When most people think of creatine they think of bodybuilders. In fact, they think of big guys walking around with massive muscles that most people could only dream about. And while creatine does indeed help you build muscle mass and change the overall composition of your body, its benefits go far beyond that. Truth be told, building muscle and strength are only two of the many benefits this amazing supplement has to offer.
Everyday, scientists all over the world are learning more and more about creatine and how absolutely amazing it can be for your overall health. It can literally have a positive impact on almost every part of your body— including your heart, brain, bones and liver. Now before we dive in and talk Is Creatine Only For Building Muscle Mass and what are the other benefits associated with creatine, let’s first discuss some of the basics.
What Exactly is Creatine?
While most people have heard of creatine, very few actually know what it is. In a nutshell, Creatine is a compound consisting of two or more amino acids that your body is able to use for energy. In order for your muscles to work they need fuel. ATP, which stands for adenosine triphosphate, is the main source of energy your cells use for energy. When you engage in activities such as lifting heavy weights your ATP levels will quickly drop below normal levels. Creatine will automatically kick in when your ATP levels drop and give you the energy you need to keep going.
3 Ways Creatine Can Benefit You Outside The Gym
More and more research is showing creatine can do much more than help you increase your bench press. It can also have a positive impact on your health in a variety of other ways.
Here are 3 ways you can benefit from creatine outside of the gym:
1. Creatine and Diabetes
If you are a diabetic learning how to regulate your blood sugar levels is vital. If your blood sugar gets out of hand it can lead to a plethora of health issues, including the possibility of losing a limb. In some situations, it can also lead to blindness which, when you think about it, is quite scary. The good news, however, is regulating your blood sugar levels can be done through various avenues— including diet, exercise and medication. Another way you can do this is by supplementing with creatine during exercise. Following this practice can help you keep your blood sugar levels under control, helping you feel active throughout the day.
A 2011 study published in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” studied the affect of creatine on Type 2 diabetes. It was a random, double-blind trial that was placebo controlled. The study found that those who took creatine had an increase in Glut-4 translocation. Glut-4 is the protein responsible for transporting simple sugar glucose in and out of your cells. This can help improve glycemic control, which will, in turn, help you keep diabetes symptoms at bay.
Another study done by Derave and co-researchers showed that taking creatine not only increased glut-4, but it also improved glucose tolerance in a limb that was previously immobilized. The increase expression of glut-4 is what ultimately led to the improvements in glucose tolerance. However, without creatine the increase in glut-4 would not have been induced.
2. Creatine and Cognition
If you are a vegetarian or vegan you may find your diet is lacking in certain key areas such as zinc, fatty acids and amino acids. One of the amino acids you may have a deficiency in is creatine which is mostly found in meat. A six week Australian study done on vegans and vegetarians showed taking creatine can have a positive effect on memory. There were cognitive tasks that were found to be worse in those who were part of the placebo group. It also showed people who are prone to developing Alzheimers tend to have lower levels of creatine in their brains.
After the six week study came to an end, all subjects were assessed to see where they stood in terms of verbal memory capacity and non verbal intelligence. Those who took creatine showed marked improvements in their short term memory. They were also better able to solve problems when under a time constraint.
3. Creatine and Neurological Disease
In an effort to determine the effectiveness of creatine in treating neurodegenerative disorders, researchers Wyss and Schulze dug in and did some extensive research on this very popular supplement. Their findings, which happened to be published in Neuroscience, a very prestigious publication, showed creatine is a very important neuroprotectant and can help increase the survival of nerve cells in your body. The production of Reactive Oxygen Species and energy metabolism are thought to be the cause of various disorders associated with the brain. And based on the research, creatine has the ability to help your brain survive some of the trauma associated with these disorders.
During their research, Wyss and colleagues found that those who suffer from neurodegenerative disorders due to a creatine deficiency may need to supplement with creatine. The supplements will allow creatine to be delivered to the central nervous system in a more effective manner.
What Type of Creatine Should You Use?
You can find creatine supplements in a variety of different forms. The type you should take will depend on you and what will work best for you. For instance, monohydrate creatine supplements, the most popular type of creatine, has been known to cause an upset stomach. If that’s the case you should opt for micronized creatine as it is a more water soluble option. There are also several other options you can choose including buffered, creatine citrate, creatine malate, liquid creatine, creatine ethyl ester and creatine nitrate just to name a few.
As you can see, the health benefits of creatine far exceed just building muscle and creating an amazing body. A variety of different populations including those who suffer from diabetes, those with neurodegenerative disorders, vegetarians, older adults and those who naturally have low levels of creatine can benefit from using this amazing supplement.