The good news?
Creatine is not addictive.
The bad news?
If you use it to improve your body image you may come to find yourself reliant on it.
How long should you take a creatine supplement for?
As outlined in the blog posts prior, guidelines for taking creatine were mentioned.
Below is a recap of how much creatine you should take depending what stage you are at while taking the supplementation.
- Loading Phase: A creatine loading phase can help you accomplish maximum muscle storage within one week or less. In order to prepare yourself for the loading phase you need to take 20 grams of creatine everyday for the next 5 to 7 days to allow your muscles to be saturated rapidly.
- You then should then take 2 to 10 grams daily to maintain these high levels. The benefits to the loading phase are vast, Makayla Meixner MS, RDN, writes for Healthline. Those benefits may include: increased strength and gains, improved athletic performance, and a reduced risk of sport related injuries.
- How To Dose: According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, (the ISSN), they suggest that 5 grams of creatine, taken 4 times daily for 5 to 7 days is the most effective way to increase those muscle creatine levels. Though the amount may vary depending on your weight. You can determine the daily dose that’s right for you by multiplying your weight in kilograms by 0.3.
- Here’s an example: A person who weighs 80 kilograms, (which is 175 pounds, you can convert your weight using a conversion system on Google), would consume 24 grams of creatine each day. As 80 times 0.3 equals 24. Again it is mentioned that this only needs to be taken daily for 28 days until your muscles become fully saturated, then you may switch to a lower level to maintain all your hard work.
- Keep in mind, that once you stop taking creatine your levels will gradually decrease on their own.
Can taking creatine affect your brain?
The website Science Daily was happy to report that research conducted by scientists at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University in Australia found that taking creatine as a dietary supplement could give a significant boost to both working memory and overall general intelligence.
Dr. Caroline Rae who led the study chose 20 vegan or vegetarians participants for this theory to be tested on. The reasoning for this is because those who eat meat on the daily already obtain a higher level of creatine.
(Though to reach the level of supplementation they would have to eat up to 2 Kilograms or almost 4.5 pounds of meat daily)
Dr. Rae had a theory that we already know how creatine plays an important role in the energy levels of the brain, so a hypothesis was formed that a dietary supplement of creatine could also assist overall brain function.
The group was split in half, one group got the creatine supplement, and the other received a placebo for six weeks, followed by a six week period with no intake by either group,
and the final part of the experiment was six weeks where the placebo group and the creatine group swapped.
Then throughout the trial intelligence and memory were tested at four crucial points: the start of the trial, the end of the first six week trial, and finally the start and the end of the last six week period.
Dr. Rae was confident to report that creatine supplementation gave a significant and measurable boost to brain power. In one notable test that was used to compare memory, a string of numbers was given to both groups.
Those who had taken the creatine recalled on average 8.5 numbers, while those who had not been given the supplement remembered 7. Dr. Rae feels taking creatine long term may make you “less social of a person”, but she foresees university students taking it for a short term boost in mental performance.
Dr. Rae goes on to explain that when you “increase the available energy for computation you in turn increase the power of the brain.” This is then reflected in the improved overall general ability of your brain.
Other medical professionals such as Stephen W. Scheff, PhD, feels that taking creatine supplementation as a “brain booster” is still a very premature subject that needs further looking into.
Dr. Scheff agrees that when taken daily as a supplement it does increase athletic performance.
He then found in a study conducted in 2000 that when taken, it protected against traumatic brain injuries in people who were already supplementing and using it prior to the injuries that they sustained.
The opinions of these two doctors vary greatly on the topic of whether using it to aid in a boost of memory for an exam would be beneficial or not.
Dr. Rae feels that if you take it several weeks before your exam, it might aid your memory and then help with memory recall when you are actually taking the exam. Dr. Rae tells WebMD, “This is really the first supplement that actually boosts cognitive performance with very few deleterious side effects”.
Dr. Scheff on the other hand is not exactly a believer in the memory boosting power of creatine. He tells WebMD that he feels, “this is really just a theory at this point”, and “Someone who wants to do well on an exam would be better off studying for 20 minutes a day, including Saturdays and Sundays.”
Other important information about creatine
Again, creatine is not addictive, but you can find yourself feeling reliant or dependent on creatine to give yourself a boost of self confidence.
You may only associate looking and feeling good with taking a creatine supplement, and this is an unhealthy cycle to get into.
There are resources to help.
You can try and talk to others who were taking it and gain experience from there, try counseling, or you could even try acupuncture.
Acupuncture has been said to increase awareness of your body, help reset it, and just help you regain a semblance of balance in your life.
After all, you’ve probably been training pretty hard, you deserve some time to relax.