6 Ways Creatine Improves Your Well-Being, From Muscle Gains to Brain Function
Creatine is an organic compound that your body (mostly your liver) produces and is stored in your muscles and brain. It gets converted into phosphocreatine, a molecule that gets used up as ATP, or energy.
Or in simpler words: creatine gives you energy, which can be incredibly helpful during workouts.
But maybe you already knew that. You may know what it is and how it works, but what’s really puzzling you is whether the advertised benefits actually work. And maybe you’re wondering if creatine has other benefits besides energy and muscle building? (spoiler alert: yes it does!).
In this article, we share 5 of the biggest benefits of creatine, all backed with scientific evidence so you can see for yourself how they work.
1: Creatine Boosts Energy During Exercise
As mentioned above, creatine “gives you energy.” But what does that mean exactly?
Well, your body uses ATP for energy. Our bodies use molecules such as lipids and turns them into the energy source ATP, using a specific pathway. But this pathway requires oxygen. During exercise, your body doesn’t have access to as much oxygen and utilizes creatine for energy.
The creatine gets converted into phosphocreatine, which then eventually gets converted into ATP. In a way, creatine = energy during exercise. So, if you have more creatine, your body will have more energy during exercise and will be less likely to fatigue.
Makes sense right? Having more energy will allow you to work out for longer, as your body will be able to exert itself for longer periods of time.
2: Creatine Helps in the Muscle Building Process
There are a few reasons why creatine helps with building muscle, let’s cover the most obvious one first. We just discussed how creatine gives you energy allowing you to work out for longer. Exercising for longer may allow you to focus on muscle building exercises for longer.
Another way it aids in the muscle-building process is by holding onto water. Creatine increases water retention in the muscles (as well as all over the body) making your muscles bigger. Over time, creatine will increase lean muscle mass too.
Last but certainly not the least, creatine boosts the nitrogen balance. Nitrogen is an important component of the muscle-building process. Being deficient in it can hurt the muscle-building process. Additionally, creatine has been shown to increase muscle strength. One study found that those individuals that took creatine supplementation had significantly increased muscle strength.
3: Testosterone Boosts from Creatine
This compound also boosts testosterone levels. One study found that participants who took a creatine supplement alongside a 10 week resistance training program had a significant increase of testosterone levels.
4: Improves cognitive functioning
Alright, so by now you get the main point: creatine helps build your endurance and muscle mass. But did you know that creatine also has non-exercise related benefits, one of them being that it can improve cognitive functioning?
So here’s the thing: creatine is a compound made of amino acids, right? But your muscles aren’t the only part of your body that uses the amino acids creatine is made up of or creatine itself. Specifically, creatine is used by the brain. In fact, creatine is an essential brain compound. It protects the nervous system and improves energy supply in the brain. This is one way that researchers hypothesize creatine helps improve cognitive functioning.
One study investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive functioning. They tested a variety of cognitive tasks from short term memory to attention. The researchers found that creatine does significantly improve the cognitive functioning of tasks such as short term memory. In fact, some research also suggests that creatine is most effective when there is a major stressor such as lack of oxygen or sleep. Some studies even suggest that it can help the recovery process during traumatic brain injuries.
5: Improves Lipid Profile
Building muscle, boosting testosterone, boosting your brainpower…what’s next? Is there anything this supplement can’t do?? Well, while creatine certainly can’t do everything, it does seem to have an effect on your lipid profile including cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
One study found that creatine supplementation in men and women led to a decrease in triglyceride levels. Other research has found that creatine can help improve cholesterol levels, but it is not clear how it affects specific cholesterols such as HDL and LDL.
This is still an unclear and controversial topic with some studies suggesting that there may not be a major effect of creatine on cholesterol and lipid profiles. However, it seems that this benefit or effect depends on the individual.
All in all, creatine has such vast benefits because it’s made up of amino acids, which are the absolute essential building blocks of protein. And amino acids and/or protein are needed by every part of your body…not just for muscle mass. Let’s not forget that creatine is essential (yes, essential) to some parts of your body such as your brain.
So where do you get creatine from? While, yes, this compound is found in supplement form, it also exists in the foods you already eat. Creatine is found in animal protein sources such as beef, chicken, milk. But because it’s found in such small doses, many athletes or gym goers prefer taking it as a supplement to get the right dose for the benefits. Find out which one of Creatine Monohydrate or Creatine Hydrochloride is the right choice for you!
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