Before you commence to read this article and soothe yourself with all the benefits of creatine mentioned below, you may want to have a look at certain handy fundamentals about creatine that I have already discussed in this article – Which creatine is best for building muscle? Now that you are back, let’s not waste time and get straight to facts. Everything you need to know is mentioned below –
Creatine Monohydrate Benefits
Before I begin to list down the benefits of creatine, let me introduce you to the term – PCr, which you are going to read quite often in this article. PCr is the phosphocreatine system and necessarily the path that creatine follows once it is ingested in the body.
People who consume a substantial amount of creatine usually have a large of stores of PCr readily available for producing energy during short bouts of high-intensity work. Now, let’s move to the core of this article – Benefits of Creatine Supplements.
Creatine builds Muscle and Strength
The PCr stores, we discussed previously, acts as the powerhouse of energy required for short periods of high-intensity physical activities like sprints, weight training, and HIIT. This makes creatine one of the most vital supplements for athletes and bodybuilders.
The primary goal of using creatine supplements is to increase the creatine stores in the muscle. And because creatine is identified by the body as a fuel source; it occupies the top spot in most preferred energy source during all kinds of anaerobic exercises including strength training. However, you should note that creatine supplements may not be very effective for low-intensity exercises and exercises did for the long duration like jogging and cardio on treadmill or elliptical.
Back in 2001, a study aimed to assess the efficacy of creatine on exercise performance demonstrated that there was an increase in the work done in sprints for subjects which consumed creatine than those who did not. In fact, most of the studies conducted over last decade or so have all backed creatine as a potential muscle-building supplement with minimum or no side- effects.
When incorporated into an effective training routine, creatine supplement benefits body to push its limits which in turn increases overall strength and power.
Creatine enhances Sports Performance
Done with the anaerobic part, now let’s look at how creatine benefits sports and aerobic performance. Almost two decades before, Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine, Canada carried out a blind study on twenty-six subjects. In this study, subjects were asked to either consume five grams of creatine for four times a day or to ingest placebo for a total of five days.
All the subjects were then put on the exercise routine for next five days. Final findings of this study showed participants that ingested creatine had increased time to exhaustion and increased VO2 max (maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use).
Creatine aids Weight Loss
Although indirectly, creatine monohydrate benefits weight loss goals. Put simply, ingesting creatine supplements can supply you with additional energy which can be utilized to increase the exercise workload which in turn increases the total number of calories burned.
While losing weight, you will certainly put on a good amount of lean muscle on your body. And according to science, increasing lean muscle mass may lead to increase in metabolic rate. However, you should always keep in mind that creatine supplements are not magic pills. They will show results only when you push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Another important thing that is worth mentioning is that the benefits of creatine are not exclusive to bodybuilders. Infact, all individuals whether an average gym goer or dedicated track field athlete, everyone can avail the same benefit from creatine monohydrate supplement.
Creatine may aid Quick Post-Workout Recovery
Not many studies have shown creatine supplementation to directly affect post-workout recovery process. However, most of the studies have pointed towards the indirect involvement of creatine supplement in enhancing post-exercise muscle recovery.
According to this research, elevated phosphocreatine levels achieved through creatine supplementation diminishes blood lactate accumulation and ammonia levels, both of which are responsible for poor performance. So, increased production of energy molecules (ATP) allows you to perform few more reps than what you usually did. This, in turn, speeds up the production of ATP which could ultimately lead to faster recovery, enabling you to maximize your performance in upcoming training sessions.
Creatine Improves Muscle Volumization
I have already discussed creatines muscle volumization property in this article – Why to use and how to use creatine monohydrate powder? For those who haven’t read it, here’s a quick overview – Creatine has this unique feature known to many as muscle volumization.
Through this property, creatine increases the water content of your muscles, leading them to look bigger and fuller. Not only does it stop here, but this cell volumization effect may trigger an anabolic effect on your muscles, allowing increased muscle protein synthesis rates and hence tremendous muscle growth.
Creatine enhances Brain Power
To begin with, referring to the double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial conducted by the University of Sydney on oral creatine monohydrate supplementation, ingesting five gram of creatine/day for six weeks can improve brain memory and intelligence.
Then in 2009, this study conducted by University of Sunderland, UK, demonstrated that creatine is proficient of improving I.Q, working memory and attention duration in non-vegetarians subjects too.
It’s not over yet. In 2002, Japanese scientists carried out a study to assess the effects of creatine on mental fatigue and cerebral hemoglobin oxygenation. The study came to a conclusion that ingesting creatine supplement eight gram/day for five days reduces mental fatigue.
Creatine boosts Testosterone Levels
There is a massive amount of evidence that confirms the ability of creatine in optimizing testosterone levels in men. This double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study conducted in 2009 on college-aged rugby players showed that after a seven-day loading phase of creatine, followed by a fourteen days of maintenance supplementation – the levels of bioactive androgen, DTH (dihydrotestosterone), increased by 56% after the initial seven days of loading and remained 40% above the baseline after fourteen days maintenance.
Another study which aimed to analyze the long-term safety effects of creatine showed that subjects who took creatine monohydrate supplement for up to four years have no ill-effects on their health, but a notable increase in their testosterone levels was observed.
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Also published on Medium.