Creatine: Nootropic Benefits, Uses, Dosage, & Side Effects

Overview of creatine as a nootropic, focusing on its cognitive benefits, usage, and potential side effects.

In this comprehensive article, we unravel the secrets of Creatine, a popular amino acid celebrated for its remarkable ability to boost muscle mass and enhance athletic performance.

Known for its role in energy production, particularly in muscle cells, Creatine has become a go-to supplement for athletes aiming to amplify their exercise performance.

Whether you’re an athlete seeking to boost your muscular prowess or simply curious about the health advantages of this high-energy supplement, our in-depth review provides valuable insights into the world of Creatine and its impact on the body.

Join us as we explore how Creatine, a cornerstone in the realm of sports nutrition, can help improve your health and athletic achievements!

What is Creatine?

Creatine (also known by brand names Amidinosarcosine, Creatine Phosphate, Creatine Citrate, Creatine Monohydrate, and N-amidinosarcosine) is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain foods and produced in the human body, primarily in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.

It’s made from three amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine plays a crucial role in energy production, particularly in muscle cells.

In the body, Creatine is primarily stored in skeletal muscle, where it’s used to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy carrier. During short bursts of high-intensity activity, such as sprinting or weight lifting, ATP is rapidly depleted.

Creatine helps replenish ATP, thereby providing energy and improving performance in these types of activities.

Creatine can draw more water into muscle cells, increasing muscle mass and size. This effect also helps with muscle recovery and growth.

Numerous studies have shown that Creatine enhances performance in high-intensity, short-duration exercises, like sprinting and powerlifting.(1)

Regular supplementation with Creatine can lead to increased muscle strength, aiding in overall athletic performance and strength training.

Some research suggests that Creatine has nootropic effects, enhancing cognitive function, especially in situations of mental fatigue or sleep deprivation.(2)


  • Increases lean muscle mass, strength, and endurance
  • Improves muscle performance in high-intensity, short-duration exercises
  • Quick regeneration of ATP (adenosine triphosphate)
  • Boosts cognitive functions such as memory and mental alertness


  • Potential to cause water retention in the muscles, leading to weight gain and a bloated feeling
  • This supplement needs to be taken consistently over time for maximum effectiveness

Mechanism of Action

Creatine’s mechanism of action is primarily centered around its role in energy production in muscle cells. Understanding this process involves a look into cellular biochemistry, particularly how cells generate and use energy during physical activity.

Here’s a breakdown of how Creatine works:

  • Creatine Phosphate (CP): In the muscles, Creatine is stored as Creatine Phosphate (or phosphocreatine). CP is a high-energy molecule that quickly donates a phosphate group to ADP (adenosine diphosphate), regenerating ATP to support mental and physical health.
  • Rapid ATP Resynthesis: The immediate availability of ATP translates to improved performance in activities requiring short bursts of high energy, such as weight lifting or sprinting. It allows for longer sustainment of peak performance in these activities. Additionally, by improving ATP availability in the brain, Creatine enhances brain function, especially under stress or sleep deprivation.
  • Cellular Hydration: Creatine increases the water content within muscle cells, a process known as cellular hydration.(3) This not only contributes to muscle growth (cell volumization) but also works to support muscle muscle protein synthesis.
  • Reduction in Muscle Acidosis: During intense exercise, hydrogen ions accumulate, contributing to muscle fatigue. Creatine helps to buffer these ions, delaying fatigue.
  • Glucose Metabolism: Some evidence suggests Creatine might enhance Glucose metabolism, aiding in energy production during exercise.

Nootropic Benefits of Creatine

Creatine monohydrate, while predominantly recognized for its muscle-enhancing properties, also offers several nootropic benefits, impacting cognitive function and overall brain health.

These cognitive effects are increasingly being studied and understood.

Here’s a closer look at the nootropic benefits of Creatine!

1. Improves Memory and Processing Speed

Studies have shown that Creatine supplementation is able to enhance memory and increase processing speed, especially in tasks requiring rapid mental exertion.(4)

This effect is particularly noticeable in situations of mental fatigue or sleep deprivation.

2. Improves Mental Clarity and Alertness

Creatine appears to be beneficial in maintaining cognitive performance in stressful situations, such as during sleep deprivation or demanding mental tasks.

3. Boosts Brain Energy Metabolism

Creatine plays a critical role in energy metabolism in the brain, similar to its role in muscles. By increasing the availability of ATP in the brain, creatine can support enhanced neurological function.

4. Potentially Treats Neurodegenerative Diseases

Preliminary research suggests that creatine might have a protective effect against neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, possibly by supporting energy metabolism and reducing oxidative stress in the brain cells.(5)

5. Regulates Depression and Mood Disorders

Some studies indicate that Creatine has a positive impact on mood and could be a complementary therapy for treating certain mood disorders, including depression.(6) This is thought to be due to its energy-boosting effects on the brain.

6. Prevents Cognitive Decline

As people age, there’s a natural decline in muscle mass and brain function. Creatine supplementation may help mitigate this decline by supporting ATP synthesis in both muscles and brain cells.

9. Increases Neurotransmitter Synthesis

Creatine also influences the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which are critical for brain communication and overall cognitive function.(7)

Uses of Creatine

Creatine is a versatile supplement widely used for various purposes, primarily due to its role in energy metabolism and muscle function.

Here are some of the primary uses of Creatine:

  • High-Intensity Workouts: Creatine is particularly beneficial in improving performance in high-intensity, short-duration exercises like sprinting, weightlifting, and interval training.
  • Explosive Power: Athletes in sports that require bursts of speed and power, such as track and field, football, and basketball, often use Creatine to increase energy levels and enhance their explosive performance.
  • Bodybuilding: Creatine is a staple in bodybuilding for its ability to improve muscle mass and increase strength, making it easier to build and maintain a muscular physique.
  • Improved Resistance Training: Athletes use Creatine because it aids in recovery and muscle growth when combined with resistance training exercises for increased endurance.
  • Reduced Fatigue: Creatine helps delay fatigue during exercise, allowing for longer and more intense training sessions and a rapid increase in body weight.
  • Faster Recovery: Post-exercise recovery is enhanced with Creatine, reducing muscle damage and soreness.
  • Enhancing Cognitive Function: Creatine improves memory and processing speed, especially in situations of sleep deprivation or mental fatigue.
  • Preventing Neurodegenerative Diseases: Preliminary research indicates potential benefits in slowing the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.(8)
  • Aging Population: Creatine is great for older adults who want to enhance their muscle function. This is for maintaining mobility and reducing the risk of falls.
  • A Dietary Supplement: Some diets are typically low in Creatine. Taking Creatine supplements may improve an individual’s diet and quality of life. Creatine therapy is particularly advantageous for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Treating Muscle Disorders: Creatine is being explored for its potential in treating muscle dystrophies and similar conditions where muscle strength and function are compromised.(9)
  • Promoting Mental Health: Some studies suggest a role for creatine in managing certain mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, though more research is needed.(10)

Where to Buy Creatine

In the quest to benefit from Creatine’s effects on muscle gain, and cognitive health, we have searched far and wide to find the best source of this popular muscle-buidling supplement.

Our top pick for the best online vendor of Creatine is

This reliable online company provides to-your-door shipping, a money-back guarantee, affordable prices, and excellent customer support.

Every available product has undergone third-party testing to ensure safety and efficacy, providing you with the highest chance of optimal results.

Creatine Dosage

The optimal dosage of Creatine varies from person to person.

However, there is a general guideline for Creatine supplementation.

Loading Phase:

  • Purpose: To rapidly saturate the muscles with creatine.
  • Duration: Usually 5-7 days.
  • Dosage: About 20 grams per day, divided into 4 servings of 5 grams each. This high dose is intended to quickly increase muscle creatine stores.

Maintenance Phase:

  • Purpose: To maintain elevated levels of creatine in the muscles.
  • Duration: Indefinite, as long as supplementation is desired.
  • Dosage: 3-5 grams daily of Creatine. This amount is sufficient to maintain the Creatine levels achieved during the loading phase.

Alternative Approach (No Loading): Some individuals opt for a no-loading approach, taking 3-5 grams per day right from the start. This method will increase muscle creatine stores more gradually but is less likely to cause side effects like bloating.

The standard Creatine supplementation strategy involves a high-dose loading phase followed by a lower-dose maintenance phase.

However, a gradual approach without loading is also effective.

The key is to tailor the dosage to individual needs and goals, and always ensure adequate hydration.

Creatine Side Effects and Safety

Creatine is widely considered safe for most people when used as directed.

The most common side effects are minor and manageable, such as:

  • Water retention
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Muscle cramps

Some safety concerns with Creatine treatment include:

  • Kidney Stress: While creatine is generally safe for healthy individuals, there have been concerns about potential kidney stress or damage, particularly with long-term use or high doses.
  • Pre-existing Conditions: Individuals with pre-existing kidney or liver conditions should consult a healthcare provider before starting creatine supplementation.
  • Hydration: Adequate hydration is essential while taking creatine, as it can affect fluid balance in the body.
  • Quality of Supplements: The quality and purity of Creatine supplements can vary. It’s important to choose a reputable brand to avoid contaminants or additives.
  • Age Considerations: While adult use is well-studied, there is less research on the safety and efficacy of creatine in adolescents. Caution and professional guidance are recommended for younger individuals.
  • Interactions with Medications: Creatine may interact with certain medications, so it’s important to discuss with a healthcare provider if you are on medication.

Overall, studies on long-term Creatine use (up to several years) have generally found it to be safe in healthy individuals.(11) However, more research is needed on the very long-term (decades) use and prolonged effectiveness of Creatine.


In conclusion, Creatine stands out as a remarkable sports performance booster in the world of muscle-building supplements, transcending the boundaries of athletic circles to offer benefits that cater to a wide range of individuals.

From boosting muscle mass and enhancing athletic performance to aiding cognitive function and offering neuroprotective properties, Creatine monohydrate supplementation has impressive versatility.

Its ability to rapidly replenish ATP, the energy currency of the cell, makes it a valuable asset for high-intensity training and building body mass, while its emerging role in cognitive health adds to its appeal.

However, you should always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you’re combining Creatine with multiple supplements.


How long does Creatine take to work?

The time it takes for creatine to produce noticeable effects can vary depending on several factors, including the dosage regimen, individual physiology, diet, and the type of physical activity. Generally, the effects of creatine supplementation can be considered in terms of immediate and long-term outcomes. 

What is the elimination half-life of Creatine?

The elimination half-life of creatine can vary depending on individual factors such as metabolism, hydration status, and kidney function. However, on average, the half-life of creatine is estimated to be around 3 hours. This means that it takes approximately 3 hours for half of the creatine you consume to be eliminated from your body.

Should you cycle Creatine?

Yes. Some users choose to cycle off Creatine for a period (e.g., a few weeks off after every 2-3 months of use), though this isn’t necessary for everyone.

Can I stack Creatine with other nootropics?

Yes. Some synergistic options include Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Racetams (e.g., Piracetam, Aniracetam), Choline Supplements (e.g., Alpha GPC), and Adaptogens (e.g., Rhodiola Rosea, Ashwagandha).

How should I store Creatine?

Store Creatine in a cool, dry place to prevent it from breaking down. Moisture can cause the powder to clump and degrade. Room temperature is typically suitable. Extreme temperature variations should be avoided.

Sources, Studies, and Scientific Research
  1. Wax, Benjamin et al. “Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations.” Nutrients vol. 13,6 1915. 2 Jun. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu13061915
  2. Avgerinos, Konstantinos I et al. “Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.” Experimental gerontology vol. 108 (2018): 166-173. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2018.04.013
  3. Powers, Michael E. et al. “Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution.” Journal of athletic training vol. 38,1 (2003): 44-50.
  4. Prokopidis, Konstantinos et al. “Effects of creatine supplementation on memory in healthy individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Nutrition reviews vol. 81,4 (2023): 416-427. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuac064
  5. Forbes, Scott C et al. “Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Brain Function and Health.” Nutrients vol. 14,5 921. 22 Feb. 2022, doi:10.3390/nu14050921
  6. Allen, Patricia J. “Creatine metabolism and psychiatric disorders: Does creatine supplementation have therapeutic value?.” Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews vol. 36,5 (2012): 1442-62. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.03.005
  7. Roschel, Hamilton et al. “Creatine Supplementation and Brain Health.” Nutrients vol. 13,2 586. 10 Feb. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu13020586
  8. Van Bulck, Michiel et al. “Novel Approaches for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 20,3 719. 8 Feb. 2019, doi:10.3390/ijms20030719
  9. Candow, Darren G et al. “Effectiveness of Creatine Supplementation on Aging Muscle and Bone: Focus on Falls Prevention and Inflammation.” Journal of clinical medicine vol. 8,4 488. 11 Apr. 2019, doi:10.3390/jcm8040488
  10. Candow, Darren G et al. “”Heads Up” for Creatine Supplementation and its Potential Applications for Brain Health and Function.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 53,Suppl 1 (2023): 49-65. doi:10.1007/s40279-023-01870-9
  11. Kreider, Richard B et al. “Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes.” Molecular and cellular biochemistry vol. 244,1-2 (2003): 95-104.Z

Jacob Kovacs is a cognitive neuroscientist and author at WholisticResearch, specializing in nootropics and neuroactive peptides. His expertise in neuroscience and psychopharmacology bridges cognitive science with drug development. Kovacs’ work focuses on enhancing cognitive functions and brain health through innovative, efficient neuroactive compounds that overcome traditional pharmacokinetic challenges. His contributions are pivotal in advancing the understanding and treatment of neurological diseases.