Better Glucose Control
An estimated 1 in 3 adults struggles to maintain a healthy level of blood glucose (blood sugar). The major problem is a defect in insulin action which normally facilitates uptake of sugar into muscle and other tissues. The impaired insulin action therefore results in high blood sugar levels. A recent study examined the effects of creatine supplementation in type 2 diabetics. Subjects with insulin resistance and high blood glucose performed 12 weeks of exercise training while consuming either creatine (5 grams per day) or placebo. The creatine supplemented group showed improvements in several measures of their disease. Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), which is a measure of average blood sugar levels over several weeks, decreased by 14%, with creatine supplementation and did not change in the placebo group. When challenged with a carbohydrate meal, the creatine group showed less of a response in blood sugar. They also showed increased glucose transporters on the surface of muscle cells which means greater capacity to take up sugar from the blood. These findings indicate that creatine in conjunction with exercise training improves insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control. An increase in insulin sensitivity and disposal of glucose into muscle translates into better fuel utilization and improved recovery. For example, greater rates of muscle glucose uptake will facilitate increased rates of glycogen storage and decrease the likelihood of converting dietary carbs to fat.
Live Stronger as You Age
Muscle mass and strength peak between the ages of 20 and 35 years and steadily decline thereafter until the sixth decade of life where a sharp decline occurs. This loss in muscle mass and function adversely affects normal activities of daily living, like getting up from a chair, for many older people. Can you offset these effects of aging or are they inevitable? Recent studies provide a strong case for creatine supplementation in promoting healthy aging.
After just 7 days of creatine supplementation (20 g per day divided in 3 equal doses) or placebo, women between the ages of 58 and 71 years showed a remarkable improvement in several measures of muscular performance. Creatine supplementation led to significant increases in maximal bench press and leg press strength, upper and lower body power, and two functional performance tasks encountered during everyday life - a sit and stand test and a tandem gait test. These improvements in functional performance occurred despite no physical training during the 7 day period and no side effects were reported, highlighting the simple yet effective use of creatine to enhance physical performance in older individuals.
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These two recent studies in older adults, one short-term (7 days) and one long-term (6 months), clearly show the power of creatine to enhance muscle gain and fat loss, and improve several measures of functional performance including activities of daily living. These studies in humans are also supported by animal work. Using an animal model of aging, it was shown that creatine supplementation extended maximum "healthy" life span (defined as the age before animals were classified as suffering from disease) which significantly increased by 9%. These studies point to creatine as an effective supplement to extend peak performance into your middle years.
Support Brain Power
A new line of research has investigated possible benefits of creatine in other tissues besides muscle. One area that has sparked interest is the brain. Creatine is an important source of energy for cells in the brain that have high metabolic needs required for processes like working and long-term memory. Prior work using sophisticated analytical equipment like magnetic resonance spectroscopy has shown that creatine supplementation results in significant increases in creatine levels in the human brain. Following up on this work, British researchers supplemented older adults with placebo or creatine for one week. Subjects completed a battery of cognitive tests that assessed verbal and spatial short- and long-term memory. Creatine supplementation enhanced several of the tests including forward number recall, forward and backward spatial recall, and long-term memory. These findings add to a line of research indicating that creatine supplementation improves cognitive functioning.
There is overwhelming evidence that creatine supplementation enhances exercise performance and helps build bigger muscles in athletes and younger men and women. Recent work has extended these benefits to include increased insulin sensitivity, better glucose control, maintaining strength longer, and improved memory.
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