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Creatine is popularly known as a supplement taken by athletes because it produces energy (ATP) which helps to improve strength, power and increases muscle mass. However, it is less known, but also recognized for its protecting and enhancing cognitive effects. Creatine is predominantly found in meat, fish and animal sources. Due to this, vegetarians tend to have lower levels of muscle creatine and benefit immensely from creatine supplementation.

Improves Athletic Performance 

Even without an exercise regimen, creatine supplementation improves athletic performance for both young and older adults by increasing lean body mass, strength, and enhancing fatigue resistance. While these benefits are effective in boosting a younger adult’s performance, it is also effective to combat the natural occurrence of aging including loss of strength and muscle in the elderly. Even a decrease of bone density can be reduced because creatine supplementation, in addition to strength training increases bone mineral density more than just strength training independently.  

Studies have shown that consuming a daily supplement of creatine, for both 20g/day over 5 days in addition to 2g/day over 30 days have resulted in increased skeletal muscle creatine and phosphocreatine. Since high intensity training uses the creatine-phosphocreatine energy as a source, athletic performance is enhanced. 

Enhances Cognitive Function

In addition to its ability to improve athletic performance, creatine has the ability to prevent cognitive impairment and decline. Creatine is one of the metabolic agents that generates ATP which is the main cellular currency for energy. Since creatine is able to generate and maintain levels of ATP, one review suggests that it has the ability to improve neuronal dysfunction and slow cognitive decline. This suggestion is supported by other studies that have shown that creatine supplementation reduces neuronal cell loss pertaining to acute and chronic neurological diseases.

Additionally, many studies support the positive effects of creatine on cognitive enhancement. Many studies have shown that general cognitive processing, whether impaired by sleep deprivation or from impairment due to aging is significantly improved with creatine supplementation. Further, to measure the effects on cognitive performance, a study from Cambridge University separated vegetarians from carnivores and supplemented them with either 20 g of a creatine supplement or a placebo for 5 days. With creatine supplementation the vegetarian improved memory. Regardless of whether the subjects were vegetarian or omnivore, creatine supplementation decreased the variability in the responses to a choice reaction-time task

Another study on the elderly showed an improvement in cognitive impairment by measuring the effects of creatine supplementation and certain cognitive tasks. One group consumed 5 g four times a day of a placebo for the first week, and then were given the same dose of creatine for the second week. The other group was given a placebo for the full 2 weeks. The study showed that creatine supplementation significantly improved cognitive tasks including random number generation, forward number recall, spatial recall and long-term memory. 


Diet, lifestyle and an effective exercise regimen will help to maintain energy levels, build muscle and have cognitive enhancing effects, however, creatine can help to boost all of these things that much further. Creatine supplementation is particularly beneficial for vegetarians and for the elderly. If you do choose to supplement with creatine, a daily dose of 5 g is safe and effective, even a daily dose of 10 g for up to 5 years has been safely consumed. You will have to split up the dosing of creating because you can only absorb 1 g (1.5 g maximum) at a time, so split it up throughout your day.

If your goal is to build muscle, take creatine post-exercise because a study showed that both men and women increased the uptake of creatine in the muscles that were focused on when they consumed creatine immediately after exercising. Generally, creatine is safe to take and it is not common for individuals to feel stomach discomfort although it may cause nausea and muscle cramping. 

While there are many forms of creatine, creatine monohydrate has the highest efficacy for muscle phosphagen, whole body creatine retention and performance. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has stated that creatine monohydrate is the most effective form to improve high intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during exercise.

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