This is not going to be another article about how creatine is the best supplement for fitness, although, it wouldn’t be a stretch for me to make that claim. My focus is on the quickly developing studies that suggest creatine might be the closest supplement to a “Limitless” level nootropic we have available.
This article is for those who seek answers for themselves and question everything. You don’t just listen to the masses when they say a supplement works. You ask why it works, then test it out for yourself.
I can’t help you with the self-experimentation thing, that’s kind of a solo gig. But I got your back on the knowledge front. By the time you finish reading, you’ll understand:
- What creatine is, and its role in energy production
- How creatine can upgrade your gym game
- And a few less commonly known tricks, tips, and benefits (for example, how creatine is probably what Pinky and the Brain were missing when they were planning their world takeover).
How Creatine Works
Let’s get one thing straight. Creatine is not unhealthy (for most people). And it’s absolutely not an anabolic steroid. It’s an organic compound that can be found in red meat and fish. Oh. And our bodies make it all on their own. So, yeah…there’s that.
Creatine facilitates recycling of adenosine triphosphate, the energy currency of the cell, primarily in muscle and brain tissue. That’s all great bio-babble, but it’s also kind of abstract. I might be a hipster, but even I never got into abstractionist art or concepts.
Structurally, adenosine triphosphate consists of an organic compound (adenosine) and three phosphate molecules. Great, so what’s a phosphate molecule? Phosphorus is an essential mineral primarily used for growth and repair of body cells and tissues. It’s commonly found in the body as phosphate(s).
We store creatine in our muscles. A phosphate group can be attached to creatine, forming phosphocreatine — also stored in the muscles. Here’s a step-by-step of how this plays out:
- Muscles in work use adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
- This process includes removing a phosphate group from adenosine triphosphate
- Adenosine triphosphate becomes adenosine diphosphate, or ADP.
- From an energy standpoint, ADP isn’t all that useful. Phosphocreatine knows this, so it jumps in and swiftly donates its phosphate group — what an altruist.
- ADP becomes ATP again, allowing for more work to be done.
Here’s where the problem comes in. When we do high-intensity exercise, our muscles demand a massive amount of ATP, and they demand it rapidly. For comparison, the demand for ATP during workout sessions amps up 1,000 fold. If ATP isn’t available, then what happens? The body can’t sustain performance.
Creatine and Phosphocreatine are basically reserves. But, unlike the Federal Reserve, our bodies can’t just print up more and more phosphates without any consequence — excluding abhorrent inflation, crippled economy, devastated currency system, and disappearing middle class, of course. I digress. We can only store so much in our muscles, and eventually those reserves will run out.
Enter Creatine Supplementation. Adding supplemental creatine into the system is a way to deepen your reservoir and fill it with more energy producing awesomeness. All right. Cool. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can get to what actually matters — the benefits.
Creatine’s Sun Sign: The Benefits You Know
Creatine increases strength and power output during short-duration, high-intensity training exercise. You know that. Everyone knows that. Literally hundreds of studies have come to that same conclusion.
Maybe you aren’t really aware of the common benefits, though. To my surprise, there are plenty of individuals in “artistic” communities that still think anyone who cares about physical performance is a mindless oaf. If you’re barely breaking free of your pseudointellectual self (congrats), then I’ll briefly catch you up to speed.
Diminishes Myostatin Activity:
What the hell is myostatin? Another biological compound that plays a role in building muscle. And further proves my point that anyone who still believes calories (or even macronutrients) are the biggest factor in gaining lean muscle mass is living in the Dark Ages.
Myostatin is a protein found in mammals (humans included) that signals the body to tear down muscle mass. In other words, for all bodybuilding intents and purposes, Myostatin is the Evil Overlord. It’s “The Man” trying to keep you down. One of many Boss Battles in the (fitness) hero’s journey toward gainz.
Here’s where creatine comes into play. Scientists did their science thing and conducted an 8 week study on creatine’s effect on Myostatin levels. What they found is that creatine reduces myostatin levels.
Basically, taking creatine is like going into a video game boss battle with a sword that adds a +12 to damage-over-time. In conjunction with strength training, you can chip away at Myostatin’s HP (i.e. build more muscle).
Increases Strength & Power Output In Short Duration Exercises
As far as anyone knows, Creatine is the most effective nutritional supplement currently available for improving anaerobic performance.
Don’t believe me? Fine. Believe the numbers. Several hundred peer-reviewed research studies got my back. The vast majority of them reported a significant improvement in exercise capacity. There were some that reported non-significant gains, but they were few and far between.
On average, the gains in performance ranged between 10 to 15% depending on the variable of interest for short-term supplementation. Long-term supplementation studies suggest overall enhanced training, leading to around 15% greater gains in strength and performance.
Of the many things Creatine can do, increasing the water volume in the body is one of them.
This is especially visible during the “loading phase” of creatine. There’s a common misconception about Creatine’s effect on weight. Some believe that they’ve just gained ten pounds of mass. Others worry creatine has suddenly made them fat.
Neither of these things are true. Mass doesn’t happen in a week. If you look fat on creatine, news flash. You’re probably just fat. Since creatine increases water volume, it can make you look a little softer — or feel bloated. But that will diminish once your body is accustomed to the improved hydration.
What are the benefits of extra water volume, though…
- All Da Pumps: Grapes are plump, juicy deliciousness. Raisins are shriveled shells of their past selves — the ghosts of grapes. Raisins are created by dehydrating grapes. I trust you see where I’m going with this.
- Hydrated muscles = grapes
- Dehydrated muscles = raisins aka grape ghosts
- Increased Protein Synthesis: Creatine stimulates the rate of protein synthesis (but not protein degradation), which can result in improved muscle recovery.
Stimulates Muscle Hypertrophy (Growth)
There’s a variety of ways to stimulate hypertrophy, via training, diet, etc. Muscle hypertrophy is basically muscle growth. Several things go into the process and that’s an article all on its own. Here’s a little rapid-fire action of the processes Creatine positively impacts.
- May increase levels of IGF-1 in the body, a hormone that plays a critical role in muscle growth
- Accelerates protein synthesis.
- Muscle Hydration
- Progressive Overload is one of the most tried-and-true methods for building muscle. Seeing as how creatine improves strength, it kinda goes without saying that it also stimulates growth.
- Improved muscle recovery
Creatine’s Moon Sign: The Benefits of Creatine You Don’t Know
This isn’t the 90’s anymore. We’ve evolved.
So long as we ignore the fact that people still excuse intolerable behavior using Mercury’s retrograde, society has evolved. Think about it, aside from some crazies, we know that homosexuality isn’t a choice and you can’t “catch the gay.” (even if it would make relationships easier.) Not only that, we…heaven forbid, embrace diversity. Excluding elected officials — politicians are somehow exempt from evolution.
We don’t glorify materialistic sociopathic yuppies like Patrick Bateman in Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. Instead, we glorify hipster narcissistic sociopaths, like Joe Goldberg in Caroline Kepnes’ novel, You. We’ve learned that, although frosted tips aren’t cool, boy bands are more than just a phase — Backstreet Boys never needed to come back, they never left us and never will.
(Almost back on topic, I promise) We don’t have to sign on to AIM to chat for hours, only to get kicked off when our parents receive a phone call, thus devastating our chances with our crush — eff you, Dial-Up. And games like Zelda and Pokemon, which were amazing when they came out on handheld gameboys can be played on our phones…well, at least for Android users. The iPhone is for those who don’t care about nostalgia.
(One more example): People once said content is king. I disagree. Quality Content is king. In the 90’s, writers were forced to write cheap bulls***. Now…services like Netflix simply turn to their writers and say, “Here’s 10 million dollars. Go make something dope.”
Back On Track: Creatine in 2020
But this isn’t an article about my white-kid suburbs struggles (paging Ben Folds). This is about Creatine, and how the stigmas need to be dropped. Creatine is no longer just for guys who claim “natty” and blame their gyno on a perfectly safe compound our bodies naturally produce.
Thanks to modern science, Creatine has earned itself a plaque in the hall of supplemental fame. Not just in physical fitness. In literally any endeavor for self-improvement. Name your goal, Creatine probably helps.
Daily stim-free energy? Improved mitochondrial function? Better brain function? Immune health? Anti-inflammation? Or maybe you just want more antioxidant properties in your life. It seems crazy that one compound could achieve all this, but what can we say. Not all compounds are created equal.
Let’s look a little deeper at each of these lesser known benefits:
I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge all those who have called me a meathead for my devotion to defending supplements. Go ahead and continue claiming creatine is only for weightlifting, brainiacs. Meanwhile, those of us who know better will reap the benefits. You know, the important stuff.
- Producing more (arguably) high-quality content
- An ability to keep up brain function despite my failing adrenals
- Vanity validation. That pertains to focus, I swear (without validation, how can you do anything but wallow about self-perceived aesthetic inadequacy?)
Here’s how this works. The brain is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body. As such, brainpower requires a staggering amount of energy production. Seriously, the thing never stops. Whether it’s keeping you up at night so you can reflect on how you’ll never be enough and likely end up alone, or helping you find the bottom of that Half-Baked ice cream you can’t stop eating (because you’re full-on baked) as Netflix asks if you’re still watching. Ah, quarantine life. It also works to keep you on track with that novel you meant to finish last month…mostly. Except when creatine stores are low.
Which (finally) brings me to my next point. The suppositional benefits of creatine on the brain has to do with its ability to speed up ATP resynthesis. Seeing as how your brain requires so much energy, and how ATP is essentially the body’s energy currency, it’s no stretch to see how creatine can improve cognitive function. Such benefits include:
- Mental endurance: Even normal brainy tasks cause an increase in ATP demand.
- Keep up with your workload: when cognitive tasks’ complexity goes up, that ATP demand goes up as well.
- Mental fatigue mitigation: This demand also increases during times of stress like sleeplessness, and fatigue. So, creatine can help mitigate some of the damage your addiction to browsing IG for funny memes causes in your sleep patterns.
Antioxidant (Immune Function)
During metabolism, the cells produce free radicals, often called oxidants. While they help trigger muscle growth, excessive quantities break down cell membranes, destroy DNA, promote muscle soreness, and suppress the immune system. Basically, oxidative stress.
Creatine has been shown to increase antioxidant defenses. As such, it can bolster the immune system.
Due to its antioxidant properties, it may also prove beneficial for anti-aging. Time will tell (it typically does).
Although more evidence is needed, some studies suggest that creatine can potentially alleviate symptoms of depression. I’m not referring to that situational depression you feel because of that time you hooked up with your best friend’s ex behind their back. That’s on you, move on. They were totally coming onto you and besides, they’d been broken up for three weeks anyway.
I’m referring to clinical depression. In other words, real depression. To fix your situational depression, maybe stop repressing your abandonment issues and own up already. This isn’t about my personal life, though.
The study conducted in South Korea took 52 women with depression and added a 5-gram creatine supplement to their daily antidepressant. The fact that they were already taking antidepressants and were located in South Korea is how you know the study was legit. If it were America, that’d be different, since we all know the FDA encourages doctors to absurdly overprescribe medications to help people cope with their issues.
The women experienced improvements in their symptoms as early as 2 weeks, and the improvement continued up to weeks 4 and 8.
Rapid Fire Conjecture
In case you aren’t already totally stoked on creatine yet, then here are some other potential benefits. Although, if I’m being realistic, if you aren’t already rushing to grab some creatine, then probably nothing will get you stoked, and you might wanna consider rereading the above section about depression. Just saying.
- May improve glucose tolerance: In other words, help you trim down
- May promote increased bone content and density: believe it or not, bones are important. Especially for those focused on strength gain. Just because your muscles can move heavy weight doesn’t necessarily mean your bones can handle the strain.
- May accelerate recovery time after an injury.
- May be useful for individuals with muscular dystrophy.
- May alleviate symptoms commonly found due to creatine deficiency (*)
Forms of Creatine
Unless your physician says otherwise, or you already know that creatine isn’t right for you due to a medical condition, then the question isn’t if you should supplement with creatine. The question is: What form of creatine is best for me?
- Creatine Monohydrate: The OG. Most studies performed have been conducted using Creatine Monohydrate. There’s absolutely no doubt that it works (or at least very little, because I’m most likely not a Sith and therefore try not to speak in absolutes). However, we as humans love trying to upgrade tried-and-true goodness to eventually tried-and-true great. Which is where the following forms of creatine come in.
- Creatine MagnaPower (Magnesium Creatine Chelate): This creatine is attained by binding creatine to magnesium. This form increases the body’s ability to create ATP, increases creatine absorption, and creatine bioavailability
- Creatine AKG: creatine-AKG is creatine attached to an alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) molecule. The reason this is beneficial is because AKG is an intermediate in the Kreb’s cycle, which means it can seamlessly enter muscle cells. Creatine AKG transports more creatine directly into muscle cells, resulting in a higher muscular creatine concentration.
- Creatine HCL: By adding a hydrochloride group, creatine’s fluid solubility is increased. Research suggests that creatine HCL is absorbed by the intestines around 60% better than creatine monohydrate
- Creatine Pyruvate: Like its other monohydrate-upgraded counterparts, Creatine Pyruvate was designed to increase creatine bioavailability. According to most, that design has worked out well.
6 Point Creatine: The King Amongst Kings
Personally, I’m not about making decisions that could potentially short me a quarter inch on my arms, or worse, allow my productivity to decrease — since I weigh the value of my self on those two measurements. When it comes to creatine, I refuse to take my chances. There’s enough uncertainty in the world, like if I’ll ever be able to find toilet paper again or if I’ll ever be allowed to hang out with my family all at the same time. Creatine should not be amongst those uncertainties.
Good news: It doesn’t have to be.
Packing 5.75g of raw power, 6 Point Creatine is specifically formulated to cover every base possible — which, as it turns out, is a lot of bases. 6 Point utilizes 6 different types of creatine, each with different benefits, and different rates of release. You know the types I mentioned? Yup, 6 Point is formulated with every one of them. Baller, right? Right.
6 Point covers the spectrum from monohydrate for cellular volume to a buffered hydrochloride for sustained benefits and increased bioavailability. Every ingredient has been methodically dosed to work synergistically for optimal results.
How To Take and Stack For Ultimate Gainz
Mix 6 Point Creatine into your favorite: beverage, pre-workout, intra-workout, or post-workout drink. Its flavorless and fillerless formula makes it ideal to mix into just about any drink. Due to its anabolic properties, it is recommended that 6 Point be taken and timed around your workouts. Be sure to stay hydrated while training, supplementing and living an active lifestyle.*
As for stacking 6 Point Creatine for an accumulation of benefits unlike any other, I recommend putting together a little post-workout cocktail consisting of:
- ALL BULK NO BLOAT: improved nutrient absorption, mitochondrial function (adds another 5g of creatine monohydrate), muscle recovery, reduced chances of muscle waste, hormone function
- GLUTAMINE: Muscle recovery, muscle-sparing
- And, of course, 6 Point Creatine
Then, of course, shake yourself some BUCK FEED for grass-fed whey gainz and drink it 30 minutes afterward. Voila.
Who Should Take Creatine?
Creatine is no longer just for those who want improved athletic performance or to add on lean muscle mass. It’s for the ambitious. Those who want more out of life.
And 6 Point Creatine…well, 6 Point Creatine is for those whose ambitions are insatiable. Those who don’t just want more. It’s for those who want everything. To conquer every facet of life. Then make up another facet, just so they can conquer that too. It is for the relentless. It’s for you.
Stock up. Someday, with the help of 6 Point Creatine, you will make an admirable foe. Or the best, most loving partner and philanthropist in the world. Whatever suits you.