Today, we’re going beyond the muscle and deep diving our way into creatine supplementation and the brain.
More specifically, how creatine supplementation could be beneficial for cognitive processing and traumatic brain injury.
It’s very well established that athletes supplement with creatine to get a whole host of performance based benefits.
However, an often overlooked area is creatine supplementation on the brain (Dolan et al, 2018).
Creatine supplementation has the potential to influence cognitive processes during periods of stress – For example; sleep deprivation, hypoxia (low oxygen in the air) or during very difficult tasks that require high amounts of mental focuses.
It’s well know that the brain is an extremely active organ that requires a constant supply of energy. Therefore, creatine supplementation could theoretically enhance brain function through facilitating the rapid recovery of energy provision (ATP).
There’s some very cool and head turning research suggesting that creatine supplementation can increase the creatine reserves in the brain, and therefore has the potential to reduce the severity/or enhance the recovery from traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
As I work primarily with rugby players who are at greater risk of TBI’s, creatine supplementation is somewhat of a no-brainer…pardon the pun.
With every issue, the prevention often lies within the cure. Therefore it’s suggested to start supplementing with creatine long term to reduce the severity of concussive based symptoms. In addition to this, brain creatine seems to be less responsive to supplementation when compared with the muscle, and therefore may require a higher or more prolonged dosing strategy.
I.e. your standard 20g for 5 days loading period may not be sufficient. That being said, the research is still in its infancy, so recommendations here are pretty sparse.
I personally recommend that athletes supplement with creatine on a long term basis. This will not only enhance physical performance, but to ensure that the creatine reservoirs within the brain are ‘topped up’ to not only deal with highly demanding mental tasks, but to potentially support brain function after you get a head knock.
IMO, creatine supplementation for TBI’s shouldn’t be an afterthought – prevention is better than the cure
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