dosage. After only 6 days of loading with creatine, 15-meter sprint time was reduced. It also boosted recovery and helped jump performance in athletes.
3. Can Increase Muscle Mass
Creatine is the best supplement in the world when paired with weight training to add muscle mass and boost exercise performance. Such benefits arise by multiple processes, including changes in the muscle cell, hormonal changes, and other physiological changes in the body (3, 4).
4. Boosts Weight Training Performance
Creatine plays an important role in ATP output, which is important for short high-intensity exercises. It can also affect other biological processes that lead to the development of strength. After combining creatine supplements with weight training, this can increase in bench press repetitions.
Similar results have been verified by several other studies and analyses, with average changes ranging from 5% to 10%. Besides increased strength, this study found that, while bench pressing the supplement group increased the number of repetitions from 11 to 15. These higher reps play an important role in the development of extra muscles (5, 6).
5. Can Increase Phosphocreatine Stores
To deliver benefits, creatine supplements have to elevate phosphocreatine stores in your body. You can then use the excess phosphocreatine in your muscles, brain, and other organs to create extra ATP energy (7).
In contrast, greater phosphocreatine stores in the brain protect against neurological diseases. For those with lower than average stores, such as the elderly and vegetarians, it may also boost brain function.
Those who have higher levels of creatine stores in the body, however, may not receive a significant increase in these stores and thus see little or no benefit from creatine supplements.
6. Improves Cognitive Function
For those with low levels of creatine, the supplements may enhance brain function. This research tested vegetarians, who often have lower levels as they do not eat meat, which is creatine’s main dietary source (8).
As shown in the study above, on both memory and intelligence measures, vegetarians taking the supplement scored higher. Studies have shown fewer or no additional benefits when conducted in adults with normal creatine levels (9).
7. Decreases Cognitive Decline in Older People
Elderly participants scored higher after only 2 weeks of creatine supplementation on long-term memory tests. They also scored higher on memory recall and intelligence tests (13).
8. Can Slow the Progression of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a reduction in a neurotransmitter named dopamine, which has many main brain functions. A study has shown that creatine supplements delay Parkinson’s disease progression by slowing down the decrease of dopamine levels (14).
As you can see, this above mouse study found a drastic decline in dopamine levels in the non-supplement group, whereas the creatine group had only modest reductions.
While these results are impressive, there is a need for more human research to confirm the long-term effects of creatine on Parkinson’s disease.
9. May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
While research is still in its infancy on this benefit, this study suggests that creatine can lower blood sugar levels (15).
The above study, combined with aerobic exercise, tested the use of creatine.
They carried it out in healthy individuals, suggesting a benefit for the general population and not just for diabetics.
As shown in that study, more than aerobic training alone, creatine helped improve the blood sugar response to a high-carb meal.
10. May Reduces the Side Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Creatine can help with concussion recovery and brain injury. Following 6 months of creatine supplementation, this research examined children with traumatic brain injury. Fatigue, dizziness, and headaches have been reduced (16).
This advantage may be because of an increase in phosphocreatine stores in the brain and the preservation of normal levels of ATP, both of which decrease after a traumatic brain injury.
Although impressive, there is a need for further studies to support creatine use as a treatment for traumatic brain injuries.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, creatine is a powerful supplement for the performance of exercise and muscle growth. Creatine is without a doubt one of the most effective supplements on the planet, backed by over a century of research.
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