As a FLEX reader, you should be familiar with the majority of the benefits that creatine is almost guaranteed to deliver: increased muscle growth, greater muscle strength and even better muscle endurance. On top of that, creatine has been found to enhance cognitive function and memory, protect against brain injury and even provide a long list of health benefits, such as helping in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and depression. It can also aid cardiovascular health, and enhance skin cells’ protection from sun and oxidative damage.
Now, new research shows that creatine has even more unexpected benefits, such as preventing muscle loss during layoffs from the gym, decreasing blood-sugar levels — and possibly even prolong your life!
THE STUDIES Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio) researchers immobilized one arm in a full-length cast for one week while subjects consumed 5 grams of creatine four times per day, then immobilized the other arm while they took a placebo (5 g of maltodextrin four times per day). When the subjects received creatine, they increased their arm-muscle mass in the immobilized arm by 1%, but lost 4% in arm-muscle size when they took the placebo. Additionally, when they took creatine, they only lost 4% strength in the biceps and triceps; when they took the placebo, they lost about 20% strength in the biceps and triceps.
In another study, University of São Paulo (Brazil) researchers had subjects take either 10 g of creatine per day or 10 g of a placebo (dextrose) for three months while following an aerobic training program. The researchers found that the subjects taking creatine had lower blood glucose (blood sugar) levels due to the creatine pulling more glucose out of the bloodstream and into muscle cells. This aids gains in muscle size, because glucose also pulls more water into muscles. It can also help you train harder, because you’ll have higher levels of stored glucose (glycogen) in your muscles. It can help you burn more fat, because you’ll have less blood glucose, which means less glucose stored as fat. In a third study, German researchers gave mice either supplemental creatine in their diet or a plain diet without extra creatine. They found that the mice receiving the added creatine had an increased lifespan — 10% more than the mice not receiving creatine.
DOSAGE Take 2-5 g of creatine — depending on the form you use — with your pre- and postworkout shakes within 30 minutes before and after training. On rest days, take one dose of creatine with your morning meal. During layoffs from the gym, continue taking one dose of creatine with your morning meal to help you better maintain your muscle size and strength.