Creatine has been scientifically proven to help build muscle and improve strength, but it isn’t just a bodybuilder’s supplement. The naturally-occurring peptide is already floating around your bloodstream in small amounts, supporting multiple internal functions like brain cognition and kidney function.
And while creatine will supplement muscle growth for people regularly lifting weights, it can provide a myriad of benefits for all sorts of folks, including women who want to feel better without bulking up.
Here are three lesser-known benefits of creatine that could significantly improve your daily life.
Creatine has been shown to reverse cognition issues like focus, short-term memory loss, reaction time, and energy when sleep-deprived. Vegetarians, especially, will benefit from supplementing creatine into their diets because they do not get to consume the typical trace amounts found in animal meats. In one study of vegetarians, 5mg of creatine per day had positive effects on processing speed and memory.
Higher doses of creatine in studies of the elderly also showed extremely promising results in cognitive performance. Elderly patients who consumed upwards of 20mg per day reported dramatic improvements in processing speed and memory.
Of course, younger, more active individuals of all ages can benefit from supplementation, as well. This is because activity will deplete creatine levels more quickly than a sedentary lifestyle. Basically, while creatine will theoretically help anyone, it will especially elevate performance for those who need it most.
Many women worry that muscle supplements will make them feel bulky, uncomfortable, or bloated. But the real risk of aging isn’t too much muscle growth, but too little. Women who are experiencing muscle loss with increased age will love the added support to their strength and tonality that creatine provides.
In one study of men and women over 65, creatine (paired with regular exercise) increased muscle strength, fat-free mass, and functional muscle capacity. A similar study of women over 65 reported improvements in training volume and major muscle repetition maxes — both of which suggest improvements in strength.
Loss of muscle, especially in women, leads to higher rates of injuries and decreased metabolism. It’s never a good idea to shy away from building muscle, no matter your age or gender.
The modern diet provides so many food options that increase bad cholesterol and slowly erode heart health over a lifetime. Creatine may actually be able to reverse a lot of those negative side effects and lower heart disease risks.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 18 men and 16 women with total cholesterol concentrations exceeding 200 mg/dl, study participants were given either 5g of creatine or a placebo for 56 days. The creatine group saw significant reductions in cholesterol, triacylglycerols, and very-low-density lipoprotein-C.
A second study added creatine to a basic multivitamin regiment. The special multivitamin supplement lowered inflammatory homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart disease, in healthy people better than multivitamins alone.
Creatine advocates admit that the research into heart health is still scanty, but results have been beyond promising thus far. And given that creatine shows almost no traceable negative side-effects (just be sure to hydrate well when you add creatine — though that is good advice regardless), it’s time to add this peptide into your daily routine.