Creatine is one of the most studied dietary supplements out there. In fact, over 1,000 studies have been conducted, showing that creatine is the best overall supplement for exercise performance. This article compiles the top 7 scientifically-backed benefits that led to this claim.
Nowadays, there are many different kinds of creatine formulations, but the gold standard has always been creatine monohydrate. Found in products like Transparent Labs, creatine HMB has the best safety record, the most scientific support, and is the cheapest and easiest to find.
1. Helps Muscle Cells Create More Energy
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in your body that increases your muscle's phosphocreatine stores. Phosphocreatine aids formulate ATP, our body's main source of energy during our workouts. The more ATP you use, the faster it reproduces, leading to more energy.
A creatine supplement allows you to produce more phosphocreatine than what can naturally be created in your body, leading to performance-enhancing effects and increased muscle mass.
2. Supports Muscle Functions and Growth
Most bodybuilders primarily use creatine for its effectiveness in adding muscle mass. Creatine can create new and improved muscle fibers, increase the use and formation of proteins, and raises insulin-like growth factor 1 levels, which helps promote the production of larger muscles.
Creatine can even help your muscles retain water, which leads to cell volumization. This and the decrease in myostatin levels make your muscles appear bigger and more defined.
3. Increased the Speed of Muscle Growth
Creatine is especially effective at building muscle quickly. After using creatine for less than a week, most bodybuilders see a noticeable difference in their muscle size and lean body weight.
In an NIH study, participants added 4.4 lbs more muscle mass in 6 weeks while taking a creatine supplement compared to the placebo control group. Participants benefited from stronger muscle fibers in the long term, which prevented injury and boosted gym performance.
4. Increased the Effectiveness of HIIT Training
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is often difficult for bodybuilders to perform because the community typically avoids cardio workouts and/or endurance-based training.
However, creatine's direct role in ATP products means it improves high-intensity cardio-based workout performance by up to 15%. An increase in ATP is known for increasing ballistic power, strength, resistance to fatigue, sprint ability, recovery, and brain performance across the board.
5. Can Help Ward Off Neurological Diseases
Certain neurological disorders either occur due to a decreased amount of phosphocreatine in the brain or become worse as these levels drop. Parkinson's disease may be prevented or become manageable with an increase in creatine because it prevents drops in dopamine.
However, most of the studies that look at creatine's role in diseases like Alzheimer's, strokes, brain injuries, epilepsy, ALS, and Huntington's disease were only tested on rats, not humans.
6. Can Help Fight Diabetes and Lower Blood Sugar
Doctors study the short-term blood sugar response from a meal when checking for pre-diabetic markers, and it seems that creatine can help lower these markers. Creatine increases GLUT-4 transmitter functions, which lowers your blood sugar by bringing it into your muscles.
It's possible that if a pre-diabetic patient takes creatine after a meal, it will reduce their blood sugar and prevent full-on diabetes, but more research needs to be done in this area.
7. Can Reduce Tiredness and Fatigue
Creatine plays a large part in increasing dopamine levels in the brain, which reduces tiredness and fatigue. Those that suffer from a traumatic brain injury can take an extra creatine supplement to reduce their dizziness and lessen their experienced concussion-related fatigue.
Athletes and bodybuilders also feel less tired when doing strenuous exercise taking creatine. Even the sleep-deprived can feel a little bit of a natural kick from taking this supplement.