Top 11 Creatine Benefits – Bodybuilding and Health

Creatine is an organic compound composed of three amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. It occurs naturally in the body, mostly in skeletal muscle, where it serves as an energy reservoir. Creatine is involved in energy metabolism, helping to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

ATP is the body’s primary source of energy according to Suguru Saito, Division of Virology, Department of Infection and Immunology, Jichi Medical University.

Creatine aids in body building by increasing the energy level in muscle cells. This added energy reduces fatigue allowing longer muscle contraction aiding in muscle growth.

According to a study by the School of Physical Education and Sport, University of Sao Paulo, subject saw an increase in muscle phosphorylcreatine after creatine supplementation of 20 g/day for 10 days.

Creatine provides numerous health benefits including improving brain performance. The ATP availability is increased enhancing the brain ability to process information. A paper authored by Brian D. Roy, Department of Kinesiology, Brock University, reports improved forward number recall, long-term memory in a test group that had consumed 20 g/day of creatine for 7 days.

With creatine supplementation, questions arise regarding the possible side effects, and it is safe to take creatine.

We will outline the top eleven benefits of creatine.

1. Adds Muscle Mass

Muscle mass is the physical amount of muscle in an organism, typically determined through various measurements such as weight and volume. It is typically an indication of physical strength and fitness.

Creatine supplies energy to the cells via increasing the amount of ATP. This added energy when combined with resistance training on a regular basis can help to build muscle mass. A paper by the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale revealed that male weightlifters on creatine supplementation for 8 weeks, had an increased one repetition maximum of 20-25 percent for the leg press.

Creatine increases muscle mass in the elderly which reduces the speed of the progression of sarcopenia. A review paper by the Department of Exercise Science, Bloomberg University, states that creatine supplementation of 2-3 g/d for 4 to 6 weeks, can increase the phosphocreatine and the intramuscular creatine levels by 20 percent. These augmentations enhance the expression of muscle growth factors.

Besides effecting muscle mass, creatine has been known to aid in fat burning.

2. Helps with Weight Loss

Weight loss is the reduction of stored body fat, muscle, and water that results in a decrease in body weight.

Creatine helps with weight loss by storing more energy in the adipocyte sites, increasing fat tissue metabolism, and affecting triglyceride synthesis in multiple types of cells. A review paper in the Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology stated that a group of adults over 50 years of age, had a 0.55% decrease in body fat percentage compared to the placebo group.

Weight loss due to creatine reduces energy extended because of a lower body weight.

3. Boosts Energy Level

Energy level is the capacity to perform vigorous activity. The main source of energy in cells is adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

Creatine boosts energy level by storing phosphocreatine in skeletal muscle that is converted into ATP. A review paper in the Journal of Science & Sports states that there are studies outlining that creatine monohydrate supplementation, which is a solution 88% creatine bound with 12% water, increases anerobic exercise capacity and training volume due to an augmentation in muscle creatine and phosphocreatine.

Having a higher anerobic exercise capacity due to an increase in energy is powerful when it is combined with a higher muscle endurance. Muscles endure more intense workout while on creatine supplementation.

4. Enhances Muscle Endurance

Muscle endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to perform repeated contractions over a period of time without becoming fatigued. This ability is due to the body’s ability to use oxygen, glycogen, glucose, and fatty acids to generate energy to sustain muscle contractions according to paper published by the Mayo Clinic Health System.

Creatine enhances muscle endurance by providing energy through an increase in ATP. Creatine improves the endurance level of muscle contractions by reducing lactic acid production in muscles during workouts. A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Nutrition in 2020 on a group of rowers that were on a daily intake of 20g of creatine over 4 days, showed a lactic acid decreased level of 6.88 mmol/L compared to the placebo group that had an average level of 9.00 mmol/L.

Fatigue is related to the term endurance, creatine studies state that this tiredness is lessoned by creatine supplementation.

5. Lowers Fatigue

Fatigue is a state of physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion that is caused by prolonged mental or physical activity. The University of Rochester, Medical Center defines fatigue as feeling exhausted, tired, and weak.

Creatine supplementation lowers fatigue by increasing the plasma creatine concentration and augmenting resistance to fatigue. A study by the Department of Exercise Sciences, Bloomberg University states that a study group of 20 received a creatine supplementation of 0.03g/KG for 6 weeks expressed on average a 6.25% increase in resistant to fatigue during sets. While the placebo supplemented participants stated no increase in resistance to fatigue.

If someone is less tired during workouts, then they will grow muscle more easily than someone that is exhausted. Exhaustion can also lower mental concentration levels which hinders performance even more.

6. Improves Brain Performance

Brain performance is the ability of the brain to receive, process, store, and retrieve information, as well as to complete complex tasks.

Creatine supplementation improves brain performance by increasing brain creatine storage which increasing memory ability. A study published in the Nutrition Reviews Journal stated that memory ability improved in test groups of people 66-76 years of age that were on creatine supplementation.

Creatine enhances not only brain performance in test individuals, but it may aid in lessoning depression.

7. Reduces Depression

Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest, and changes in appetite, energy level, and sleep patterns. Depression can interfere with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities and can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, including fatigue, feelings of worthlessness according to Harvard Medical School.

Creatine monohydrate seems to aid in resistant depression. A group of 10 patients were administered 3-5 g/day or creatine in a design that was open-ended. The preliminary results suggest a benefit to unipolar depression and possibly as method to force a manic switch in bipolar depression patients. The study was published in the Bipolar Disorders Journal.

8. Aids Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that alternate between periods of mania and depression. Treatment usually includes psychotherapy and medication according to Holly A. Swartz of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Creatine aids bipolar disorder by reducing depression. A 4-week study published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. had shown improvement in depression scores with creatine supplementation of 3 to 5 g/day. It has been stated that further investigation is needed for this therapeutic strategy.

Medications for bipolar disorder involving supplementation need to be followed closely. For instance, medications such as clozapine and olanzapine have been known to cause weight gain which can aggravate sugar levels in diabetes.

9. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is the level of glucose that is present in the blood. Glucose is a simple sugar that provides energy to the body. Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin which is produced in the pancreas. The insulin controls the amount of glucose that can enter the cells providing energy.

Dr Biljana Novkovic, research scientist, states that a normal fasting blood sugar level is 3.9-6.9 mmol/L or 70-125 mg/dL. For non-diabetics, a blood sugar level, called hypoglycemia is below 70 mg/dL.

Creatine does not directly reduce blood sugar levels, but it may cause an increase in insulin sensitivity as reported by Applied Physiology & Nutrition Research Group, School of Medicine, University of Sao Paulo. This enhanced insulin sensitivity may aid in controlling sugar levels especially for those suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Muscle cramping is sometimes caused by type 2 diabetes. Creatine may help the sugar levels for type 2 diabetics along with reducing the instances of muscle spasms.

10. Reduces Muscle Cramp Episodes

 Muscle cramps are involuntary, painful, continuous contractions of skeletal muscles. They are caused by sustained muscle contractions or overexertion, resulting in a shortened muscle and an inability to relax it.

Creatine reduces muscle cramp episodes by increasing ATP production which creates more efficient muscle contractions. A study in the Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation Journal states that a test group had a 60% reduction in incidents of muscle contractions due to creatine supplementation 12 mg of creatine monohydrate.

The patients were having muscle cramps during haemodialysis. The patients within the creatine supplementation group had cramps 6.2 times during haemodialysis before the study, and after 4 weeks in the study, the cramping happened on average 2.6 times.

Muscle cramps are debilitating, especially if they are around the rib cage, making sufferers believe that they are experienced heart problems.

11. Supports Heart Health

Heart health is the ability of the heart to function optimally and efficiently. Factors that affect heart health include diet, exercise, lifestyle choices, and genetic factors.

Creatine supports heart health by increasing the efficiency of the mitochondria, which powers the heart cells creating stronger heart muscle contractions. Creatine can reduce oxidative stress in the heart muscle protecting it from damage. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported a reduction in the lipoperoxidation in the heart plasma in a rat test group.

Many benefits such as an improve heart functioning have been expressed, it is prudent to analyze the side effects of creatine.

What are the Side Effects of Taking Creatine?

The side effects of taking creatine are:

weight gain

muscle cramps

nausea

diarrhea

dehydration

dizziness

headaches

bloating

There is a rare case of a bodybuilder taking a creatine ethyl ester supplement and then developing a raised serum creatinine level according to a paper written by Lydia Williamson from the Manchester Medical School, University of Manchester. Having a high creatinine level suggests that the kidney is not functioning correctly.

Some pregnant women on creatine supplementation wonder if there will be any side effects faced by their unborn child.

Can you Breastfeed While on Creatine?

Breastfeeding is the process of a mother providing her infant with milk from her breasts. It is a natural and healthy way of providing nutrition and immunity for an infant and is recommended by medical experts.

You should not breastfeed while on creatine. The creatine is transferred to the baby via the milk by the mother. This increase in creatinine level for the baby may change the estimations of the functioning level of the kidney.

Is Creatine Safe to Take?

Creatine is safe to take, although long term use has not be fully studied. The potential side effects are not serious according to Martina Antosova, Head of Department of Biomedical Research and Clinical Studies, University Hospital Martin.

Taking creatine along with another supplement is another question that many have, such as taking BCCA at the same time.

Can you take Creatine with BCAA?

You can take creatine with BCAA. BCAA will help to prevent muscle protein breakdown, and creatine will increase your strength and muscle size.

What is common between creatine and hmb?

Muscle Building: Both creatine and HMB have been shown to enhance muscle growth and strength. Creatine increases the production of ATP, the primary source of energy for muscle contractions, leading to improved exercise performance and muscle protein synthesis. HMB helps reduce muscle protein breakdown, allowing for more efficient muscle building.