Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center estimates that every year, Americans spend roughly 14 million dollars on creatine supplements.
Among those Americans are professional athletes, gym enthusiasts, and senior citizens.
You read that right. Seniors use creatine supplements.
As it turns out there are a lot of benefits of creatine supplements. Benefits range from the obvious “more power in the gym” to the not so obvious preventing of brain disease, improving mental capacity, and more.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that is produced in the liver. After production, creatine is then stored in a few places throughout your body for later use. Your creatine stores are in your muscles (about 95%) but trace amounts store in other areas of the body including your liver, kidneys and brain.
You can increase your creatine through foods like red meat, eggs, and fish . You can also get it through supplementation which brings us to the core question of this post –
What Exactly Are the Benefits of Creatine Supplements?
Benefits can vary and new studies are happening to better understand the impact creatine supplements. Here are 4 primary benefits you can expect.
4 Benefits of Creatine Supplements
1) Creatine Super-charges Your Work-outs
This benefit is a given and the one most associated with creatine use so we’ll get it out of the way now.
Creatine can improve your performance in the gym or when performing athletic activities.
One of creatine’s primary functions in the body is that it helps it produce higher levels of ATP. ATP (adenosine triphosphates) put simply, are your body’s energy currency.
When you have ATP available, you can do high impact and energy draining activities. When your ATP levels deplete your body hits its wall (figuratively speaking).
The body can maintain ATP levels during draining activities such as sprinting for about 8-10 seconds on its own. With the help of creatine, you can expect that number to improve by a few seconds giving you longer spurts of peak performance.
But the benefits of creatine supplements go beyond just providing more energy during your workout. Creatine can also lead to increased rates of muscle building and recovery.
On the subject of recovery, creatine supplements improve cell communication. This helps repair muscles damaged by workouts more rapidly. What that means for you is less time between working on muscle groups and more time in the gym.
Creatine also promotes the storage of water in your muscles and their cells which contributes to additional mass.
These benefits of creatine supplements are supported by a study where two groups were measured over the course of multiple workouts. One group was given creatine supplements and the other a placebo.
The creatine supplemented group saw 14% better performance while weightlifting. They also had an 8% greater increase in muscle strength in comparison to the placebo group.
2) Creatine Can Help Your Brain
Sure, creatine can help you achieve the body you’re looking for at the gym or to go harder while playing sports. But creatine can also help bolster your brain’s strength!
ATP is a key factor in promoting brain health and since creatine assists its production, the brain can benefit.
In tests conducted on animal subjects, it was concluded that the benefits of creatine supplements extended to the aiding of some brain diseases including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Motor Neuron disease
Beyond disease prevention, creatine supplements can help in your everyday cognitive abilities.
For starters, have you ever read something long and technical and after a while, your head started to hurt? That is a sign of mental exhaustion. Creatine can help with brain exhaustion the same way is helps with muscle exhaustion.
In a study conducted on vegetarian subjects (who are at a higher risk of creatine deficiency), two groups took a series of memory and intelligence tests. One of the groups had creatine supplements the other worked without supplementing.
The creatine supplemented group experienced better memory and overall intelligence than the non-supplemented group.
3) Creatine Can Make You Feel Great
A study published by the Society of Sports Nutrition showed that creatine can have significant effects on improving your mood.
While there is still debate on what exactly leads to creatine’s mood-altering abilities, it could have something to do with its effect on neurotransmitters.
Creatine can positively impact dopamine signaling, GABA, and serotonin production. The balance it consequently creates in the brain can then help increase feelings of well-being.
Creatine supplements can also help regulate blood sugar levels. This can make users feel less fatigued, increase activity and experience more happiness.
4) Creatine Can Help the Aging Process
The benefits that creatine can have on the body seem almost tailor-made for the issues that accompany aging.
Muscle degradation, lowered brain ability, heart issues, and reduction in bone mass are some of the problems found in the elderly. These are all things creatine supplements can aide.
A study showed that when looking at senior exercise groups, those who supplemented their routine with creatine saw improved ability in resistance training, muscle growth, cognitive awareness, and bone density issues.
The study ultimately concluded that given the inexpensiveness of creatine and the benefits offered, it is an optimal supplement for promoting healthy aging.
Are There Side Effects to Creatine Supplements?
Creatine is a safe supplement with no clinically proven serious side-effects in healthy adults.
Given that creatine promotes additional intake of water into your muscles, it’s important that users stay hydrated during use. Also, people with kidney issues should consult a doctor prior to use.
There are clear benefits of creatine supplements when used in proper moderation. These benefits go far beyond just increased gym performance. With creatine you can expect better brain health, increased mood and better aging. The best part is that creatine is one of the least expensive supplements you can buy.
If you’re thinking of supplementing, check out our guide on when to take creatine. We have more information for you on supplements, general fitness and everything in between. It’s all on our blog so have a look!