Creatine: The Golden Supplement

Creatine: The Golden Supplement

Creatine, in recent years, has gained increasing popularity amongst the fitness community for its benefits surrounding performance and body composition. However, there are also myths surrounding it and a general fear about what exactly IT is. In this post, we are going to look at what creatine is, what it does for you, and why no one should be scared of it.

What is creatine? Without getting too much into the nitty-gritty, creatine is an amino acid necessary for certain energy pathways in your body. Specifically, the creatine phosphate system helps to convert ADP into ATP (energy). While this is in layman’s terms, it helps us better understand creatine’s role. Furthermore, creatine monohydrate is generally the recommended form of the supplement over hydrochloride.

How much? The general daily recommendation is 5g/d without a loading phase. A loading phase can be applied however the benefits are marginal at best. When it comes to timing, it does not really matter as long as you hit that 5g daily. However, the creatine phosphate energy system is our short-term energy system so mixing creatine with your pre-workout is an easy way to remember to take it and makes the “most sense” if you’re considering timing. What I mean by that is, that the creatine phosphate system is our short and fast energy system it is used for things like weightlifting which are short duration relative to other exercises so by taking it prior to our workout we perhaps utilize it for that workout. However, as I previously stated, timing isn’t really the big player in this game as long as you remember to take it daily; pre-workout, post-workout, when you wake up, at lunch, it doesn’t matter.

What are the benefits? There are so many benefits to creatine supplementation and as research develops there are more being brought to light. To name a few: creatine has been shown to increase strength and power and increase muscle size (hypertrophy). Creatine benefits short-term recovery from exercise by showing decreased neuromuscular fatigue, or the fatigue you get from those heavy lifts like squats and deadlifts (Weavil & Amann, 2019), and via post-workout force production (Cooke et al., 2022). It even improves anaerobic capacity (Stone et al., 1999) These are some of the more external and tangible benefits however there are many more.

When it comes to things you haven’t necessarily thought of as far as benefits go…

Pregnant women: it shows improvements in fetal growth, development, and overall health during pregnancy by protecting the mother and child from the effects of hypoxia, inflammation, and the oxidative stresses of pregnancy and childbirth (Dickinson et al., 2014 and Ellery et al., 2016). However, it is not heavily researched yet in pregnant populations beyond research clinical/medical situations. It is considered safe for pregnant women via the ISSN position on creatine (Dickinson et al., 2014).

Brain: Creatine supplementation has demonstrated increases in cognitive function and improvements in aging as it relates to neurodegenerative disease outcomes (think Alzheimer’s)(Adhihetty & Beal, 2008). Also, creatine has been shown to help against the effects of cerebral ischemia (damage to the brain via decreased blood flow) outcomes (Adcock et al., 2003 and Allah Yar et al., 2015). However, these studies are mainly in animals which don’t necessarily correlate to humans they can provide valuable insight into the projected effects on humans and pave way to future, safe, human trials. That being said, creatine supplementation did help repair neural pathways and improve neurological function in mice following injuries which is quite remarkable in and of itself.

Tactical population: because of the performance benefits alone creatine should be considered as part of the nutrition of tactical populations. However, the neurological benefits should be considered as well. There are particularly high amounts of minor to severe TBI in tactical (specifically SOF) populations and the current research is moving toward improvements in rebuilding neural pathways affected by brain damage. Could this be a way to curve the effects of TBI? We will have to keep our eyes peeled on that one and follow the literature. That being said, the performance benefits creatine has, alone, should be a driving factor in considering it as a form of habitual supplementation for Special Operations members.

There are tons and tons of benefits to creatine and many myths also surrounding it. One of the most common amongst older age brackets is that it is a steroid which it is most certainly not. People have reported bloating however it is not supported by research and seems to be short-term (for the rare cases that it happens). Creatine does not cause dehydration, cramping and heat exhaustion (Lopez et al., 2009) and does not cause kidney dysfunction (Kuehl, 2000 and Gualano et al., 2008). It does not cause hair loss and is not unsafe for children. However, there is no scientific evidence that children should NOT take creatine thus implying its safety surrounding child-adolescent creatine supplementation. This is NOT me telling you that your kids should take creatine merely that the scientific evidence does not show it is unsafe for children. That being said, we will keep an eye on the developing research and we ask you to do the same.


Creatine is a very safe and well-researched supplement with virtually no negative side effects. It has countless benefits including improvements in body composition, strength, and muscle gain for males and females. I find it important to reiterate that it is great for females (Sasaki et al., 2001) and no it will not make you “bulky”. It’s benefits even extend to pregnant and elderly populations. At the end of the day, what is not to like about creatine? It is a supplement that I, personally, think everyone should take. Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician and this is not nutritional advice or prescription merely an article explaining the benefits of supplementation.

-Jared Bost




Adhihetty, P. J., & Beal, M. F. (2008, November 13). Creatine and its potential therapeutic value for targeting cellular energy impairment in Neurodegenerative Diseases - Neuromolecular Medicine. SpringerLink.

Adcock, K. H., Nedelcu, J., Loenneker, T., Martin, E., Wallimann, T., & Wagner, B. P. (2003, March 21). Neuroprotection of creatine supplementation in neonatal rats with transient cerebral hypoxia-ischemia. Karger Publishers.

Allah Yar, R., Akbar, A., & Iqbal, F. (2015). Creatine monohydrate supplementation for 10 weeks mediates neuroprotection and improves learning/memory following neonatal hypoxia ischemia encephalopathy in female albino mice. Brain Research, 1595, 92–100.

Cooke, M. B., Rybalka, E., Williams, A. D., Cribb, P. J., & Hayes, A. (2022, May 6). Creatine supplementation enhances Muscle Force recovery after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals. Taylor & Francis Online.

Cooper, R., Naclerio, F., Allgrove, J., & Jimenez, A. (2012, July 20). Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: An update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Dickinson, H., Ellery, S., Ireland, Z., LaRosa, D., Snow, R., & Walker, D. W. (2014, April 27). Creatine supplementation during pregnancy: Summary of experimental studies suggesting a treatment to improve fetal and neonatal morbidity and reduce mortality in high-risk human pregnancy. BMC pregnancy and childbirth.,are%20yet%20to%20be%20determined.

Ellery, S. J., Walker, D. W., & Dickinson, H. (2016). Creatine for women: A review of the relationship between creatine and the reproductive cycle and female-specific benefits of creatine therapy. Amino Acids, 48(8), 1807–1817.

Gualano, B., Ugrinowitsch, C., Novaes, R. B., Artioli, G. G., Shimizu, M. H., Seguro, A. C., Harris, R. C., & Lancha, A. H. (2008, January 11). Effects of creatine supplementation on renal function: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial - European Journal of Applied Physiology. SpringerLink.

Kuehl, K. (2000). Long-term oral creatine supplementation does not impair renal function in healthy athletes. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 248.

Lopez, R. M., Casa, D. J., McDermott, B. P., Ganio, M. S., Armstrong, L. E., & Maresh, C. M. (2009). Does creatine supplementation hinder exercise heat tolerance or hydration status? A systematic review with Meta-analyses. Journal of Athletic Training, 44(2), 215–223.

Sasaki, H., Hiruma, E., & Aoyama, R. (2001). Effects of creatine loading on muscular strength and endurance in female softball players. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 33(5).

Stone MH, Sanborn K, Smith LL, O'Bryant HS, Hoke T, Utter AC, Johnson RL, Boros R, Hruby J, Pierce KC, Stone ME, Garner B. Effects of in-season (5 weeks) creatine and pyruvate supplementation on anaerobic performance and body composition in American football players. Int J Sport Nutr. 1999;9:146–65.

Weavil, J. C., & Amann, M. (2019, August). Neuromuscular fatigue during whole body exercise. Current opinion in physiology.

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