Think that creatine is all about muscle size and strength? Think again!

You should know by now that one of the most effective supplements you can add to your supplement arsenal is creatine.

For most guys and girls, creatine is guaranteed to deliver impressive gains in muscle growth, muscle strength, and even muscle endurance. And that is all backed by numerous research studies, not to mention tons of anecdotal reports by real men and women using creatine. But if that wasn't enough, research also has shown that creatine supports cognitive function and memory and can also aid cardiovascular health and even help protect the skin from sun and oxidative damage! It truly is a wonder supplement.

Newer research now shows that creatine has even more unexpected benefits, such as preventing muscle loss during layoffs, supporting healthy blood sugar levels.

In one study, St. Francis Xavier University researchers immobilized one arm of subjects in a full-length cast for one week while they were given 5 grams of creatine four times per day. In the second part of the study, they immobilized the subjects' other arm while they took a placebo (5 grams of maltodextrin) four times per day. They reported that when the subjects received creatine they actually increased their arm muscle mass by 1%. Yet when they took the placebo, they lost 4% in arm muscle size. In addition, when they took creatine, they only lost 4% strength in the biceps and triceps, yet when they took the placebo they lost about 20% strength in the biceps and triceps.

In a second study, University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) researchers had subjects take either 10 grams of creatine per day or 10 grams of a placebo (dextrose) for three months while following an aerobic training program. The Brazilian researchers found that the subjects taking creatine had lower blood glucose (blood sugar) levels due to the creatine pulling more glucose out of the bloodstream and into muscle cells. This can help you gain more muscle size because glucose also pulls more water into the muscles. It can also help you train harder, as you'll have higher levels of stored glucose (glycogen) in your muscles. And it may help you burn more fat because you'll have less blood glucose, which means less glucose may be stored as fat.*

And in yet another study, German researchers gave mice supplemental creatine in their diet or a plain diet without any supplemental creatine. They found that the mice receiving the creatine in their diet increased their lifespan by 10% more than the mice not receiving creatine!

Jim's Take-Home Message

If you're not already taking creatine, I urge you to do so to gain more muscle size, strength and endurance, lose body fat, support your brain function, and help protect your skin. Take 2-5 grams of creatine, depending on the form you use, with your pre and postworkout shakes within 30 minutes before and after training. You know that my favorite form is creatine hydrochloride (HCl), specifically the Con-Cret® patented form. On rest days take one serving of creatine with your morning meal. And yes, even during layoffs from the gym, continue taking one serving of creatine with your morning meal to help you better maintain your muscle size and strength.

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Bender, A., et al. Creatine improves health and survival of mice. Neurobiology of Aging. 29(9): 1404-1411, 2009.

Gualano, B., et al. Effects of creatine supplementation on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in sedentary healthy males undergoing aerobic training. Amino Acids. 2008 Feb;34(2):245-50.

Johnston AP Effect of creatine supplementation during cast-induced immobilization on the preservation of muscle mass, strength, and endurance. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):116-20.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

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