The right state of mind can provide infinite advantages…and so can creatine nootropics.
Altering brain chemicals is nothing new.
Ancient cultures used psychoactive ingredients like psilocybin, mescaline, and many others for ceremonial and educational purposes. For instance:
- The Mayan culture used cacao to reduce mental fatigue and improve clarity, and;
- Ancient ayurvedic Indian practices included a wide array of herbs, such as bacopa monnieri and shilajit, which are still used for their memory-enhancing properties.
Today, we have a much better understanding of what these chemical substances do to our brain and theoretically how to manipulate this. Yet, with many of these substances, there are questions about efficacy and concerns about safety. With these issues in mind, tried-and-tested nootropics (supplements that improve mental function) may be the best place to start.
Creatine has long been used to improve athletic performance, but it is also an effective cognitive enhancer. In fact, Smart Drug Smarts podcast host, Jesse Lawler, told one crowd that the best place to begin with nootropics is creatine.
Here are 8 reasons creatine is an effective smart drug with only 1 drawback.
8 Reasons Creatine is the Best Nootropic
1. Improves energy levels in the brain
Creatine is a molecule that allows cells to store energy in your brain cells for use at another time. This extra energy means you can do more work or study more effectively. Unlike caffeine, you don’t just feel like you have more energy – you actually generate more energy. Luckily, there are no jitters or crashes with creatine compared to other energizing stimulants.
NOTE: Some people take sugar / carbohydrates with creatine, but this may cause an energy crash because of the glucose. There is a way to effectively take creatine without sugar, which we’ll talk about in a minute.
2. Negates symptoms of sleep deprivation
Sometimes life happens and sleep quantity and quality suffers. Creatine can improve mental endurance and negate the symptoms of sleep deprivation. You can work longer on fewer hours of sleep.
3. Improved reasoning skills
Many nootropics improve memory or focus and attention, but creatine is one of the few that enhances reasoning as well. Memorizing information is useful, but reasoning logically through a difficult professional or educational problem is even more profound. This is related to the “understanding versus being able to teach” scenario – you can think you know something, but being able to walk someone else through it indicates true mastery. Plus, reasoning is applicable to all subject matters – including creative and artistic pursuits.
4. Creatine is incredibly well-studied
Unlike most other nootropics, creatine has over a century of research. The creatine molecule was discovered in 1832 by a French chemist and has been heavily researched and cited. Examine.com, an authoritative scientific / research-based website about supplements, has 711 citations for creatine. With so many questionable supplements out there, this one’s got the science to back it up!
5. Creatine is proven safe with few side effects
Humans need creatine. We create it ourselves, and it is available in most animal products. One of the few side effects is gastrointestinal discomfort, but drinking enough water often solves this problem. Kidney health fears are overblown. One study gave 4 times the recommended dose of creatine to patients with only one kidney and saw “no adverse effects”.
NOTE: More common are negative side effects from poor-quality creatine blends. Getting creatine with natural ingredients is the best way to avoid long-term health problems.
6. Creatine works better when you can’t consume enough meat
Vegans and vegetarians definitely see more benefits of using creatine, but just because you eat a Paleo style diet doesn’t mean you are consuming enough. Getting the optimal amount of creatine requires that you eat 2.5 pounds of red meat per day. That’s just inconvenient.
7. Unlike caffeine, creatine is not a dangerous stimulant
Caffeine can be healthy and useful, but some people prefer to improve focus and energy levels without stimulants that create jitters and anxiety. Creatine provides additional energy for your brain, so there is no “motivation crash”. After the first week of creatine, you’ll feel a steady, even energy to get your work done.
8. Improves mental endurance
You’re working hard, about to finish up a project, and hit a brick wall. It happens to the best of us — and it is frustrating to run out of energy. The additional energy from creatine can allow you to work more hours in the day with high quality work. Avoid half-assing your project and actually get stuff done!
The 1 Drawback of Creatine Supplementation
There is only 1 drawback of creatine for most health-conscious and Paleo dieters: you usually need sugar or carbohydrates to use creatine most efficiently.
A lot of people following a Paleo lifestyle would love to use creatine but know it cannot be used efficiently without sugar or extra carbohydrates.
As we mentioned earlier, the blood sugar spike from extra glucose in your system can even diminish some of the energetic effects creatine is supposed to provide us with.
So is there a way to get all the benefits of creatine without the negatives of sugar?
There sure is: Fenugreek is a natural herb used in India for cooking, and has the same effect as sugar for creatine absorption. With fenugreek, you can avoid the processed sugar spike and extra carbs while making sure your body can process the creatine.
So make sure to purchase a creatine supplement that includes fenugreek as an ingredient, or add some yourself when supplementing with it!
For more on the different ways to support the mitochondria with supplements & lifestyle, check out this comprehensive article.
- NCBI – National Center for Biotechnology Information
- Examine – THE unbiased source on nutrition and supplements