Creatine monohydrate, the most studied supplement on the planet for the past 25 years, is having a moment. Once thought to be only beneficial for bodybuilders, it’s become apparent that creatine can benefit everyone. This includes women, elderly people, vegans and vegetarians (super important here), and especially those who work out.
Creatine is essential for every human being, and the body produces it using three amino acids: glycine, methionine, and arginine. It’s available in fish, eggs and meat. Typically, the human body has the ability to produce it for daily activities; however, for individuals who engage in physical activity, their muscles use creatine more rapidly to fuel their activity.
Over 500 studies have supported creatine as a safe and effective way of providing health benefits in addition to energy and muscle growth. Here are some of the top health benefits of supplementing with creatine:
1. Improves muscle mass
Creatine supplementation helps to increase muscle mass by initially drawing water into your muscle cells. Creatine has been found to alter some cellular pathways to promote protein concentration to develop new muscle fibers. Studies have also indicated that when combined with strength training, creatine can increase myonuclei concentrations and satellite cell numbers in the skeletal muscles for enhanced muscle growth. This is particularly important for those of us in the 40+ age group. Creatine can help combat the rate of age-related muscle loss.
2. Improves athletic performance
Creatine has been shown to support training when used in sports-related activities and, in fact, the International Society of Sport has also noted that creatine is one of the most effective sports supplements to enhance exercise capacity. Simply put: it can help you train harder.
3. Boosts cognitive abilities
Studies have shown that creatine supplementation enhances brain health and improves cognitive abilities among humans and may even protect against traumatic brain injury. In addition, it’s been studied to improve diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, ALS and ischemic stroke.
4. Faster recovery following workouts
Many studies have indicated that creatine may speed up recovery following eccentrically-induced muscle damage from exercise.
5. Fights fatigue/tiredness
In a six-month study of people with traumatic brain injury, those who took creatine experienced a 50% reduction in dizziness, compared with those who did not supplement. And just 10% of people in the supplement group experienced fatigue, compared with 80% in the control group. Yet another study showed that creatine reduced fatigue and increased energy during sleep deprivation. Lastly, creatine was shown to decrease fatigue in athletes during a cycling test.
How to use Creatine Monohydrate
If you plan to use creatine for its performance and muscle-building benefits, 5 grams per day is the recommended dose.
In terms of cognition, 10 grams has been suggested.
No loading phase is needed (meaning you don’t have to take larger doses at first) and you don’t have to cycle on and off.
Hydration is important in order to avoid gastric trouble and dehydration. Good news: we carry Creatine + Hydrate by Cerus Performance at the gym and it also contains electrolytes and coconut water powder! Not only does it provide hydration, but the sodium in the electrolyte blend is thought to increase the rate at which creatine is absorbed – this translates to getting a “pump” during workouts.
You can take creatine supplements any time of the day, every day (even rest days).
One word of caution: while creatine is safe, it is recommended that you consult your physician if you’ve ever been diagnosed with kidney issues.
Obviously, no one supplement is the end-all, be-all. Training, sleep and nutrition are your foundation. But, if you’re pretty dialed in, creatine can help give you an edge in many ways.