Creatine improves cognitive & physical function, and body composition

creatine

In two recent studies, researchers showed that not only could creatine potentially improve body composition and physical function in adults, but also that can prevent declines in cognitive performance and metabolic changes during sleep deprivation.

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Body Composition & Physical Performance

In a recent meta-analysis of 33 randomized controlled studies, researchers looked at the effect of creatine with or without exercise on physical function in 1,076 adults aged 44 to 72. The researchers measured in tems of a sit-to-stand test, muscle strenght test (handgrip, leg press, chest press), and took measures of lean body mass.

The studies examined were run from five days to 32 weeks. In 21 of the studies, researchers used a creatine loading dose of 7-20 grams per day for 5-14 days, with a maintenance dose of 3-20 grams per day. The control was a placebo or no creatine. Some of the studies combined the creatine use with exercise: 17 used resistance training, 2 used combined aerobic and resistance training, 2 used pulmonary rehabilitation, and 1 used whole-body vibration training.

Creatine was shown to increase lean mass both with or without exercise, although it increased lean mass more when combined with exercise. Some tests – the sit-to-stand and bench press strength – showed improvement only when creatine was used in combination with exercise. In handgrip strength tests, creatine was shown to only improve in studies not involving concurrent exercise.

To read the full study, visit: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38417175/


Cognitive Function

Another recent study looked at whether creatine can prevent declines in cognitive performance and metabolic changes during sleep deprivation.

Researchers looked at 15 young adults (average age of 23; 8 women and 7 men) without any sleep-related disorders or neurological conditions, and performed several tests to assess, including cognitive performance on the Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), Word Memory Test (WMT), Forward Memory Digit Span Test (SPAN), spatial N-Back test, and multiple choice tasks in language, logic, and numeric skills. They assessed fatigue and sleepiness, as well as looked at levels of creatine, phosphocreatine, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and inorganic phosphates (Pi) in the brain.

In one instance, subjects took 0.35 grams per kilo of body weightIn one condition before sleep deprivation and in the other, they were given a placebo. A minimum of 5 days separated each condition. Researchers collected a baseline at 6 p.m. for the cognitive performance tests the subjects would go through several times over the course of the night, and then subjects performed these tests alongside questionnaires related to sleepiness and fatigue and brain imaging, at 12 a.m., 2 a.m., and 4 a.m., when participants had ben awake for about 12, 18, 20 and 22 hours.

All of the participants maintained a normal sleep-wake schedule for 2 weeks before and throughout the study (bedtime at approximately 11 p.m. and wake time at approximately 7 a.m.) and avoided caffeine and alcohol for 48 hours prior to each study visit.

As you would expect, sleepiness and fatigue increased throughout the night, and the performance on the cognitive tests declined. Brain pH levels measured by MRI were lower (indicating higher acidity) at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. compared to baseline, as well as a reduction in the ratio of phosphocreatine to free phosphate (PCr/Pi).

A single high dose of creatine seemed to improve cognitive performance and changes in brain energy, and in response to sleep deprivation and creatine, sleepiness and fatigue progressively declined throughout the night. That said, performance on the language, logic, and numeric tasks IMPROVED during the night, compared to baseline. Creatine supplementation increased brain creatine levels by about 5%. Compared to the placebo, creatine was shown to reduce fatigue by 8% at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., and improve performance on the cognitive tests by 18%, 29%, 16% and 24%, respectively, when all three time points were averaged. Creatine also prevented the changes in the PCr/Pi ratio and pH when compared to the placebo condition, as shown by the MRI results.

To read the full study, visit: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-024-54249-9

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