I recently started reading your blog and thoroughly enjoy your wisdom and insight on so many topics. One thing that caught my eye was your supplementation of Creatine. I have used Creatine as a supplement, however, I am not a consistent user of it. If my training is up and more intense and like to use it. Like any supplement, I don`t like to do it all of the time. Anyway, what brand do you prefer? Also, when do you take it? Do you take it before training, after, in the morning? Just curious when you feel the best time to take Creatine is. Any other information you can give me concerning this topic would be greatly appreciated.
Be regards,

Hi Matt,
Thanks for writing to me! I take 3 1000 mg tablets of creatine every morning (3 grams/day), just because morning is when I take the supplements I use. Otherwise I can never remember or make time, so that part is not entirely scientific.

I know creatine has been used in large doses for building muscle mass by weightlifters. I take it in a consistent small, daily dose because vegetarians have lower levels of creatine than people who eat meat, and all of the research I’ve done has pointed to great benefits for supplementing with it in reasonable amounts.
It appears to me that you’re actually better off being vegan and supplementing with creatine than getting larger amounts through meat consumption.

Studies have shown that vegans who supplement with creatine gain increased memory and mental sharpness, even when starting at the same baseline as meat eaters:
“A 2010 study of 121 young women (71 of whom were vegetarian or vegan) had the subjects supplement with either 20 g of creatine per day (four doses of 5 g throughout the day) or placebo for five days (4). At baseline, the vegetarians had similar memory to the meat-eaters, but after supplementation, the vegetarians who supplemented with creatine had better memory than the meat-eaters in either group. This study found that vegetarians were more sensitive to supplementation with creatine than meat-eaters.”

Since I started taking creatine, I can remember all the beta on my projects! 😉

From a training (i.e. climbing!) perspective, it also appears that creatine can help improve strength building “Extensive research has shown that oral creatine supplementation at a rate of five to 20 grams per day appears to be very safe and largely devoid of adverse side-effects, while at the same time effectively improving the physiological response to resistance exercise, increasing the maximal force production of muscles in both men and women.”

So you can remember all the beta on your projects AND do the moves: win!

The wikipedia entry on creatine is very informative, and you can check out all the direct links to the research studies cited.
For similar reasons, I also take eleuthero (also known as siberian ginseng). People have been using eleuthero in the mountains for centuries, but it’s been hard to get “scientific” confirmation of its efficacy until recently. A study was done in Taiwan, with endurance athletes taking eleuthero recording increased endurance of 23%. They found there was an initial loading phase of 8 weeks before seeing results. There appear to be many other positive effects from siberian ginseng as well, but the endurance study is what got me taking it. I take 3/day (at 1200 mg each) just like the creatine.

I’ve been taking creatine for over a year and eleuthero for 6 months. I have noticed improvements in both climbing power and hiking/running/skate skiing endurance since adding creatine and eleuthero to the few supplements I like to use. I don’t like to take a ton of supplements, but when I notice results from something I have the motivation to be consistent with it.

Hope that helps with your research! Steph

  • Hi Steph

    also this is very interesting…

  • Evan Gordon

    Hi Steph,

    I just wanted to point out that the paper you discuss in this article, does not support that memory is improved by creatine supplementation. If you read the full paper, you will see that the memory test (word recall) is actually worse after creatine supplementation in both groups, but it is significantly worse in the meat eating group, compared to vegetarians.

    The source you quote describes: “the vegetarians who supplemented with creatine had better memory than the meat-eaters in either group”. This is true, but only because the memory of meat eaters who supplemented with creatine was WORSE than baseline. There certainly was not an improvement in memory in vegetarians supplementing with creatine.

    If this study finds anything, it suggests that creatine hinders memory on the word recall task for meat eaters, but the effect is ameliorated by a vegetarian diet.

    There certainly are benefits to creatine supplementation, but the findings in this study have been misrepresented. If you would like to read the paper, I have linked the free full text below. See figure 1 for memory performance results.

    Cheers 🙂

  • Thank you Evan! Great information, and thanks for the share!

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  • Stephane

    Really late commentary but I wanted to reply to this post.
    First, thank you steph for the post, vegan as well for 6 months and I’m trying the experience too of creatine. I’m taking maybe 3 grams every other day and so far so good, I feel I have more energy in general so I probably continue like this!
    I also noticed that I prefer to take it in the morning as I feel I have more difficulty to go to sleep after.
    Evan, I read the paper and I disagree with your conclusions : True, the second memory test which consist in memorising words got way worse in the creatine group as well as in the placebo group, which probably mean as they say : “unexpectedly the second word list was
    more difficult than the first, although the way in which
    the two lists were matched argues against this as an explanation.
    Alternatively, there may have been a lack of motivation
    towards the end of the study”
    Knowing that, the result seems to say that vegetarian with creatine had better results
    As a PhD students in a very different subject, I would say that more works have to be done to be sure it is a solid results (maybe it has been done since)



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