Anyone who has spent any amount of time in a gym has heard people talk about the number one performance enhancing supplement of all time. No, not steroids (although we have heard they are pretty awesome), but creatine. Creatine monohydrate has been the most studied supplement ever, and not just for athletic performance studies. They have studied its usefulness in treating heart disease, cancer, muscular dystrophy, COPD, Parkinson's, ALS, and other types of diseases and disorders. With all of the research, creatine has been shown to be, without a doubt, the most beneficial supplement that has ever hit the supplement store shelves. Period. Exclamation point. The End.
What makes creatine so awesome? Well pretty much everything. It boosts work load allowing you to train harder for longer, raises IGF-1 levels, reduces protein breakdown and lowers myostatin levels, but if you haven’t lived under a rock the past 40 years, you already knew all that. So, why are you wasting your time reading this article instead of doing another chest day this week?
Because creatine does so much more.
What I am talking about is the other awesome stuff creatine does. Not only does it increase your muscle power, it increases your mind power!
Now that I’ve got you all like “creatine builds your muscles and mind???” Yep. It seems to be that way. We already established that creatine allows you push out a few more sets and reps, but now it has been shown that creatine will help you remember which set and rep you are on when you are dead tired from busting your ass on a best selling Johnny Muscle e-book!!!
Much of the research is based around improvement of elderly cognitive function (1). Now this may or may not directly impact us as of now, but short of getting crushed to death by an ego driven 405 bench press, getting shot in the back by a jealous husband, or some other epic way of dying, we are all going to be old some day. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Vegetarians are often deficient in many nutrients, and almost always have low creatine levels because of their objection to eating delicious animals, our primary dietary source. This may explain the lack of physical and brain power compared to their meat eating counterparts. I’m just kidding. Kind of.... Anyways, vegetarians taking a creatine supplement were found to improve their memory tests by 50% and intelligence by 20% (2).
More relevant to most of you reading this, is the study showing the reduction in the negative effect on cognitive and psychomotor performance and mood state with creatine supplementation (3). If you’re one of the few people getting 8+ hours of sleep great, but for the rest of you, creatine is a must.
Now I’m not saying creatine is going to turn you into Einstein, but if you have a creatine deficiency because you’re a root chewing vegetarian, or you’re deficient for any other reason, it will get you back up and running on all 8 cylinders. So anyone lacking a full nights sleep, anyone not eating enough animal flesh, and last but not least, anyone wanting to improve their strength, size, and power needs to supplement their diet with creatine.
So, how much do you take? Well that’s up to you, and your doctor (legal CYA). Personally, I take anywhere from 10-20g a day, half in the AM with my coffee and the other half in my pre or post workout shake. I am 230lbs, work a physical full time job, workout, personal train clients, run an MMA gym at night, Johnny Muscle with my business partner, and write awesome articles like this. That being said I never sleep, so adjust your dosage around your personal needs.
Creatine is relatively cheap so I tend to err on the higher dose and you should too if your body allows for it. Just make sure you’re drinking more water, and everything should be good.