With the huge variety of useful and beneficial supplements on the market today, it can be a daunting task to choose one to start with along with a new gym membership. Many have very specific uses, whether it be for providing you with extra amino acids, boosting your focus, or increasing your pump in the gym. These benefits are all well and good and should eventually be a part of every amateur or professional lifters arsenal, but sticking with the basics will be the key to success at first. The most researched supplement, creatine, is one of the simplest yet most effective muscle and strength builders we can invest in.1 If you’re new to this, then one of your first questions when starting with this supplement will be “does creatine give you energy?” — because starting in the gym, you’re going to need it.
Does Creatine Give You Energy?
When talking about the structure of creatine, you’ll find that it’s a natural molecule (similar to an amino acid) found in many foods we consume on a daily basis, as well as made by our body in small amounts. It stores something call phosphocreatine in our cells which results in the increased production of adenosine triphosphate, better known as ATP. To put it simply, creatine increases the amount of usable energy we have during exercise, allowing us to complete that extra rep or sprint a few seconds faster on the field.2
It is important to note that ATP energy is used up quickly by the body during exercise, meaning creatine is most effective during quick and intense movements. One extra rep per set or a second faster sprint time doesn’t seem like much of a benefit at face value, but the increase in energy and work will compound over time and lead to noticeable strength and size gains.3
At first it might seem like it’s not doing anything at all – since muscle saturation to feel the full effects takes time. However, after a few weeks of daily use, your muscles will become full with extra ATP energy capacity and the gains will start to show.
Different Types of Energy
Does creatine give you energy like caffeine does? It’s important not to confuse the energy that creatine produces with stimulatory energy that supplements like caffeine produce, as they are very different. Caffeine and other stimulants work by making you feel less tired and affect your central nervous system, meaning they cannot be taken at night if you want to get any sleep4. Conversely, creatine is not a stimulant, and the extra ATP energy it produces won’t affect your sleep, meaning it can be taken before bed. In fact, creatine can be taken any time of the day and be just as effective for increasing your stored energy to be used later during a workout.
This means that although you can aim to take creatine close to your workouts, there are no specific rules on when to take it to make the most of its energy benefits. It’ll be stored in your muscles until you’re ready to use it and will only affect the energy available to your muscles. It won’t keep you up and buzzed all night.
The main side effect of increased phosphocreatine and ATP energy in muscles, will be a larger than usual amount of water being retained in our cells, meaning it is important to slowly increase water consumption when starting creatine. This should be done gradually because if you skip the loading phase (taking 20 grams per day for a week then five grams per day onward), your muscles will saturate with phosphocreatine to produce more energy slowly, not all at once.5
Does creatine give you energy as well as other benefits? Beyond athletic performance, the extra ATP energy that creatine produces can actually affect the brain positively by enhancing mood and memory.6 This would classify the supplement as a nootropic as well as a muscle builder. Although it hasn’t been studied as extensively as the athletic side of supplemental creatine, there ‘s some science to show how the extra ATP energy in our body could potentially improve our memory as well as improve our mood.7 More studies need to be done on the mental benefits of creatine, but the research does look promising.
Take Home Message
So, does creatine give you energy? Creatine as an energy enhancing supplement has been around longer than most of us reading this article, and will probably still be helping people build strength and size long after we’re too old to lift. By increasing the amount of usable ATP in our muscles, creatine will help push out that extra rep or two on the bench press and run that 100 meters a few seconds faster. So, whatever your athletic ability, anyone who’s taking their fitness game to the next level should consider creatine for the ultimate energy boost.