Brain Gains

Congratulations everyone, we’ve almost made it to the second month of 2019! I don’t know about you, but THIS is the year that I will actually follow through with my New Year resolutions. Every year I vow to set and keep my New Year resolutions and sadly give up by month two or three. My resolution is always the same: GET FIT OR DIE TRYING. Clearly, I’m setting myself up for failure, but this year is going to be different. 

I’ve always led an active lifestyle. I grew up dancing and became a a competitive dancer in high school and continued on through college.  In college, I started getting into weight training to compliment my dance training. After college, I taught dance while searching for my adult, 9 to 5 gig.  Once I landed my first 9 to 5, my fitness began to take the back burner. Now, as a 30-year-old lady that used to be fit, my frustration with how fluffy I became and lack of time for the gym was just plain silly. With 2019 fast approaching I decided to make some changes. I took a leap of faith and took a job at Xendurance. After a few weeks of being on staff, and realizing one flight of stairs left me gasping for breath, I decided to kick my butt into high gear.

My fitness MO is going to my local gym, warming up on the treadmill or stair stepper for a few minutes before hitting the weights and machines. Nothing crazy. Since I am fairly new to the Xendurance family I thought this would be the perfect time to delve into the product line.  Now I’ve got to be honest, I have never taken creatine before; it’s never even crossed my mind. I, like many others, have always thought that creatine wasn’t very safe or healthy. In fact, my significant other was okay with me trying all of the Xendurance products EXCEPT for creatine.  Respecting his wishes I decided to start out slow with Extreme Endurance, Immune Boost, and the Hydro Stix (all awesome by the way). 

After a week into taking the above products I started to really enjoy my gym routine; I wasn’t so sore that I couldn’t walk the next day! At the beginning of week two, I decided that I would do some research on creatine to see what it actually does to the body in hopes of changing my view, as well as my significant other’s. Here’s what I found:

The body naturally produces creatine; it’s actually a cocktail of the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. Our liver, kidneys, and pancreas are responsible for its creation and it can also be  found in meats and fish.  About 95% of the creatine our body produces is stored in our muscles and the rest goes to our heart and brain. The muscles, heart, and brain use this store of creatine to create Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is the energy source that fuels our muscles during exercise. Pretty cool, actually. The not so cool thing is that beef has 5 grams of creatine per 2.5 pounds of meat and loses about 5% of the total amount when cooked. The average person should have about 3-5 grams of creatine in their body daily from consumption and natural production…that’s literally like eating ten 1/4lb burgers a day. WHAT?! I love a good burger but COME ON!!  Supplementing with creatine powder definitely makes sense.

Naturally, I picked up a package of the Xendurance Creatine Unflavored to see what the ingredients were. Just as I thought: pure beef. I’m kidding. It’s actually made up of calcium, magnesium, creapure, and lactate. The only ingredient I wasn’t familiar with was the Creapure. Back to the computer for more research. Creapure is exclusively manufactured in Trotsberg, Germany in a special facility that makes one thing; you guessed it: creapure. Creapure is the brand name for pure creatine monohydrate that's made from the best products using chemical synthesis. They wont tell you exactly what the products are,otherwise they’d be giving away their secret recipe, but they do say that the raw materials are  absolutely not from animals. Bonus for vegans and vegetarians!

Now that I knew what I was working with, I needed to know what would happen to me once I took the product. I literally googled: “negative side effects of creatine”. The first blurb that popped up said “ Depending who you ask, the negative side effects may include…”  Obviously I wanted someone that knew what they are talking about, so I entered the same search phrase into google scholar. Honestly, I had a hard time finding anything negative.  In fact, according to the The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, Volume 28 :

       “Concurrent consumption of CM (creatine monohydrate) with a mixed protein/carbohydrate source (∼50 g of protein and carbohydrate) appears to enhance muscle creatine uptake via an insulin-mediated effect (Steenge et al., 2000), suggesting that creatine doses are best taken with a meal (or separate food supplement). No negative health effects have been reported with the long-term use of CM (up to 4 years) when appropriate loading protocols are followed (Schilling et al., 2001). In fact, some reports propose CM supplementation to be anti-inflammatory, and to reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress (Deminice et al., 2013). In summary, when accepted CM supplementation protocols are followed, the expected increase in intramuscular creatine stores are likely to enhance lean mass, maximal power/strength, and the performance of single and repeated bouts of short-term, high-intensity exercise.” 

After going further down the rabbit hole, I found that creatine isn’t only good for amping up muscle function, it’s also good for amping up brain function. In one study comparing the cognitive function of adult females both vegetarian and vegan, the improvement of memory in the group taking creatine was significantly better than the placebo group after just five days. Another, longer study, found that after 6 weeks of taking creatine young adult vegetarians showed improvement in both intelligence and memory. Essentially the brain needs energy to perform cognitive tasks and creatine makes that energy.  Makes sense to me! Not only does your body make muscle gains, it makes brain gains.

After taking a break from my research, I concluded that creatine isn’t all that bad, its actually pretty good for you.Like everything in life there are exceptions. Keep in mind that not all creatine is the same, if it doesn’t have the Creapure® registered trademark it could be made with anything. Make sure you follow the directions and recommended dosage, the instructions exist for a reason.All in all, my negative view has changed to a positive and I am ready to incorporate it into my New Year Get FIT OR DIE TRYING routine! Stay tuned for a follow up blog to find out if I swayed my significant other’s view on creatine and what happened when I took it.