Creatine is one of the world’s most effective sports supplements.
It has been tested in hundreds of human studies, and is one of the most researched supplements in history.
Not only that, but it is also extremely safe and has no serious side effects.
Here are 10 graphs that show the power of creatine.
1. Increases Your Phosphocreatine Stores
Source: Hultman E, et al. Muscle Creatine Loading in Men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 1996.
Greater phosphocreatine stores in the brain also protect against neurological diseases. They may also improve brain function in those with lower than average stores, such as the elderly and vegetarians (2, 7, 8).
As shown in the graph above, the average person will increase their phosphocreatine stores by around 20% following a typical 6-day creatine load of 20 grams per day (9).
However, those who have higher levels to begin with may not receive a significant increase in these stores and therefore see little or no benefit from supplements.
Bottom Line: Creatine supplements increase the body’s phosphocreatine stores by around 20%, providing numerous health and performance benefits.
2. Can Double Muscle Mass Compared to Training Alone
Source: Steven L, et al. Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Physiology, 1985.
One review analyzed over 250 studies on sports supplements. As shown in the graph, adding creatine more than doubled the amount of muscle that participants gained per week, compared to training alone (1).
Bottom Line: Creatine is the best legal supplement for adding muscle. Several studies show it can double muscle growth compared to training alone.
3. Increases Individual Muscle Fiber Size
Source: Volek JS, et al. Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1999.
As shown in the graph above, this study found that the addition of creatine increased muscle fiber growth by up to 300%, compared to training alone (13).
These benefits occurred in both the slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fiber types (14).
After 12 weeks, this study also found that total body mass gain doubled, and bench press and squat 1 rep max increased 8% more than with training alone (13).
Bottom Line: Creatine supplements can help increase muscle fiber size, as well as the water content within the muscle.
4. Improves Weight Training Performance
Source: Earnest CP, et al. The effect of creatine monohydrate ingestion on anaerobic power indices, muscular strength and body composition. The Journal of Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 1995.
In the graph above, this particular study found a large increase in bench press strength after combining creatine supplements with weight training (17).
In addition to increased strength, this study found that the supplement group increased its number of repetitions from 11 to 15 when benching at 70% of 1 rep max. This higher rep count plays a major role in new muscle growth (20).
Bottom Line: When combined with weight training, creatine can further boost strength and weight training performance.
5. May Increase Sprint Performance
Source: Mujika I, et al. Creatine supplementation and sprint performance in soccer players. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 2000.
As is the case with strength training, high-intensity sprints utilize the ATP energy system for fuel (16).
In the study above, highly-trained soccer players supplemented with 20 grams of creatine for 6 days. The dosage protocol was four 5-gram servings per day (23).
As shown in the graph, 15-meter sprint times were reduced after only 6 days of loading with creatine. It also improved recovery and helped the athletes maintain jumping performance (23).
Bottom Line: Creatine can boost all aspects of high-intensity exercise, including sprint performance.
6. Reduces Cognitive Decline in the Elderly
Source: McMorris T, et al. Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals. Journal of Neuropsychology, Development and Cognition, 2007.
In this graph, elderly participants scored significantly higher on long-term memory tests after only 2 weeks of supplementing with creatine.
They also scored higher on immediate memory recall and intelligence tests (28).
Bottom Line: Your creatine stores decline with age. Supplements can restore these levels and boost memory and intelligence in the elderly.
7. Improves Cognitive Function for Those with Low Creatine Stores
Source: Rae C, et al. Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Journal of Biological Sciences, 2003.
Creatine supplements can improve brain function for those with low creatine levels.
This study tested vegetarians, who often have lower levels because they do not eat meat, which is the main dietary source of creatine (30).
As shown in the graph, the vegetarians taking the supplement scored significantly higher on both memory and intelligence tests (30).
Bottom Line: Creatine may boost both memory and intelligence in those with low levels, such as vegetarians.
8. Reduces the Side Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Source: Sakellaris G, et al. Prevention of traumatic headache, dizziness and fatigue with creatine administration. A pilot study. Journal of Acta Paediatrica, 2007.
This study assessed children with traumatic brain injuries after 6 months of supplementing with creatine. As you can see in the graph, fatigue, dizziness and headaches were drastically reduced (35).
This benefit may be due to an increase in the brain’s phosphocreatine stores and maintenance of normal ATP levels, both of which often decline following a traumatic brain injury (35).
While impressive, more research is needed to confirm the use of creatine as a treatment for traumatic brain injuries.
Bottom Line: Initial research suggests that creatine can significantly reduce the adverse effects of traumatic brain injury.
9. May Slow the Progression of Parkinson’s Disease
Source: Matthews RT, et al. Creatine and cyclocreatine attenuate MPTP neurotoxicity. Journal of Experimental Neurology, 1999.
Parkinson’s disease is primarily caused by a decline in a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which has many key functions within the brain (36).
Creatine supplements have been shown to slow the progression of the disease by slowing the decline of dopamine levels (37).
As you can see above, this mouse study found the non-supplement group had a drastic decline in dopamine levels, while the creatine group had only minor reductions (37).
Although these results are impressive, more research is needed in humans to confirm the long-term benefits against Parkinson’s disease (38).
Bottom Line: In mice, creatine supplements can help maintain normal dopamine levels and reduce the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
10. May Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Source: Gualanob B, et al. Effects of creatine supplementation on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in sedentary healthy males undergoing aerobic training. Journal of Amino Acids, 2008.
This study tested the use of creatine when combined with aerobic exercise (39).
It was conducted in healthy individuals, which demonstrates a benefit for the general population and not just diabetics.
Bottom Line: Creatine supplements may help reduce blood sugar levels after a meal, especially when combined with exercise.
Take Home Message
As you can see, creatine is an extremely impressive supplement with benefits extending far beyond improved exercise performance and muscle growth.
Backed by over a century of research, creatine is without a doubt one of the most effective supplements on the planet.
There is a lot more info on creatine here: Creatine 101 – What is it and What Does it do?