The Guide to Creatine as a Nootropic, for Muscle and Brain function
- What is Creatine?
- What Are the Benefits of Creatine
- What is the Best Way to Take Creatine?
- What are the Side Effects of Creatine?
- Creatropic - Why it's Different
Creatine is one of the most, if not the most researched supplement in the world. It is hugely popular with bodybuilders, strength athletes and team sports players alike thanks to a plethora of studies showing a clear performance gain.
However, it is now starting to gain a reputation for its nootropic benefits and an increasing number of people are using it to fuel their brains as well as their muscles.What is Creatine
We can naturally produce creatine in the kidneys and liver by utilising three amino acids: glycine, arginine and methionine. Although we can also obtain a small amount from animal-based foods, it is universally accepted that supplementation is the best way to obtain it. For example, you would need to consume over 1kg of beef to get the same amount as you would in one typical supplement scoop.
You can find a number of different types of creatine in supplement form, such as ethyl ester, HCl and kre alkalyn. However, we would always recommend the monohydrate form – not only is it the most researched, it’s also the most cost effective.What Are the Benefits?
All cells in the body run on a compound known as adenosine triphosphate or ATP for short. So for energy, we rely on our metabolism using carbohydrates, fats and sometimes protein to create ATP.
However, we can also use phosphocreatine otherwise known as creatine phosphate. These are simply names for stored creatine. As we will see in the next sections, increasing our energy stores through creatine supplementation can lead to some rather impressive benefits.
As our brains have such a massive requirement for energy, the most of any organ by far in fact, researchers soon realised the potential creatine had to give our brain a boost. But what does the published research say?
Despite nootropic creatine being a growing topic, there are already numerous studies showing that it can fight mental fatigue and aid cognitive functions like memory.
The benefits seem to be most pronounced in adults who are chronically tired and stressed. In one investigation of almost 300 adults, creatine was shown to benefit short term memory, intelligence and reasoning, as well as leading to improvements in attention, word fluency, reaction time and mental fatigue.
Interestingly, the researchers saw the greatest benefit in vegetarian participants who obviously don’t get much, if any, through their diet. Creatine’s nootropic benefits don’t stop there though.
A collection of scientific trials have shown that it can improve depression when used alongside a class of medication called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Not only has one study shown a benefit in as little as 2 weeks, the researched commended the safety of the intervention. Just like with any supplement, we would always advise you to speak to your GP or pharmacist before taking creatine powder alongside medication.
Creatine monohydrate powder is found in gym bags all over the world because of its ability to support muscular hypertrophy and strength gains. To facilitate these adaptations, we need to put our muscles under a strain they haven’t felt before: progressive overload.
As creatine supplementation basically increases the fuel our muscles have, it is the ultimate supplement for body builders and strength athletes. The “ultimate supplement” sounds like hyperbole, but its benefits have been confirmed in over 100 published studies. One meta-analysis that evaluated 16 studies on creatine monohydrate found that after 8 weeks of daily supplementation, individuals who were familiar with resistance training boosted their bench press and squat one rep maxes by 7kg and 10kg respectively when compared to those taking a placebo.
Looking specifically at muscle gain, a huge meta-analysis which contained 100 studies confirmed that creatine supplementation leads to “significant” increases in lean body mass when pairing with weight training. Meta analyses are universally recognised as the pinnacle of scientific evidence.
This is because they use advanced research methods to collate the results of numerous studies that aimed to solve the same research question. In short, if a supplement has returned impressive findings in a meta analysis then it’s worthy of your attention.
Creatine supplements shouldn’t just be viewed as something for younger people either. There are many studies showing how it can strengthen bones, muscles and also the heart, while supporting independence and longevity in older adults.
The evidence is that strong, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has authorised a health claim for it specifically aimed at adults over 55. If strength and muscle gain is your goal, creatine definitely deserves a place in your nutrition plan.
Team sports such as rugby, football and hockey all consist of intense bursts of maximal effort followed by periods of active rest. Because of this, they are known as ‘repeated-sprint’ sports and are therefore quite heavily reliant on energy from phosphocreatine.
One study looked at the benefits of creatine monohydrate on sprinting speed, speed endurance and jumping performance in a group of well-trained football players. It was found that those who received the supplement improved their 5m and 15m sprint times, their repeated sprint ability and resisted fatigue in a jumping test more effectively compared to group of footballers who took a placebo.
The monohydrate form has also been shown to be of benefit to professional ice-hockey players during pre-season training. In the squad of players, half took creatine and the other half took a placebo. After 10 weeks it was found that the players who were given the supplement improved their average power output during a wattbike test by around 20% as well as shaving a chunk of time off their sprint performance on the ice.
These results are most impressive seeing as the study was performed on elite athletes – a group of people who rarely experience large performance gains. This result and the findings from scores of other investigated should be enough to encourage team sports athletes to supplement with creatine if it is something that they have been contemplating.
There are a number of ways to supplement, but the most popular way is to begin with a ‘loading phase’ before transitioning to a ‘maintenance dose’. Generally during a loading phase, 20-25g will be taken daily for 5-7 days.
The doses should be spaced throughout the day to maximise uptake and avoid any digestive issues. Following such a loading phase, creatine stores should be at maximum capacity, meaning only 3-5g per day will be needed from now on (maintenance dose).
Creatine has to be bound to water in the muscles, so typically, the more weight you gain during the loading phase the greater the benefit will be. Significant weight gain in the first 5-7 days is a tell-tale sign you have massively boosted your creatine stores. Some choose not to utilise a loading phase and instead just take 5g per day right from the start.
Although this does not rapidly boost stores like a loading phase would, consistently taking 5g per day will see people achieve similar levels after a month or so. But when is the best time to take creatine? Research has shown that it’s best to take it after exercise or with a meal containing carbohydrates. After exercise, the body is primed for refuelling and the muscles are most responsive to the uptake of nutrients.
After eating a carb-rich meal, the pancreas produces insulin – a hormone which shuttles nutrients into the muscles. Research has shown that taking creatine alongside carbohydrates helps more get into the muscles and insulin is the driver of this. As most people consume carbohydrates post-workout, this seems the ideal time to take your daily creatine powder.
Don’t worry if you haven’t exercised though, you will still absorb it but not quite as much will be stored.What are the Side Effects?
If you know a little bit about creatine, you may have heard the rumours that it can cause liver and kidney damage and even hair-loss.
Thankfully, there is no strong evidence that this is at all the case. In fact, it has no major side-effects, especially when consuming the recommended amount. Issues only seem to occur when too much has been taken at once (gastrointestinal distress) or you are not sufficiently hydrated (muscle cramps).
You don’t have to cycle it either. Scientists have followed groups of people who have taken it daily for over 2 years and failed to note any side-effects or worrying blood tests.
Therefore, if you are thinking of supplementing with creatine, the worry of harmful side-effects should not hold you back.Creatropic - Why it's Different
There are plenty of creatine monohydrate powder supplements on the market, but what makes Brainpower Nootropics® Creatropic supplement stand out.
Well, we have basically taken a proven ingredient, i.e. creatine, and added other heavily-researched ingredients to accentuate its benefits.
In each and every scoop you will find 4.6g of creatine as well as 100mg of L-arginine, L-tyrosine, L-theanine and L-choline.
For further benefits, we have also included 250µg of vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin ‘active’ form).
We have incorporated L-arginine to help with blood flow to the muscles and brain while L-theanine and L-tyrosine help mental performance during periods of stress, such as during exercise or in tasks that require prolonged concentration.
L-choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine which helps send messages throughout the brain. Although we only need a small amount, vitamin B12 is one of the most essential nutrients in the diet.
It has a long list of benefits including psychological and nervous system function, fatigue reduction, red blood cell formation and metabolism. As you can see, we have worked hard to craft the ideal all-rounder of the creatine world – a supplement which helps you perform at your best both physically and mentally.
We also offer free nutrition advice to our customers, so if you are looking for help in getting the most out of your diet, exercise or nootropic supplement then we would be more than happy to assist.
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