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Should I Take Creatine?

by: Michelle Sirmons MS, RDN, CSSD  |  May 6, 2024

In the world of performance enhancement, creatine has been considered a staple supplement for athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts alike. Due to its numerous benefits, creatine continues to be a go-to choice for individuals looking to maximize their training potential and achieve their fitness goals. However, recent research suggests that its benefits extend beyond the gym.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in various foods such as meat and fish, and it is also synthesized by the body from amino acids. It plays a crucial role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary energy source for the cells. One of the most well-established benefits of creatine supplementation is its ability to enhance strength and power output, but research is showing other benefits of creatine supplementation.

Let's Dive Into The Benefits of Creatine.

Improved Body Composition

In addition to improving strength and power, creatine supplementation has been found to promote muscle growth. By increasing the water content within muscle cells and stimulating protein synthesis, creatine helps to create an environment conducive to muscle hypertrophy which can improve body composition. Studies show that the combination of creatine and resistance training lead to better body composition, and greater fat loss, than resistance training alone. Creatine can be specifically beneficial for post-menopausal women who are often challenged with the loss of muscle mass and strength, often accompanied by an increase in body fat. Creatine supplementation may potentially mitigate the effects of sarcopenia and preserve muscle function in menopausal women. 

Improved Exercise Performance

Creatine has also been shown to enhance exercise performance across a variety of modalities, including sprinting, cycling, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). During high-intensity exercise the demand for ATP increases, and creatine helps replenish ATP stores which provides the muscles with an additional energy source.  Because energy production is sustained, the time to fatigue is delayed. This allows an individual to work harder, for longer periods of time, contributing to increased physiological adaptation.

Faster Recovery

Beyond its performance-enhancing effects, creatine supplementation may also aid in recovery following intense exercise. Research suggests that creatine can reduce muscle damage and inflammation, leading to faster recovery times between training sessions. Although creatine is still being researched for its antioxidant potential, it has been shown in studies to increase antioxidant activity.  This means that individuals supplementing with creatine may experience less soreness and stiffness, allowing them to bounce back quicker and train at a higher frequency.

Cognitive Benefits

While creatine is often associated with physical performance, emerging research indicates that it may also have cognitive benefits. Research suggests that creatine supplementation may enhance various aspects of cognitive performance, including memory, attention, and reasoning skills. This is attributed to creatine's role in supporting brain energy metabolism and neurotransmitter synthesis, making it of interest to individuals looking to optimize mental performance as well as physical.

Is It Safe?

One of the most appealing aspects of creatine supplementation is that numerous studies have demonstrated that creatine is safe and well-tolerated in healthy individuals. Studies have observed that a dose between 3-6g, per day, can be effective in achieving the benefits associated with creatine supplementation.

Although creatine holds promise for many individuals, consulting with a dietitian or healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen is crucial as everyone has unique needs. If you are curious how creatine may benefit you, consider working with one of our Functional Nutrition dietitians in a personalized, 1:1 setting. We create a comprehensive nutrition and supplement plan based on your personal goals, lifestyle, and needs.

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