Creatine Isn’t Only for Athletes, Bro

Readers of The Trading Edge know that I strongly believe that trading well is akin to peak performance.

However sustained peak performance is only available to us when there is a strong congruence between mind, body, and technique.

In this guest post, guest contributor Mansal Denton, gives a new spin on one of the most popular and scientifically proven supplements – creatine.

Mansal Denton is an avid biohacker and his new venture, Hyperion Strength, focuses on optimizing performance for both mind and body.


Millions of athletes and bodybuilders take creatine as a supplement to get bigger, stronger, and perform better in athletics. Yet, most high performance traders, lawyers, and doctors don’t realize the cognitive advantages of taking creatine are profound.

For the same reason an athlete can utilize creatine to improve his muscle mass, you can use it to work more efficiently, improve reasoning skills, and mental endurance. It is no wonder Jesse Lawler of Smart Drug Smarts recommends creatine monohydrate as the number one beginner nootropic!

Improving Energy in Brain and Body

From a scientific perspective, creatine monohydrate is converted in the body into ATP (or energy). By saturating each cell with additional creatine, it is possible to improve ATP levels across your body. By having more energy, bodybuilders and athletes are able to lift more weight, more often, and perform more efficiently as a unit.  energy

The brain works in exactly the same way; supplemental creatine can improve brain creatine levels around 8% with some seeing benefits of 13.3%. [1] Therefore, brain cells can activate more energy, which obviously has effects for your work day.

Studies on sleep deprivation showed that creatine supplementation could enhance executive function. [2] Because sleep deprivation can deplete energy stores in the brain, taking creatine on a consistent basis can counteract some of these problems.

For reasoning and IQ demanding tasks, creatine can also improve performance based on assessments on fMRI brain scans. The memory span showed increases as did other tests. [3]

Creatine for Elderly and Vegetarians

If you are either a vegetarian/vegan or are starting to increase in age, creatine is even more important for adequate brain function. Without some creatine through animal products, vegans and vegetarians often have declining mental function. Studies on omnivores showed drastic improvements in memory and “white matter” tissue in the brain. [4]

Fears and Getting Started

There are some common misconceptions about creatine monohydrate that have pervaded discussion of the supplement. One is the common fear that creatine can cause kidney problems or even failure; no studies have showed this to be the case. The creatine side effects [5] are not nearly as pronounced as many make them out to be. A study on those with a single kidney showed no adverse effects with a high dose of 20 grams per day. [6] Other studies showed no adverse effects as well. If you have a history of renal problems, speak to a doctor beforehand, however.

Loading Phase

A common way to get started with creatine monohydrate is to use a creatine loading phase [7]. This consists of taking 20 grams of creatine monohydrate per day for 5 – 7 days. This allows your body to saturate cells with creatine, which is required before any real benefits are seen.

Sometimes this can cause gastrointestinal problems especially without consuming enough water. If you are planning to use this loading phase to see results (for brain or body) quicker, just be sure to drink enough water and be wary if you have diarrhea, nausea, or cramping.

Normal Dosage

If you don’t want to start with the loading phase of 20 grams per day, you can go to a normal dosage of 5 grams per day. It will take around 2 weeks to see real tangible benefits of taking the creatine, but it will be worth it once the phase is over. The advantage here is that you usually have less problems with gastrointestinal issues. Still, it is important to drink more water than you normally would without creatine supplementation.

Creatine Nutrient Interactions

Studies show that creatine is best taken with carbohydrates because of the insulin response and the body’s ability to shuttle creatine into muscle and brain cells. [8] However, recent studies suggest fenugreek (an all-natural herb) can be used instead of carbohydrates to get the same response. [9] For athletes or professionals who prefer low carbohydrate diets, this is perfect for maximizing the efficiency of creatine.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10484486
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17046034
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20570601
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16377978
[5] http://www.hyperionstrength.com/pages/creatine-side-effects-a-full-analysis
[6] http://examine.com/supplements/Creatine/#summary14-4
[7] http://hyperionstrength.com/pages/the-ultimate-guide-to-creatine-monohydrate-loading
[8] http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/271/5/E821
[9] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3761853/

Creatine Isn’t Only for Athletes, Bro

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