Bodybuilding is riddled with a whole lot of supplements. There’s whey protein, BCAAs, fat-burners, and of course – Creatine. It’s mostly used as a pre-workout pill to grant the user more strength and energy but did you know that there’s also a link between Creatine and testosterone? I shit you not, bro. It’s true. In fact, today’s review is all about the scientific research that prove the connection I’m telling you about. Are you ready to be amazed? You better be.
WHY TEST BOOSTER SUPPLEMENTS USE CREATINE
Let’s disregard that for a minute and ask something much more obvious. Why do muscle seeking men use Creatine in the first place? The answer is that because it helps build muscle and enhances recovery. But how does it do so? Thanks for asking. Now, allow me to explain.
What is creatine?
Creatine is naturally found and stored by our bodies. It can be found in the blood and the brain but it is mostly concentrated in skeletal muscle. Something interesting you might want to know is that our bodies can store more creatine than we naturally produce. Thus, the benefits of external sources of creatine such as meat and supplements.
Something important you need to know when talking about Creatine is ATP. This compound is technically our body’s source of energy and it’s also made up for 3 phosphate molecules. Thus, the name Adenosine Triphosphate.
In heavy resistance training, your muscles use up a phosphate molecule from ATP as they contract. Subtracting one phosphate molecule from ATP, it now becomes ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate). When ATP becomes ADP, it technically becomes useless.
Here’s when Creatine comes in. Creatine also carries around with it a phosphate molecule. When your body needs more ATP, Creatine sacrifices its own phosphate molecule to have it bind with ADP. From here, ADP now goes back to being ATP and can again supply more energy to your muscles, allowing you to lift more reps with more force.
In testosterone boosting, the link on how Creatine does its magic is not as clearly defined as its connection to ATP and energy. However, what the researches do show is that creatine certainly does have testosterone boosting potential if paired with anaerobic exercise or sports such as rugby and bodybuilding.
STUDIES ON CREATINE SUGGEST:
Improve athletic performance and increase testosterone
The focus of this first research I’m about to show you isn’t exactly testosterone. However, the researchers did measure testosterone as one of their markers. This research aimed to investigate the effects of sleep deprivation on the execution of an athletic skill (rugby passing to be specific), with or without acute supplementation of either caffeine or creatine.
The players either had adequate (7-9 hours) or deficient (3-5 hours) sleep while they were undergoing the experiment. Furthermore, they had to take either a placebo, caffeine (1 or 5 mg/kg), or creatine (50 or 100 mg/kg) an hour and a half before they did their prescribed exercise. Salivary cortisol and testosterone was then measured. Below are the results of the study:
- Sleep deprivation = significant fall in performance and no change in testosterone
- Sleep deprivation + caffeine (both doses) = no significant difference in performance
- Sleep deprivation + creatine (both doses) = no significant difference in performance
- Creatine at 100 mg/kg = higher testosterone compared to placebo
- Caffeine at 5 mg/kg = higher cortisol compared to placebo
As you can see from these results, sleep deprivation had no effect on levels of testosterone but did have a negative impact on athletic performance. However, when the athletes took creatine supplements, the decline in skill was prevented and testosterone levels were notably higher.
Similarly, another research tested out creatine on its benefits on athletes. This other one though, used either creatine or creatine plus beta-alanine and measured their effects on strength, power, body composition, and endocrine changes during a 10 week resistance training program.
As the results of the research shows, creatine plus beta-alanine had significant benefits to lean body mass and body fat percentage. Both creatine and creatine plus beta-alanine also showed significantly greater improvements in strength. Lastly, Creatine as a stand-alone supplement has shown to elevate resting levels of testosterone.
The research I’m about to reference now is one where the goal was to determine the effects of creatine supplementation and resistance exercise on hormonal and cardiovascular response. As such, testosterone and cortisol were measured along with cardiovascular parameters such as systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, and heart rate.
The research was conducted by dividing their active male participants into either placebo or creatine groups. Both groups also performed resistance exercises. The results of the research are as follows:
- Creatine group showed significant increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol after 5 and 7 days of creatine supplementation
- No significant changes to cardiovascular parameters for both groups
Judging from these results, Creatine looks capable of increasing testosterone but we already knew this from the previous research. What’s new here is that Creatine also lowers levels of cortisol which is typically elevated after exercise.
No effect on testosterone
Contrary to previous researches, this last one actually reputes the benefits of creatine on exercise related hormones. This research studied the effects of short-term creatine supplementation on the growth hormone, testosterone, and cortisol in response to resistance training.
The participants of the study were to take a placebo or 20 g of Creatine for 5 days and underwent an hour’s worth of standardized heavy resistance training. Blood samples were taken immediately after, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes after each session. The results are the research following:
- Serum growth hormone was not altered (Creatine and placebo groups had similar values)
- No changes in serum testosterone
The researchers concluded their experiment by saying that “short-term creatine supplementation does not alter the responses of growth hormone, testosterone, and cortisol to a single bout of heavy resistance training“.
This isn’t the only research that refutes the potential benefits of Creatine on testosterone though. In this similar research, college-aged rugby players loaded up on either 25 g/day creatine with 25 g/day glucose or placebo (50 g/day glucose) for 7 days. This was then followed by a 14 day maintenance of 5 g/day creatine or placebo.
As the results suggest, creatine did not have any significant effects on testosterone. However, they did find a 56% increase in DHT after the 7-day creating loading period. The rise in DHT also remained to be 40% above baseline after the 14 day maintenance period. DHT, by the way, is a more potent androgen than testosterone except when it comes to developing muscle.
How Do I Take CREATINE?
Based on the researchers I referenced to, the most successful form of Creatine for testosterone seems to be Creatine Monohydrate so you might want to check on that if you decide to buy one. In terms of dosage, around 20-25 g per day seems to be appropriate but this seems to only be applicable during a “loading” period of 5-7 days. After which, a maintenance dose of 5 g per day is being used.
This said, the same way that Creatine is taken as a pre-workout seems to be applicable for boosting testosterone.
The research surrounding Creatine when it comes to boosting testosterone is still in its early stages. Although there are a few studies that don’t support the potential test boosting effects of Creatine, there are also quite a number of ones that do.
The successful researches seem to pair Creatine with anaerobic training like rugby, sprinting, and heavy resistance training. These anaerobic exercises (or sports) have already been associated to a rise in testosterone even without the help of supplements like Creatine.
From there, it could be said that Creatine might not increase testosterone in sedentary men. However, when active men supplement their workouts with Creatine, I personally think that Creatine can potentiate the muscle building, performance gains, and testosterone boosts that come with resistance training.