If we had to give an award for the most effective supplement on the market, creatine just might be the MVP. Just about everyone who is serious about their fitness goals has taken or is currently taking creatine. A vast amount of research has been conducted to investigate this supplement and the results are clear: Nearly 70% of all studies have found that creatine provides a significant improvement in athletic performance. For those who are not familiar with scientific research, 70% agreement in the literature is incredible, especially for sports supplements. In other words, if your goal is to be bigger, stronger, and faster you absolutely should be supplementing with creatine.

Those results alone are enough to merit high praise as a top ergogenic aid. However, it seems that the benefits of creatine may extend beyond the muscle and fitness realm. Research employing creatine that has ventured into the areas of cognitive function, bone health, glucose tolerance, and even methylation has returned some surprising results. It seems that the benefits of creatine may extend to many parts of the body. With that being said, let’s dive into the many benefits of creatine supplementation.


Refresher on Fitness Markers

Just in case you’re new to the whole supplement game, it’s worth reiterating the positive benefits that creatine has on our performance and body composition. For the most part, I would assume you are all interested in the strength adaptations that accompany creatine supplementation. Indeed, the effect is robust with most studies showing a 5-15% increase in both maximal strength and maximal work output during sets of maximal effort [9]. This means that creatine helps you become much stronger while also increasing the number of reps you can achieve during a heavy AMRAP set.

With respect to muscle gain, it is well known that creatine provides a quick boost to body mass when a loading strategy is employed. This is mostly due to the rapid increase in creatine stores within the muscle which leads to increased hydration within the muscle cells. However, the gains don’t stop there. Over the course of 4-12 weeks, subjects who consume creatine have shown muscle mass increases of 2-4 pounds more than placebo on average [5]. No matter where you are on the bodybuilding spectrum, an extra 2-4 pounds of muscle would certainly be a welcome results of simply dropping a scoop of powder into your protein shake each day.


Mental Muscle

Up until recently, creatine was type-casted (with good reason) as a performance enhancing supplement. However, some researchers began to look into other potential benefits that creatine supplementation might have. One such area that has shown promising results has been cognitive health and performance. One way that creatine helps to support our brains is by a similar mechanism to that which helps support our muscles. Just as it does in other parts of our body, creatine acts as a primary energy supply for the brain through the phosphocreatine system of ATP production. It has been shown that brain function can be preserved during times of poor blood supply (i.e poor oxygen supply) by increasing brain creatine stores through supplementation [12]. This is useful news for those who are at risk for stroke, or perhaps even for those in contact sports who are at risk for traumatic brain injury.

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