The Incredible Benefits of Creatine You Don’t Know About
If you’ve been on the fence about taking creatine, you can’t miss this episode.
I’m busting a few myths and breaking down the research that shows why creatine is the most important supplement you're probably not taking. Yes, it’s critical for body composition and strength, but there are so many other benefits you may not even know about—the last one might really surprise you.
You’ll learn why women over 40 should add creatine to their routine, how it can help you as you head into menopause, and how to get started. Let’s dive in!
00:01:00 – Two of the most important things for healthy aging
00:03:19 – What the studies show about creatine and weight gain in women
00:04:36 – Here’s what happened when I went on creatine six months ago
00:07:00 – When you hear about these benefits, you’re going to be all in
00:10:10 – How and when to take creatine
Resources Mentioned in this episode
Watch the FULL VIDEO on my YouTube Channel
Study: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine
Study: Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Creatine Supplementation and Exercise Performance: An Update
Study: The American Journal of Psychiatry: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial of Oral Creatine Monohydrate Augmentation for Enhanced Response to a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor in Women With Major Depressive Disorder
Watch my next video: Best Strength Training Routine for Women Over 40 (+ Free Workout Plan!)
ATHE_Transcript_Ep 612_I Take Creatine Every Day and Here’s Why
JJ Virgin: [00:00:00] I'm JJ Virgin, PhD dropout, sorry mom, turned four time New York Times best selling author. Yes, I'm a certified nutrition specialist, fitness hall of famer, and I speak at health conferences and trainings around the globe. But I'm driven by my insatiable curiosity and love of science to keep asking questions, digging for answers, and sharing the information that I uncover with as many people as I can.
And that's why I created the Well Beyond 40 podcast to synthesize and simplify the science of health into actionable strategies to help you thrive. In each episode, we'll talk about what's working in the world of wellness, from personalized nutrition and healing your metabolism, to healthy aging and prescriptive fitness.
Join me on the journey to better health, so you can love how you look and feel right now and have the energy to play full out at 100.[00:01:00]
Two of the most important parts of healthy aging are muscle mass. And there's one supplement that helps menopausal women build both, creatine, and no, it's not just for bodybuilders. Let's talk about why this is the most important supplement you're probably not taking and why now, right now, is the best time to start.
So creatine is an amino acid stored in your Well, mainly in your skeletal muscle, but also in your brain and gut that your body uses for high energy activities like high intensity interval training and resistance training. Now, creatine is naturally occurring. Your body makes about a gram per day in your liver, and you also get it from the muscles of animals.
Like meat, chicken, and seafood. But the amount you need to get all of the benefits I'm going to share with you is pretty much impossible to get from diet alone, which is why it's such a popular supplement. In fact, [00:02:00] creatine monohydrate is the most steady supplement of all time. It's safe and effective, and the International Society of Sports Nutrition Declared that creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes with the intent of increasing high intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.
Hint, it's not just for athletes, right? I take it every single day and I think it is one of the four supplements women should be taking as they head into menopause. It turns out that women have 70 80 percent less tissue stores of creatine than men. And that we likely also get less from our diet as well.
And by the way, if you're vegan or vegetarian, you are definitely getting less. Now, because we're deficient, we often see a bigger impact from supplementation than men do. But when I say that, don't worry, I don't mean that you're going to get big. In fact, the studies show that unlike men, women don't usually [00:03:00] gain weight or get bigger with creatine.
And, if there is any weight gain, it's due to better muscle hydration, and you want that. It's a good thing. So, of course, DEXA, If you're using a bio impedance scale to track your body composition, and I hope you are, rather than focusing on weight alone, you're going to see this improvement in your total body water.
However, I want to reiterate that the studies show that women generally do not gain weight taking creatine. Now, I've been posting a lot about creatine on social, and I've noticed a lot of fear around this supplement. And to be honest, I think you should be way more concerned about not taking it. I've seen some pretty crazy urban legends around it, like issues with kidney function or bloating, and this is just not the case.
I think it is one of the most important supplements a 40 plus year old woman should be taking and for more than just body composition. Now while I'm going to focus first on body comp and strength, there are even more amazing benefits to [00:04:00] creatine that I'll share as well. So, first of all, creatine can help you work out harder and not fatigue as quickly.
We store creatine in our muscles as phosphocreatine. When you're doing that high intensity interval training or resistance training workout, your body generates energy in the form of ATP from phosphocreatine. ATP is broken down and energy is released. One study showed women having a 15 percent increase in exercise performance when supplementing with creatine for 10 weeks.
And by the way, men, they had only a 6 percent increase. Now I went on creatine six months ago and the change was noticeable. Now, not only did my strength increase noticeably, but I could also do more sets. So my husband and I go to the gym together and he now is consistently trying to find me and say, Hey, time to go home when it used to be the opposite.
I'm literally stronger now at 60 than I've ever been in my life. And I [00:05:00] credit that with finally getting on creatine. And I don't want you to wait like I did. Now, speaking of strength and muscle mass, besides improving performance and delaying fatigue, creatine can improve muscle mass and bone in menopausal women.
There was a meta analysis done of 13 studies that examined the effects of creatine supplementation and resistance exercise on muscle mass and other health indicators. In adults over the age of 50 years old, and it found that creatine supplementation, now important in combination with resistance exercise, right, no magic bullets, promotes muscle accretion and builds strength in older adults more effectively than just doing the resistance training.
Their analysis also revealed that creatine supplementation benefits bone health by increasing bone mineral density and improving the markers of bone biology. A recent meta analysis of 357 elderly individuals, I love that they say elderly is 64 years old. [00:06:00] I'm sorry, that is not elderly study. So, these people were participating in an average of 12 and a half weeks of resistance training and they found that participants supplementing their diet with creatine experienced greater gains in muscle mass, strength, and functional capacity.
These findings were corroborated in another meta analysis of 405 elderly participants, again, 64 years old, shame on them, who experienced greater gains in muscle mass and upper body strength with creatine supplementation during resistance training compared to just the training alone. So, what does all this mean?
This means that creatine supplementation can help you build muscle more than if you just did the resistance training. Why wouldn't you want to do that? No downside, all positive. And you know, as you age, you can lose muscle mass and creatine supplementation can help prevent that sarcopenia and bone loss that happens as we age.
Doesn't have to. Now, hopefully at this point, you're already convinced that this is something you'll want to add to your anti aging [00:07:00] arsenal. And if I haven't even gotten to the brain benefits yet, and when you hear these, you're going to be like, okay, now I'm all in. I'm always looking at things to help with brain.
I started recently searching creatine for my son, Grant, because he suffered a severe traumatic brain injury at 16. And we've done so many things. He's 27 now. He's doing well, but I always want the edge for him. And I'm always looking for anything that can help support his brain function. Now, I always thought of creatine, I'll be honest, for body composition and for sports performance.
Now, I started digging into the research and I found that it also improves cognitive function. And when I saw that, you can guess what I did. I immediately put him on it. Now, as I dug deeper into this, I realized that this is another reason. It's the perfect supplement for peri and postmenopausal women.
Women have been reported to have lower levels of creatine in the brain, not just our tissues, right, but also in the brain, particularly in the frontal lobe. And that frontal lobe controls your mood, your [00:08:00] cognition, your memory, and your emotions. As a result of these sex differences and brain creatine concentrations, supplementation may be even more effective for women for supporting a pro energetic environment in the brain.
Now, along with lower creatine levels in the brain, Women have double the depression that men do. And one review in 2021 on brain health and women found that women with a major depressive disorder who supplemented their daily antidepressant with five grams of creatine responded twice as fast. And experience remission of depression at twice the rate of women who only took the antidepressant.
And, of course, we're not even talking about the body count benefits, right? So creatine can also help the brain function better under times of stress. Who doesn't have that? And sleep deprivation. Now, brain activity results in a rapid reduction than those phosphocreatine levels that I talked about earlier that you need to maintain ATP levels to make brain energy.
Therefore, when you're [00:09:00] under times of high mental stress, those require higher phosphocreatine demand, higher ATP turnover could be impaired during those times, and creatine supplementation can support greater neural ATP resynthesis. Which means you got a cognitive advantage for tasks that rely on all those frontal cortex tasks, things like cognition and attention and memory.
Creatine supplementation in humans has consistently demonstrated improved cognitive performance and improved brain function and reduced mental fatigue during stressful times. So not only will you be able to work out harder, which helps build muscle, you'll reduce the risk of sarcopenia, you'll better bone health, And, you'll have better brain function, and that isn't even all of it.
Studies show that creatine can also help protect the skin from UV exposure, create new skin cells, help the skin stay hydrated, and reduce wrinkles and increase firmness. Now, this is early, [00:10:00] early intel, and most of this is using creatine topically, so we're gonna have to watch and see what happens there, but, you know, if you're putting it on or taking it in, I don't really see the difference.
The big question here is, how much should I take? When should I take it? So again, creatine monohydrate's the form I want you to take because it's been the most studied and the recommended doses generally for women are somewhere in the three to five grams. If you're 120 pounds or less, let's start at three grams.
If you're… Above that, go to five grams. There's a whole thing where you can do loading doses of creatine to get your tissue saturated faster, like in five to seven days, or you can just get on it. And in about a month, you're going to reach that tissue saturation. And that's when you're really going to start to feel the effects of it.
There is some evidence to suggest that taking it before a workout could help, but I'm guessing that's because those people didn't have tissue saturation yet. My recommendation is to take it consistently every single [00:11:00] day. And that means just take it when you're going to take it. For me, I like to use the powdered form and put it into my loaded smoothie every morning, but I also have capsules.
So if I'm traveling and I'm not doing my smoothie, I still stay on it. I am like crazy vigilant about not missing a dose on this. Cause I really want to make sure I keep my tissue stores up mainly. Because I have noticed a massive difference in taking this. And you know, with so many supplements, you take it, you don't feel any different, not with this one, such a big difference.
And I want you to have that feeling too. I want to help you feel your healthiest, your happiest, your strongest self. Because remember, as you age, it's not just aging gracefully. In fact, forget that. I want you to be able to age powerfully and creatine is huge for this. And now that you know how to supplement to support your muscles, you're going to need to start working them out, right?
Remember all the studies I just cited said creatine plus resistance training. So to help you get started, [00:12:00] watch this next video where I help you walk through my resistance training routine so you know exactly what to do. And when to do it to get the best results. Be sure to join me next time for more tools, tips, and techniques you can incorporate into everyday life to ensure you look and feel great.
And more importantly, that you're built to last and check me out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my website, jjvirgin.com and make sure to follow my podcast. So you don't miss a single episode at subscribetojj.com. See you next time.