Creatine and Vegetarians
The advantages of plant-based eating are many and include everything from
improved mortality rates to potentially short term and long term testosterone.
(See my link on
Plant-Based Nutrition and
Vegetarians and Testosterone for some
basic information.) I also eat a plant-based diet, because it the foundation of
what I call Orgasmatarianism, eating to maximize nitric oxide and erectile strength and
minimizing the chance for future erectile dysfunction.
NOTE: I actually do eat a little meat, which is why I actually prefer
the label plant-based. My own dietary regimen includes the consumption of abundant egg whites
along with some
undenatured whey - what I call the
Whey of Life - and nonfat milk.
Eating plant-based has really helped me and I would never go back, but I do have
to admit something: there are some nutrients that are predominantly in
meats and animal products that have incredible advantages. Examples of
this are Vitamin B12, Choline and the subject of this page: creatine.
Need to boost your Nitric Oxide naturally through food, drink and supplements? Check out Lee Myer's book here:
The Peak Erectile Strength Diet
Or do you need the most comprehensive testosterone book in Amazon? Here it is:
Natural Versus Testosterone Therapy
Many men, especially those involved in sports or bodybuilding, have heard of
some of the common advantages of creatine. I would like to quickly cover some of
these that, although well-covered in the popular health press, many men may
not have heard of them:
CAUTION: Creatine has a lot of nice properties, but may put some men at risk.
For example, did you know that one study says creatine raises DHT levels and may put some men
at risk who have kidney issues? For more information, see my link on Potential Creatine Dangers.
1. Satellite Cells. One of the most important things you can do for
your long term health is maintain your muscle mass over the decades. And,
actually, most men will slowly lose muscle mass over the years from poor diet,
loss of testosterone and a sedentary lifestyle. To build (and repair) muscle,
you need a certain kind of specialized cell called "satellite cells".
Testosterone, the amino acid leucine - present in
Branched Chain Amino Acids and
whey - and IGF-1 are all well-known to the bodybuilding and athletic
communities. And all three of these have part of their reputation based on
the fact that they increase muscle satellite cell counts.
However, it's not just these big boys that will increase satellite cells:
creatine has been shown in a few animal and human studies to do the same thing.
 Again, this is absolutely critical for "hypertrophy" or
2. IGF-1. Everyone has heard of testosterone, but IGF-1 is another
hormone absolutely critical for muscle growth and development. IGF-1 and
Growth Hormone often go hand-in-hand and have many important properties for
maintaining a youthful physique. This is where creatine comes in again: it
increases the activity of muscle IGF-1 according to both in vitro and in vivo
3. Muscle Oxidation. Weight lifting and strength training can put a
significant oxidative (free radical) load on the body. And is it any
wonder consider that cells are damaged and must be rebuilt? It turns out
that creatine actually is highly protective of muscle tissue by increasing
oxidative protection. Researchers have discovered that it does this not only by
acting as an antioxidant but by stimulating other metabolic antioxidant
Furthermore, the benefits of creatine supplementation probably increase as you
age. The reason is probably most that muscle mass is so cardioprotective
as the years go by. As mentioned, most men (and women) slowly lose muscle
- about 10 pounds per decade! - and replace it with fat. Let's say that
you are one of the few that still weight the same as you do in college.
You may be feeling good about yourself not realizing that you have probably lost
at least 10 pounds of muscle and replaced it with 10 pounds of fat (unless you
are a pretty avid exerciser).
Studies on seniors and the elderly have found one benefit after another from
creatine supplementation: muscle building, increased strength, increased
fat free mass and so on.  However, one very interesting benefit is improved
cognition. One study on seniors found this from dosages of "about 20 g/day for 5
days or about 2 g/day for 30 days." 
These benefits to both young and old are actually remarkable when you consider
that there is considerable creatine in meat and most people in modern societies
eat a lot of meat. However, to even get a 5 gram dose of creatine would
require one to eat 2.5 pounds of raw beef as cooking the beef removes most of
the creatine. Fish has more creatine per unit weight, but, again, cooking
removes most of it.
Regardless, carnivores have higher muscle creatine levels on average than
vegetarians, because, even after cooking, their dietary consumption of creatine
is much higher. For this reason, one study that compared vegetarians to
carnivores found on average that meat-eaters had about 60% higher plasma
creatine levels for example. 
NOTE: One nice benefit of creatine supplement is that it likely lowers
homocysteine levels in some populations, at least according to some animal
And this leads to an important question that researchers decided to study:
would vegetarians actually get the most benefit from creatine supplementation,
since they tend to get the least amount in their diet? The studies have
been somewhat limited, but, so far, the results seem to show that vegetarians
would definitely benefit in certain key areas from additional supplemental
creatine. Here are a few examples from the research:
1. Cognition. Two studies now have shown that creatine supplementation
significantly helps the brain. It all started with a study of male and female
vegetarians that showed improvements in both working memory and intelligence
from creatine supplementation.  A follow-up study on female vegetarians found
that they signficantly improved memory (and choice reaction time in certain
ways).  Again, most men think of creatine as helping muscles only, but it
profoundly improves mitochodrial function and that, in turn, help the brain and
all its heavy processing activities.
2. Exercise Performance. There is evidence that lower creatine
levels affect max level exercise performance and that vegetarians would benefit
from supplementation. 
3. Muscle Benefits. Vegetarians should get all the muscle benefits
of omnivores, because with creatine supplementation, their muscle creatine
levels quickly equal that of meat-eaters. This is because muscle can only
store so much creatine anyway, so supplementation quickly "levels the playing
field". So, if you're plant-based or vegetarian, get ready to "rock" with
4. Lowering Post-Exercise Inflammation. Creatine does a nice job of lowering
both TNF alpha and CRP (C-Reactive Protein) according to one recent study. See #21 on my
page on How to Lower Inflammation for more details.
CAUTION: Creatine was fairly recently studied by Brazilian
scientists, who monitored kidney function in young men who consumed higher
dosages (10 grams/day) of creatine for about 90 days. Their conclusion?
Creatine caused absolutely no issues in kideny function. However, a little
more caution is definitely in order, perhaps, for middle-aged and beyond men
with kidney issues. It is probably wise to drink some extra water when
consuming creatine and, of course, talk to your doctor as there have been
reports of men with kidney issues having trouble with creatine.
The Journal of Physiology, Jun 2006, 573(2):525-534, "Creatine supplementation
augments the increase in satellite cell and myonuclei number in human skeletal
muscle induced by strength training"
2) EBS Lett, 2004 Jan 16, 557(1-3):243-7, "Creatine increases IGF-I and myogenic
regulatory factor mRNA in C(2)C(12) cells"
3) Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 May, 37(5):731-6, "Increased IGF mRNA in human
skeletal muscle after creatine supplementation"
4) Mol Nutr Food Res, 2009 Sep, 53(9):1187-204, "Creatine supplementation
prevents the inhibition of myogenic differentiation in oxidatively injured C2C12
http://www.brjb.com.br/files/brjb_128_4201012_id2.pdf, "Benefits of creatine
supplementation in older adults"
6) Amino Acids, 2011 May, 40(5):1349-62, "Use of creatine in the elderly and
evidence for effects on cognitive function in young and old"
7) Clinical Chemistry, 1989, 35(8), p.1802
8) Kidney International, 2003, 64:1331–1337; "Creatine supplementation decreases
homocysteine in an animal model of uremia"
9) Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B, Oct 2003, 270(1529):2147-2150, "Oral creatine
monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double–blind,
placebo–controlled, cross–over trial"
10) Behaviour, Appetite and Obesity, Received February 03 2010, "The influence of
creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and
11) Nutrition, 2004 Jul-Aug, 20(7-8):696-703, "Nutritional considerations for
12) Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2002 Sep, 12(3):336-48, "Effect of creatine
supplementation and a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet on muscle creatine