Creatine is most commonly referred to as one of the top body building supplements to improve performance at the gym.
It is likely the most well-known and well-researched nutritional supplement in the sports performance world.
But it's uses are not limited to fitness! Creatine has many more beneficial uses that are often not spoken about, but here at Vitasave we want to give you the full picture of what creatine can do for you.
But first, let's talk about the basics. What is creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid found naturally in the human body, mainly in the muscles but also the brain. Creatine can help to improve energy production in the body by increasing ATP production as well as protein synthesis which explains why it is commonly used to increase muscle mass (1)(2).
As creatine is only found in animal based products, following a vegan or vegetarian diet can increase the need for creatine as well as intense exercise. This is when a supplement can help to boost the body's levels of this amino acid and provide a variety of benefits, which we will discuss below.
Benefits of creatine
Research now suggests that creatine may benefit brain health by acting as a neuroprotective and supporting cognitive processing and brain function (3).
Higher concentrations of creatine in the brain have been associated with improved neuropsychological performance, and supplementation with creatine has been shown to increase brain creatine and phosphocreatine (4).
Its antioxidant properties may also provide therapeutic effects in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases (7).
Bone Health (great for elderly)
Osteoporosis is a leading cause of disability among the aging population and is a major concern due to the increased risk of breaks and falls. Keeping bones strong and healthy is important at any age and it becomes an ever increasingly important factor to focus on as you age.
Combining resistance training exercises alongside creatine may be effective strategies in preserving bone mass. Creatine supplementation has the potential to benefit bone health by increasing aging muscle mass and muscle performance while decreasing the risk of falls and loss of bone mineral (8).
Mineral bone loss and bone fragility is also prevalent in postmenopausal women due to plummeting levels of estrogen.
A study found that creatine supplementation combined with resistance training increased bone strength among menopausal women (9).
Creatine is a natural supplement that displays potential for the aging population to reduce the risk of fractures and falls and improve overall bone strength.
Improve blood sugar & fight diabetes
Creatine has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and as a result it may help to improve conditions like diabetes (10).
A study found combining exercise with creatine supplementation resulted in better blood sugar control than exercise by itself, suggesting that creatine may have potential in controlling blood sugar and even the treatment of diabetes (13).
Strength / Endurance training
Creatine is known as one of the best nutritional supplements to gain strength and muscle (14). It helps to build muscle mass in several ways.
Creatine has been shown to increase IGF-1 inside of the muscle, an anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth (15). In addition to stimulating muscle protein synthesis, creatine can reduce muscle breakdown during exercise due to its anti-catabolic actions, helping you to retain greater muscle mass (16).
Creatine can support endurance to help you to workout for longer due to its role in ATP, or energy production. It has repeatedly been shown to increase strength and power with resistance training and improve aerobic exercise (17)(18).
When combined with exercise it is referred to as the most effective supplement for muscle gain with the research to back it up (19).
Doesn’t make you Yolked like BodyBuilding. com would have you believe
Contrary to popular belief, creatine won't make you look like the hulk. As we've mentioned, creatine can absolutely help you to increase muscle mass when combined with physical exercise however if you're concerned about looking too "big" or "bulky" you need not worry.
Creatine is not a steroid supplement, instead it can help you to more effectively perform your workouts and increase muscle strength.
Women also don't build muscle the same way that men do due to different hormone levels, however that is a whole other conversation.
If you are wanting to avoid getting too bulky, your nutrition and exercise regimen will also play a key role in determining your body composition.
Whether your goal is to be lean and toned or build to a bigger figure, creatine can help you to reach your fitness and body composition goals more effectively.