CREATINE, WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE TAKE IT?
Creatine is as close as it comes to a wonder supplement. It has significant performance enhancing effects, while simultaneously being protective for health and increasing wellbeing. It is also one of the most widely researched and safest supplements available, which raises the question;
Why doesn’t everyone take it?
Unfortunately, creatine is one of those supplements that is so effective, a number of myths have developed around it. People think it’s a steroid. They hear it damages kidneys. They think it’s only for bodybuilders. None of these are true!
In fact, the people who can benefit most from creatine are those least likely to take it: the elderly, vegetarians, women and individuals with depression or traumatic brain injury. That’s not to say that athletes and bodybuilders won’t benefit too - they’re just not the population that is most likely to have low muscle creatine stores.
This blog will give you some of the most compelling reasons to take creatine and provide key points on how to get the most out of it.
Benefit #1: increase strength & power
Creatine is formed from the amino acids arginine and glycine and it serves as an energy reserve for short intense bouts of exercise. In fact, scientists have noticed that creatine can improve power output by 40% in the elderly going up a flight of stairs. Creatine literally increases the amount of energy stored within the muscles cells by increasing your level of ATP. Which you may remember from biology is the energy currency for every cell. So anytime you want to lift something or perform any form of exercise, you have to expend ATP.
Benefit #2: less sarcopenia
Most people think that getting old and decrepit as we age is a given. It’s just something that happens that we can’t control. This way of thinking is completely wrong.
The top 2 physiological factors associated with ageing are a loss of strength and muscle mass. As we lose strength, our coordination is reduced therefore we are more likely to trip, fall or hurt ourselves.
Another side effect from strength loss is reduced exercise levels and we lose muscle. With a reduced muscle mass leads to rapid fat gain. This will cause a cascade of negative metabolic changes that increase disease risk to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Then it’s all downhill from there!
Just by supplementing a few grams of creatine a day along with high quality meat and diet we can help outwit the ageing process. In a study of women aged 58 to 72 who supplemented 0.3g of creatine per kg of bodyweight for 7 days increased there walking speed and muscle mass.
Benefit #3: stronger bones
One of the biggest health risks as we age is decreased bone density. Although weight training alone can help keep bone density up, the reality is most elderly people can’t train intensely enough to halt this reduction in bone density.
In a yearlong study of elderly women who took creatine as well as weight trained regularly reduced bone loss significantly- the creatine group only had a 1% drop in bone density compared to those who just weight trained which lost 3.9% over the same time period.
Benefit #4: fight fatigue
Lack of sleep influences every aspect of your life, altering blood sugar control; altering blood sugar control, increasing the stress hormone cortisol, and significantly reducing reaction time and cognitive function. Not only will creatine supplementation help increase work load and reduce fatigue during training, it can also help overcome sleep deprivation.
Scientists note that creatine does not increase cortisol, making it more favourable than coffee, which does. Allowing a greater testosterone to cortisol ratio, indicating greater motivation and readiness to perform.
Benefit #5: better metabolic health
Creatine supplementation is generally safe for diabetics and has been found to improve metabolic health. In a study of non-diabetic, sedentary men, those who took creatine reduced their blood sugar response to a glucose tolerance test by 11 to 22percent. So creatine could potentially stop the onset of diabetes later in life.
A second study found that diabetics who supplemented with 5grams of creatine while engaging in an exercise program for 12 weeks significantly improved glycaemic control and lowered there HbA1c from an average of 7.4 to 6.4. Markers related to insulin sensitivity also improved.
Researchers think that creatine improves metabolic health and can increase your metabolic rate by increasing the signals in your body so it can burn sugar more readily during exercise.
Benefit #6: improved cognition
Your brain uses more energy than any other organ, making up 20% of your total energy expenditure. When your brain is in overload and workload is heavy, lack of fuel is the factor limiting brain function. Creatine is the primary source of energy as it provides ‘fast’ energy. ATP, which you’ll remember is the energy currency for every cell, is resynthesized from creatine 12times faster than via oxidative (oxygen), making it the favourable energy source.
When 45 vegetarians were given 5 grams of creatine a day for 6 weeks they improved by nearly 50% on an IQ test and also increased there working memory. This is due to the natural source of creatine is in red meat.
Benefit #7: faster recovery from concussion
Anytime an athlete experiences a concussion or other traumatic brain injury; there is a reduction in creatine levels in the brain. This leads to the productive of reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress (not getting enough oxygen). This causes a variety of neuromotor problems including poor brain function and reduced coordination.
Initial studies suggest that creatine supplementation may be neuroprotective (protect the brain), reducing the negative effects of lack of blood flow that coincides with concussion. It has been shown to reduce cortical brain damage by as much as 50%.
- Everyone can benefit from taking creatine
- Take creatine with either carbs of protein to increase uptake of creatine
- Take it within one hour either pre or post workout
- Drink plenty of water to ensure cellular hydration
- Additional benefits from creatine include less arthritis, lower cholesterol and quicker recovery from injuries