Can Creatine Improve Memory And Cognition?

As we’ve discussed in other articles, even flawless lifestyle and nutrition practices will leave inevitable nutritional gaps, so supplementation is invaluable for ensuring optimal health and vitality. 

Of all the essential supplements that we recommend for daily supplementation, creatine monohydrate is the one most likely to evoke confusion or skepticism. If you think creatine is just a GNC staple for bodybuilders looking to put on more muscle, you’re in good company. 

The reality, however, is that creatine is one of the most powerful and underrated supplements available for supporting metabolism and improving cognition. 

What Is Creatine and Why Do We Need It?

Creatine is an endogenously produced (i.e. produced naturally by our bodies) amino acid that is present in every one of your cells. It is absolutely critical for metabolism and energy production—it’s not an exaggeration to say that without it, the body would quickly die. 

Here’s how it works: In order to power the enzymes that perform thousands of metabolic functions throughout the body, an “energy” compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is required. ATP “gives” a phosphate ion to enzymes and is thereby degraded into inactive adenosine diphosphate (ADP). To become useful for further energy production, ADP must be rephosphorylated; that is, it must be converted back to ATP by reacquiring a phosphate ion. 

You probably see where this is going: creatine is the compound responsible for rephosphorylating inactive ADP to active ATP. Consequently, there is no enzymatic activity or energy production (and thus no life) without creatine.  

What Creatine Does in the Brain

Creatine’s metabolic benefits are usually referenced in the context of physiological performance, but they extend to cognitive performance too. 

In fact, the effects of creatine supplementation on cognition are particularly dramatic, because the brain requires a lot of energy to function. For the average adult in a resting state, the brain uses 20 percent of the body’s total energy. 

During states of activity and mental exertion, or in the context of nutritional deficiency, illness, or cognitive decline, the percentage can be even higher. [1]

If you’re wondering what “dramatic” effects look like, here’s an example: a 2003 study found that six weeks of daily creatine supplementation was linked with a 20% average increase in IQ (compared to the placebo group, in which there was no significant change). [2]

The study participants were all vegetarians and vegans, who lack the dietary creatine that omnivores get from eating meat, hence the dramatic results.

Subsequent studies have confirmed these positive effects on cognition, and shown that the benefits extend to those of all ages and diets, not only vegetarians. A 2018 review of randomized controlled trials reports that creatine supplementation is correlated with definitive cognitive improvements, especially for short-term memory and measured intelligence/reasoning. [3]

The improvements are most impressive for vegetarians and vegans (again, no dietary creatine intake), the elderly, and those in cognitive decline (age-related or otherwise). [4][5]

Supplementation Recommendations

For us, the effects of daily creatine supplementation are undeniable. If you give it a try, you will very likely feel stronger, think more clearly, and experience more balanced energy and vitality. We highly recommend sticking with the regimen for at least the duration of the study cited above (six weeks) before assessing whether you’re experiencing the benefits.

To start, aim for 5 grams/day of creatine monohydrate. This dosage is a good average for most people, but if you’d like to get more granular, we recommend starting with 1g of creatine per 15kg of body weight (which would translate to 4g/day for someone weighing 130 pounds, and 6g/day for someone weighing 180 pounds, etc).

Our favorite brand is Creapure, which is unflavored, unsweetened, and very affordable. We always add our dose to our daily Genesis shake.







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