Since the beginning of time, humankind has looked for ways to surpass their limits and boost the brain's potential. Hence, tons of research is being done to develop the ideal nootropics: substances designed to improve various aspects of the human brain, such as learning, attention, intelligence, and many more.
In today's highly competitive society, nootropics are gaining traction more than ever in the hopes of having the competitive edge to perform better in career, studies, and life.
No supplement has been studied a thousand times and proven its effectiveness like Creatine. This article will discuss how Creatine works in the body and how it can improve overall brain function.
How does creatine work?
You may have already heard of Creatine due to its popularity among the fitness community as a muscle-building supplement. However, countless researches have shown that Creatine is more of an energy-producing supplement than a muscle recovery powder.
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is the primary energy molecule used in your cells. During creating energy, ATP loses one phosphate molecule, becoming Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP).
In the form of phosphocreatine, Creatine donates a phosphate molecule to ADP. Turning it back into ATP so it can be used again to power up your cells. In essence, Creatine recharges the energy molecules in your body much quicker. This is why you can get more strength and energy in the gym.
Interestingly, the brain uses more energy than anything else in the body. The brain only makes up roughly 1 - 3% of our body weight. However, billions of neurons in the brain use 20% of the body’s molecular energy from ATP. Just like any cells in the body, neurons also use energy to function, and Creatine works so well in the brain by providing its necessary fuel at a faster rate.
The more efficient the brain cells produce energy, the better the brain function. So essentially, Creatine is like supercars in the busy brain highway delivering vital energy components to energy-demanding centers of the brain.
Creatine as a Nootropic
1. Improves strength
Creatine improves overall exercise performance. Adding Creatine to your training program can increase your strength by at least 8% compared to training alone. In a study by Bloomsburg University, creatine shows to improve bench press one-rep max by up to 43%.
These improvements in strength are greatly attributed to muscle’s increased capacity to produce more ATP. This results in more repetition before the muscles fatigue under tension leading to greater stimulus for building strength and power.
2. Enhances muscle growth
Many fitness enthusiasts reap the benefits of creatine on muscle hypertrophy due to its effects on cellular metabolism and water retention.
When you are on a creatine cycle, your body will always appear more prominent due to increased fluid retention within the muscle. In addition, as you progress in your training, the muscle fibers will grow bigger, adding more bulk to the muscle leading to a more aesthetic physique.
A 12-week study by the Pennsylvania State University concluded that adding creatine to resistance training significantly increases strength and muscle mass by up to 2-3 times more than a regular training routine.
In fact, the International Society of Sports Nutrition selected creatine as the single most effective compound for improving muscle growth.
3. Reduces mental fatigue
Creatine allows the cells to store more energy and be readily available if needed. This extra boost in energy within the neurons will enable you to be more productive and get more things done. It is similar to caffeine; only you are actually creating energy at the cellular level and do not have to deal with the occasional caffeine crash.
We all know that solving everyday tasks at work or school is mentally taxing and requires a lot of brain power. Fortunately, a study published by Neuroscience Research has found that Creatine reduces overall mental fatigue when subjects are asked to perform mathematical calculations due to increased oxygen usage within the brain.
4. Enhances memory
Dietary supplementation of Creatine also improves brain cell activities in the hippocampus, the area in the brain responsible for learning and memory. Because of its role in energy regeneration and neuroprotective mechanisms, Creatine enhances short-term memory recall among adults.
More importantly, a study from the UNT Health Science Center suggests that Creatine may be a potent deterrent for early stages of dementia and other age-related neurological diseases.
5. Improves intelligence
Creatine also demonstrates positive effects on intelligence as seen in a study following individuals who have increased their IQ test scores by a whopping 20% after six weeks of creatine supplementation. This highlights the importance of brain energy capacity in influencing brain performance and processing speed.
6. Reduces the effects of sleep deprivation
Creatine is an excellent compound to counteract the effects of sleep deprivation. It allows you to stay focused and active even on fewer hours of sleep due to its ability to restore and provide lasting energy both physically and mentally.
7. Improves reasoning skills
Numerous nootropics exist that can enhance concentration and memory. Creatine is one of the few substances that has a direct impact on both reasoning and intelligence as well. Memorizing information can be beneficial but having the increased capacity to make reasonable decisions and solve complex problems is more significant. Furthermore, reasoning skills can also translate to other areas of your life, such as creative and artistic pursuits.
Creatine monohydrate is the gold standard available in the market and is the most studied form of Creatine. There is no sufficient evidence that other forms of Creatine are better for dietary supplementation.
For muscle-building purposes, typical dosing is to take 20 grams of creatine daily for 1 week divided into 5 grams serving throughout the day. This is followed by a maintenance dosage of 2-5 grams of creatine daily.
The standard dosing of Creatine for nootropic purposes is 3 grams to 5 grams per day. High amounts of creatine intake may cause extra water retention and weight gain. If you are not physically active, starting at 3 grams of Creatine per day is recommended.
If you have an underlying medical condition, it is always best to consult your physician before taking Creatine supplements.
Creatine is a potent nootropic with decades of research backing its safety and effectiveness for human consumption. A healthy adult with no underlying condition can safely reap the benefits of creatine supplements.
Because of its ability to regenerate energy in the body and boost cellular metabolism, creatine significantly increases energy storage in the body. This effectively improves physical strength, promotes aesthetic physique as well as improvement in brain function.
Furthermore, creatine supplement shows promising results as a safe treatment for age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Dementia and Parkinson's Disease.
- Rawson, E. & Volek, J. (2003). Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance
- Volek, J., Duncan, N., Mazzetti, S., Staron, R., Putikian, M., Gomez, A., Pearson, D., Fink, W. & Kraemer, W. (1999). Performance and muscle fiber adaptation to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training
- Kreider, R., Kalman, D., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T., Wildman, R., Collins, R., Candow, D., Kleiner, S., Almada, A. & Lopez, H. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine
- Rae, C., Digney, A., McEwan, S. & Bates, T. (2019). Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind placebo-controlled, cross-over trial
- Avgerinos, K., Spyrou, N., Bougioukas, K. & Kapogiannis, D. (2018). Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials
- Roschel, H., Gualano, B., Ostojic, S. & Rawson, E. (2021). Creatine Supplementation and Brain Health
- McMorris, T., Mielcarz, G., Harris, R., Swain, J. & Howard, A. (2007). Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals
- Watanabe, A., Kato, N. & Kato, T. (2002). Effects of creatine on mental fatigue and cerebral hemoglobin oxygenation
- Snow, W., Cadonic, C., Cortes-Perez, C., Chowdhury, S., Djordjevic, J., Thomson, E., Bernstein, M., Suh, M., Fenryhough, P. & Albensi, B. (2018). Chronic dietary creatine enhances hippocampal-dependent spatial memory, bioenergetics, and levels of plasticity-related proteins associated with NF-kB
- Smith,R., Agharkar, A. & Gonzales, E. (2014). A review of creatine supplementation in age-related diseases: more than a supplement for athletes
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