This One Common Supplement Can Supercharge Both Your Body and Mind

·2-min read
Photo credit: GeorgeRudy - Getty Images
Photo credit: GeorgeRudy - Getty Images

Don’t mistake this compound for a mere muscle drug – it’s a boost for body and mind. Don't believe us? It's time to get pumped up on the science.

Why You Need It

Some may associate creatine with bodybuilding and other, less salubrious, anabolic supps. But this compound occurs naturally in our livers and contains the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. Its main dietary source is red meat but, as more people turn to plant-based diets, supplementation is becoming increasingly common. Deficiency causes lethargy and brain fog and can slow down your gym progress.

How Much You Should Take

Avoid short cuts. The over-zealous bodybuilder’s habit of loading up on four 7g doses per day could leave you bloated and lumbered with the sudden weight gain endemic among the über-muscled. Your body simply can’t store that much creatine, so build up over time. Research suggests that taking 3g per day over four weeks results in maximum phosphocreatine saturation, with minimum unwanted water retention.

Why Creatine's Good for the Mind, as Well as the Body

Creatine helps your cells to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the principal molecule for storing and transferring energy. Your brain requires hefty doses of ATP when performing difficult tasks – that means creatine could boost your mental endurance when you’re slammed at work. It also aids your brain function by increasing dopamine levels, lifting your mood and dialling down work stress.

But It Is Good for Your Body and Performance

The most immediate physical benefit is improved athletic performance. In a study, American footballers who took creatine for nine weeks experienced a 19.6% boost in their power at high intensity, as well as improved strength in one rep-max exercises, such as deadlifts. Creatine supplementation could also increase your lactate threshold, delaying fatigue in aerobic activities, such as running, rowing and cycling.

How Creatine Can Make You Lean

If you’re on a quest for the swoley grail of bigger, stronger muscles, top off your supplement stack with creatine. A review of 150 studies noted a consistent increase in lean mass and a decrease in body fat among those who took it. Creatine also draws water into muscle cells, which can engorge the thickness of muscle fibres by as much as 15%, stimulating extra muscle protein synthesis. Talk about a big finish.

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