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The benefits of creatine for vegans

Posted by Bulk Nutrients in Plant Based

Estimated reading time: 5mins

What are the benefits of creatine for vegans? Bulk Nutrients explains why it is so important.

The Benefits of Creatine for Vegans

Creatine is, without doubt, the most researched and effective supplement you can get your hands on. It gives you more energy and may help you grow more muscle -- everyone in the gym has told you that. But for vegans, supplementation of creatine is critical because you can only get it from animal products, or a plant-based supplement. This article will outline what creatine is, and detail why it's so important for vegans.

Creatine for muscle growth and brain functioning

Increasing muscle strength is an important goal when training and using supplements, and creatine, an organic compound, does a fine job at this. Creatine allows muscles to produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a high-powered energy-carrying molecule that gives you energy during exercise. So by taking creatine, you're getting the energy to lift more which may help with muscle gains. Given that one of the key principles of muscle growth is progressive overload (adding more weight to the bar) you're putting yourself into a position for success.

And when research examines the role of creatine on muscle growth directly, it comes up favourably; those who take creatine can double the amount of muscle growth compared to those who don't.

Creatine won't just benefit a vegan's physical performance but also enhance brain function and memory.

Creatine: may increase muscle growth and power.
Creatine: may increase muscle growth and power.

Vegans and creatine: How to get enough

Research shows vegans have lower amounts of creatine in their muscles, as creatine is only found naturally in animal products.

One study placed subjects on diets that restricted animal products like beef, chicken, eggs and dairy, and found significant reductions in their muscle creatine levels. So this is where supplementing with creatine for a vegan becomes absolutely critical if they want to take advantage of the supplements increased power and muscle growth benefits. Moreover, creatine will also help vegans with recovery.

But there's another area of research that is interesting to scientists -- do vegans respond better to creatine?

Do vegans and vegetarians respond better to creatine for performance?

One of the limitations currently in the literature on creatine and vegans is that many of the subjects studied haven't been athletic.

But in two studies, recreational athletes were examined. They either swam, jogged or walked regularly and boasted 1-5 years of resistance training experience.

One of these studies randomised 18 female and male vegetarians and 24 male and female omnivores to creatine. The subjects took 0.25 grams of creatine per kilogram of lean tissue mass per day for 1 week. After this "loading" phase, they added 0.0625 grams of creatine per kilogram of lean tissue mass per day for 56 days. There were also placebo groups. The subjects performed a high-volume resistance training program, training all major muscle groups over three days.

Further to muscle growth and power, creatine supplementation may also brain function and memory.
Further to muscle growth and power, creatine supplementation may also brain function and memory.

Quite remarkably, they found vegetarians on creatine had a greater increase in total creatine in their leg muscles than other groups! This translated to a larger increase in lean muscle and a superior ability when performing a muscular endurance task of 50 repetitions of leg extensions!

Further research will determine if vegans and vegetarians respond better to creatine than omnivores.

How much creatine do vegans need?

Let’s say Bulk Nutrients customer “Marcus” wants to reap the muscle-building benefits of creatine as quickly as possible. In this case, “Marcus” would need to:

  • Load up on creatine for 7 days, taking 25 grams per day
  • After 7 days, take just 5 grams of creatine per day
  • This will boost “Marcus's” energy and regeneration of ATP during training

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to load creatine; 5 grams per day will be fine. However, loading just helps you to saturate muscles faster.

Our Bulk Nutrients Creatine Monohydrate contains 3 grams per serve, to ensure you get enough creatine regardless of what stage you're at.

What we know currently is that creatine can increase muscle growth, performance, brain function and memory. And vegans struggle to get enough creatine because it's only found naturally in animal products. But this is no reason to be concerned, as adequate creatine supplementation solves this problem quickly. Following a vegan diet doesn't hinder any potential progress when a clear and practical creatine supplementation plan is carried out in line with the latest scientific recommendations!

References:

  1. Casey A, Greenhaff PL. Does dietary creatine supplementation play a role in skeletal muscle metabolism and performance? Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;72(2 Suppl):607S-17S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/72.2.607S. PMID: 10919967.
  2. La Scala Teixeira CV, Evangelista AL, Pereira PEA, Da Silva-Grigoletto ME, Bocalini DS, Behm DG. Complexity: A Novel Load Progression Strategy in Strength Training. Front Physiol. 2019;10:839. Published 2019 Jul 3. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00839
  3. Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 18 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
  4. Burke DG, Chilibeck PD, Parise G, Candow DG, Mahoney D, Tarnopolsky M. Effect of creatine and weight training on muscle creatine and performance in vegetarians. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Nov;35(11):1946-55. doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000093614.17517.79. PMID: 14600563.
  5. Burke D.G., Candow D.G., Chilibeck P.D., MacNeil L.G., Roy B.D., Tarnopolsky M.A., Ziegenfuss T. Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 2008;18:389–398. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.18.4.389.
  6. Brosnan ME, Brosnan JT. The role of dietary creatine. Amino Acids. 2016 Aug;48(8):1785-91. doi: 10.1007/s00726-016-2188-1. Epub 2016 Feb 13. PMID: 26874700.
  7. Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jimenez A. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012;9(1):33. Published 2012 Jul 20. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33
  8. Benton D, Donohoe R. The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores. Br J Nutr. 2011 Apr;105(7):1100-5. doi: 10.1017/S0007114510004733. Epub 2010 Dec 1. PMID: 21118604.
  9. Rae C, Digney AL, McEwan SR, Bates TC. Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Oct 22;270(1529):2147-50. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2003.2492. PMID: 14561278; PMCID: PMC1691485.
  10. Wallimann T., Tokarska-Schlattner M., Schlattner U. The creatine kinase system and pleiotropic effects of creatine. Amino Acids. 2011;40:1271–1296. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-0877-3.

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