There are many reasons people choose to pursue a vegetarian diet. The major problem with eating this way is that getting the nutrients your body needs to be healthy and perform optimally, especially those that are not found in large quantities in animal free foods can be tricky and time consuming. This is why creatine supplementation for vegetarians is a great idea, even if you aren’t a bodybuilder!
In this article, you too will learn all the benefits creatine offers vegetarians along with why creatine has a greater impact on non-meat eaters than those who eat meat!
Vegetarians Have Difficulties Replenishing Their Creatine Stores
Creatine is made from three amino acids: l-arginine, l-glycine and L-methionine. While l-arginine and l-glycine are manufactured in the body, l-methionine is not. To get these three amino acids without eating meat or fish requires food combining. However, as simple as this may seem, the quantities necessary to meet daily requirements is too demanding. Supplementing with creatine monohydrate therefore, is the best way to get an animal free source.
Also, keep in mind, whenever you cook your food, creatine naturally degrades so then you get even less than you think. Some of the creatine you get from food will degrade into a waste product called creatinine. About 50% of the creatine in your body comes from food, and being a vegetarian means you’ll struggle to get enough as there are only trace amounts found in plants. Replenishing it with a creatine supplements is the best way to get enough to keep your body strong and your mind focused.
Supplementing Increases Creatine In Vegetarians Red Blood Cells
Supplementing with creatine is found, after a 5 day loading phase, to be increased in red blood cells and plasma of vegetarians. Lower levels of creatine in red blood cells means there is less available energy for your major muscles, including the brain, eyes, and muscles. Creatine is the energy reserve for all these major muscles.
The main effect of low creatine stores is less fuel for your muscles and brain which can make it difficult to build muscle, get stronger, and function your best mentally. However, after supplementing researchers find increased levels in the red blood cells of vegetarians. Red blood cells deliver creatine to your skeletal muscle and other tissues requiring this source of energy! Therefore increasing the amount of creatine in your red blood cells means more stored energy for your brain and muscles!
Creatine Helps Fuel Your Brain
Creatine is used by your brain for fuel. Researchers find significant benefits on intelligence tests when vegetarians supplement with creatine. In one study vegetarians took 5 grams of creatine per day or a placebo supplement for a 6 week period. They then took intelligence and memory tests. The vegetarians supplementing with creatine recalled 8.5 numbers versus 7 for those not supplementing.
According to Dr. Rae, the lead researcher “The results were clear with both our experimental groups and in both test scenarios: creatine supplementation gave a significant measurable boost to brain power.” She also states that “These findings underline a dynamic and significant role of brain energy capacity in influencing brain performance. Increasing the energy available for computation increases the power of the brain and this is reflected directly in improved general ability.”
Most of us think of athletes who want larger muscles and improved physical performance when we think of creatine loading. However, your brain and eyes are also organs that use creatine to increase energy stores and meet their overall energy needs.
Creatine Helps Vegetarians Build Muscle And Get Stronger
Vegetarians also can improve their overall physical strength and lean body mass by taking creatine. Since vegetarians have lower levels of creatine than meat eaters, research shows there is huge increase in physical performance, stamina, recovery and lean muscle mass after supplementation.
In one study, a group of 18 vegetarians supplementing with creatine monohydrate for an 8 week period performed tests in various strength training exercises. Their strength was tested using bench and leg press exercises. According to the researchers, supplementation increased their blood levels of creatine and the subjects showed signs of “changes in lean tissue mass and exercise performance.”
Vegan Creatine Supplements
One vegan creatine supplement I recommend is Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine. Each serving has 5 grams of creatine monohydrate. It mixes completely in water and stays dissolved which makes it easy to drink. Since it’s flavorless, you can drink it in water or add it to your favorite vegan protein shake, almond or coconut milk.
This writer was a vegan for two years, and so holds a special place in my heart for those on this journey. I am no longer a vegan, as my life has changed along with my dietary needs. However, health and fitness for all is our mission. Now you know why if you are a vegetarian that supplementing with creatine monohydrate is a great way to keep your mind alert and your body strong!
Brosnan JT, Brosnan ME. Creatine: endogenous metabolite, dietary, and therapeutic supplement. Annu Rev Nutr. 2007;27:241-61.
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.
Caroline Rae, Alison L. Digney, Salley R. McEwan, & Timothy C. Bates. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. Oct. 22, 2003, volume 270, page 2147-2150, 2003.
Maccormick VM, Hill LM, Macneil L, Burke DG, Smith-Palmer T. Elevation of creatine in red blood cells in vegetarians and nonvegetarians after creatine supplementation. Can J Appl Physiol. 2004 Dec;29(6):704-13.