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The Latest Uh-Oh for the Vegetarians and Vegans: Creatine

So guess where you get Creatine?

If you’re a gorilla, ape, vegetarian or vegan you might have a problem because it’s not an essential nutrient, as it is manufactured in the human body from L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine BUT, in human animals and other animals, approximately half of stored creatine originates from food (mainly from meat). Since vegetables do not contain creatine, vegetarians show lower levels of muscle creatine, but show the same levels after using supplements (reference).

After supplementation? Well, as I’ve shown for B12, supplementation is not only doable but can be an all natural solution.

So there’s some new research.

The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores

Creatine when combined with P forms phosphocreatine that acts as a reserve of high-energy phosphate. Creatine is found mostly in meat, fish and other animal products, and the levels of muscle creatine are known to be lower in vegetarians. Creatine supplementation influences brain functioning as indicated by imaging studies and the measurement of oxygenated Hb. Given the key role played by creatine in the provision of energy, the influence of its supplementation on cognitive functioning was examined, contrasting the effect in omnivores and vegetarians. Young adult females (n 128) were separated into those who were and were not vegetarian. Randomly and under a double-blind procedure, subjects consumed either a placebo or 20 g of creatine supplement for 5 d. Creatine supplementation did not influence measures of verbal fluency and vigilance. However, in vegetarians rather than in those who consume meat, creatine supplementation resulted in better memory. Irrespective of dietary style, the supplementation of creatine decreased the variability in the responses to a choice reaction-time task. [emphasis added]

Well, you know, I’m just going to be brash about it: eat yer fuckin’ meat, dumbass.

The news was also reported elsewhere.

Creatine, an amino acid-like compound, was first identified in 1832 for its presence in muscle. It has been the subject of about 70 randomized, controlled trials over the last 12 years or so, with the majority investigating creatine’s performance-enhancing benefits. The compound is mostly found in animal products like meat.

The role of creatine in brain functioning has been reported previously, but no data has been presented examining the effect of creatine supplementation in vegetarians, a group with lower muscle levels of creatine.

According to new results published in the British Journal of Nutrition, vegetarians showed improvements in their memory after five days of daily creatine supplements. No such improvements were observed in meat-eating omnivores. […]

Benton and Donohoe recruited 121 young women, both vegetarians and omnivores, and randomly assigned them to receive either a daily placebo, or a daily creatine supplement (creatine monohydrate, 20 grams per day, Isostar Creatine, Wander Limited, UK) for five days.

A battery of cognitive tests were performed by the women, both before and after the five days of study, with results showing that memory improved by about 40 percent in the vegetarians consuming the creatine supplements, compared with placebo.

Furthermore, creatine supplements also reduced the variability of the women’s in the responses to a choice reaction-time task in both vegetarians and omnivores.

Since I’m not The Big Scientist around here, I’d simply want to point out that this should not be in any way surprising.

Big brains have to be demanding, not only in terms of energy, but in terms of its share of the nutrient intake. When a big brained, small gutted human takes on the diet of a pea brained, large gutted primate, results should be quite predictable (hint hint).

…And so ‘d call it a target rich environment for research grants, myself.

And in other news, Angelina Jolie comes to her senses. Veganism almost killed her, says Jolie. i for one, am certainly happy it didn’t.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

39 Comments

  1. Sean on December 13, 2010 at 23:16

    “Creatine is naturally produced in the human body from amino acids primarily in the kidney and liver”

    I’m always amazed at all the shit the liver does. That’s one hard-working organ. The spleen is a total slacker in comparison.

  2. Tony on December 13, 2010 at 23:41

    Bodybuilders advise taking creatine with simple sugars like those found in fruit juices in order to drive creatine into muscle with the help of an insulin spike. Is this true? If so, does this mean that taking creatine will not be as effective in a someone on a low carb diet who wishes to increase performance and muscle hypertrophy while strength training with barbells?

    • rob on December 14, 2010 at 01:09

      I supplement with creatine without combining it with carbs and have gotten good results. Doesn’t result in muscle hypertrophy, what it does is help you recover better between sets.

      I buy the NOW creatine on from Amazon, it’s around $20 for two pounds.



    • Tony on December 14, 2010 at 16:11

      Some reviewers on Amazon claim that the NOW brand of creatine is like drinking sand. Do you find this to be true, and if so, how do you minimize this problem?



    • The Dude on December 14, 2010 at 13:47

      I’ve read the same thing, and I suppose it makes sense. I tried taking Creatine with grape juice however I’ve had excellent results with Creatine Mono and water. If there’s a difference in effectiveness, I didn’t notice.



    • rob on December 14, 2010 at 14:58

      The reason I don’t buy the “take it with carbs” thing is that if you eat 2 pounds of beef you are getting quite a bit of creatine … but supposedly it doesn’t count because you didn’t eat carbs with your two pounds of beef?

      Makes no sense, as a human, like any other animal, there are times when you can eat animal flesh until you are near bursting, other times animal flesh will be hard to come by, if the creatine was only beneficial when you happened to combine a large quantity of animal flesh with some sugar we would probably have evolved to not need creatine, or be extinct.

      If the theory was that you need to combine creatine supplementation with eating some fat, that would make some sense, because generally eating animal flesh involves eating some fat … but eating two pounds of beef and then having to eat a few apples to enjoy the benefit of having eating the animal flesh? Makes no sense.



  3. Jamie on December 14, 2010 at 02:29

    The Latest Uh-Oh for Vegetarians and Vegans: Carnosine

  4. JP on December 14, 2010 at 04:58

    Well, it’s not surprising. Whenever creatine drop low, the efficiency of its enzyme ramp up like crazy. Basic metabolic reaction.

    • JP on December 14, 2010 at 04:59

      *So, if you introduce it back and for a short time, the creatine uptake will be very, very, good.



  5. Paleohund on December 14, 2010 at 05:41

    Another reason we should not hate our misguided veggies and vegans cousins. By their diet, they hate themselves, whether they know it or not.

    • B on June 10, 2017 at 10:50

      Many vegans/vegetarians have done their research and care more about improving the state of the earth, and love the future of humankind so much that they choose to sacrifice or risk their own health, that’s all. Many are intelligent and completely aware that their health can and will plummet, but are totally ok with it as a gift to the earth from their perspective. This can be difficult for many to comprehend who have different goals (e.g. wanting to look more muscular, wanting to be as health as possible). Many don’t care that others consume meat either, they just want to help by balancing out the unnecessary overconsumption.



    • Richard Nikoley on June 11, 2017 at 07:56

      “Improving the state of the earth” is a begging the question fallacy, but I wouldn’t expect the undernourished brain-damaged to understand that.



  6. VW on December 14, 2010 at 05:54

    My HDL plummeted while I was a vegan. (From 80 to 38) Maybe the saturated fat I’m getting will help bring it back up.

    Higher levels of HDL linked to reduced Alzheimer’s risk: http://tinyurl.com/33o2sla

  7. Mike on December 14, 2010 at 09:08

    We’ve had vegans and vegetarians walk through our gym doors, but they either a) quickly convert in an effort to obtain better body comp and athletic performance, or 2) struggle in vain while holding onto misguided beliefs. Eventually, they either adopt “a”, or fade away. I know Robb Wolf refuses to train vegetarians. I like the way he thinks.

    One guy that seems to be a bit of an anomaly is Mac Danzig. Wicked athletic capacity sits around 6-7%BF as an MMA fighter….vegan, nonetheless. I’d honestly like to see what his daily intake is from morning to night.

    And, pretty damn good chance he’s supplementing with creatine. 🙂

    • Live and Let Live on June 24, 2015 at 03:10

      I suppose you are unaware of Robert Cheeke. 🙂



    • . on October 29, 2016 at 08:12

      if mac danzig is supplementing with creatine powder, then that’s not being a vegan. creatine powder is derived from animal product.



    • Kasia on February 8, 2017 at 06:37

      He is vegan. And creatine vegan powder exist. Creatine is made of amino acids and all the amino acids are available in a plant based diet.



  8. Jared on December 15, 2010 at 18:44

    Let me start by saying I am not a vegan or vegetarian by any means, but this study is pretty meaningless for harm done by vegetarianism.

    I got the full text: http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=/BJN/S0007114510004733a.pdf&code=3b4ed1d22694833b892e95a86818a91c

    It might be meaningful if the omnivores had better memory performance without creatine, but they don’t. Basically the vegetarians do much better on the memory with creatine. That’s it. The omnivores did worse. No benefit to meat eating is contained within.

    Regardless of the results, this study looks to me like they probably tried cutting the groups all kinds of ways male/female, young/old, etc. to get statistically significant results, and the only division that did it was vegetarian/omnivore. My instinct is that the whole thing is a fluke anyway and won’t be repeatable.

  9. 12/16/10 – Back Squat + Row on December 15, 2010 at 19:02

    […] The Latest Uh Oh for Vegetarians and Vegans: Creatine – Free The Animal […]

  10. […] how they have to actually spell out what offal is to their B12 and Creatine deficient sycophants. What a bunch of opportunistic and shameless liars who ignore the natural selection that […]

  11. VeganSmashYou on May 29, 2011 at 22:41

    It’s funny how you wanna-be cavemen keep having to bash plant-based diets in order to make your own lame-o speculative BS diet seem viable. It’s also funny that you failed to interpret the study properly, in that it showed that the vegetarians OUT-PERFORMED the omnimorons (haha just made that up) following the supplementation. Maybe you just couldn’t comprehend the study data, let alone the summary? awwww. You all seem to be ignorant of the fact that many top-performing athletes are vegan. It’s silly to post them all and do your google work for you, but just to name a few: Carl Lewis, Dave Scott, Scott Jurek. They all own the crap out of your calf-liver eatin’ ass. So keep fooling yourselves, cavemen. Enjoy all that Vitamin-A toxicity too from your absurd raw liver blender crap. bahaha. ooga-booga.

    • David Csonka on May 31, 2011 at 16:39

      Consider me impressed when a vegan wins the CrossFit Games.



    • Kim on May 31, 2011 at 17:57

      Of course, vegans NEVER bash meateaters do they? I’m guessing you plant munching, brain-starved vegans need to be defensive when loads of studies keep coming out proving just how nutritionally deficient your diet is. Fact is, the above referenced finding didn’t say what you think it said at all. That’s why Richard in his wisdom emphasized the last statement. He rightly predicted that a dumbass vegan would misinterpret the results. Properly understood, the veg women were so deficient in creatine that their performance improved by 40% w/supplementation. The omni women didn’t experience improvement because they were not deficient. FURTHERMORE, the “variability” (this means the difference in performance between the 2 groups) narrowed significantly. So let me spell this out for you and all the other cognitively challenged vegans: Creatine supplementation in veg women allowed them to catch up to the already superior omni women.



    • Live and Let Live on June 24, 2015 at 03:08

      Why can’t people just get along? Why do meat eaters worry so much about what Vegans eat, when you actually eat a lot of vegan food anyway? Think about it for a second, okay? Why do some Vegans worry about what meat eaters eat? I’m a vegan and to be perfectly honest, I like to worry about ME, not everyone else on the planet. But, also as a Vegan, I graduated egregia cum laude from Medical School, obtaining both an MD and a PhD, my cognitive skills are above average. My son, also a vegan surpasses his peers in a multitude of areas. More people succeed with intellect and education than they do with physical prowess. Though, we could take a look at Robert Cheeke (Vegan professional body builder with many titles under his, well.. speedo.) I’m sure not a single one of you on this board is a professional athlete by any measure. Besides, when someone needs surgery, they look to the surgeon, not the person who can power-lift something so heavy they lose control of their rectum.. So, moving on..

      Both ways of eating have their ups and downs, however the eating of cooked meat does have connections with cancer due to HCAs and PAHs. This can be avoided by cooking meat slowly at low temperatures, however, how many people actually do that? Most people like to fry and grill their meat.

      Being omnivorous does not make a person superior by any measure, and neither does being a Vegan.

      But, I will tell you what does make a person rather inferior.. A severely crappy and argumentative attitude.

      Cheers.

      Note: I say “meat-eaters” and “Some vegans” for a reason. Not all vegans have an issue with what other people eat. The ones that do tend to be either very young, or poorly educated about what it really means to be a Vegan, one of those thing is NOT becoming the “Food Police” However, every meat-consuming person I’ve met does one of two things.. They either want to try it, jump in without knowing what they are doing, have problems and blame the diet instead of their ignorance, or they look at you like you have three heads, assume you’re going to attack them, put you down, or talk about all the meat they eat and the latest deer they shot, etc.

      For many people, being vegan is a choice based on ones personal ethics, there are many religious groups that are also vegan. I am vegan not only based on ethical reasons, but also “religious” ones as well. It’s all about compassion, and if you are a vegan and you believe in compassion, that compassion should not be limited to non-humans, but should include your fellow human, even if you don’t agree with what they chose to put on their dinner plates.

      So, just stop attacking each other and find a common ground instead of concentrating so much on opposing eating choices.



    • Roma Ramashka Ilin on March 21, 2016 at 06:53

      i kept reading and reading, and the more i read the more sad i became feeling alone with the thirst for knowledge to back up my decisions to practice compassion as i did. and all i saw here was bashing and shaming.
      great points, thank you for your insights and power.

      -fallow Vegan from environmental and ethical reasons.



  12. Evan Beach on May 31, 2011 at 16:55

    I wonder if vegans taste good?

  13. JD Moyer on May 31, 2011 at 18:12

    People are not what they eat. The vegan/paleo bickering bullshit needs to stop — it makes everyone look bad. Both groups generally care about 1) whole foods 2) humane treatment of animals 3) environmental conservation 4) human health. Of course there are differences and disagreements — work it out with name calling and personal attacks. When people eating S.A.D. are exploring different ways of eating and read the kind of shit above it just turns them off. We are not a bunch of crazy people (with some exceptions) — we are people who care about food and health (BOTH groups).

    If you find yourself getting defensive about what you eat, and why, you need to take a step back.

    • Kertus on January 1, 2015 at 04:47

      Amen



  14. JD Moyer on May 31, 2011 at 18:14

    I meant *without* name calling and personal attacks.

  15. Kim on June 1, 2011 at 08:50

    You’re in the wrong place, dude.

  16. Vegan chap on April 14, 2015 at 02:51

    I just read the study he referred to about the creatine improving the memory of vegetarians. It seems he was biased in taking information from the article.

    The memory of vegetarians was initially no better or worse than non-vegetarians. However after taking creatine the vegetarians had better memory than the non-vegetarians.

    THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS READ THE ARTICLE YOURSELF.

  17. George LFC on July 17, 2015 at 15:46

    i don’t mind reading articles going against being vegan but if you are going to write something at least put all the facts on there and not just write what you want to hear. First of you only get creatine from eating raw meat and you need to eat pounds of it in one sitting to get the right amount, hence the reason a body builder will supplement the stuff. These study’s are not done in a control group and there are many factors that infelaunce a study.

  18. Thalassa on January 15, 2016 at 03:12

    Boy what a load of crap…the vegetarians actually also out performed the omnivores after taking creatine. A more recent study in 2013 also showed vegetarians and omnivores having about equal levels of brain creatine. While creatine can help with cognitive function, I think you completely misinterpreted or twisted the study to try to defend your unsustainable eating habits. I think the vegan up there is wrong in her assertion it’s no one else’s business what anyone else eats. ..to the contrary, meat eating is out of control and the number one threat to environmental devastation. Veganism is not a religion.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 15, 2016 at 08:12

      ” I think you completely misinterpreted or twisted the study to try to defend your unsustainable eating habits.”

      And I think you’re a stupid cunt.

      So there you go.

      Dismissed.



  19. Paul on May 2, 2016 at 04:47

    Hm… I’m halfway with my paper on facts and myths of muscle building and now I’m all lost having read all your comments here :-/ I’m also writing on ways different substances, nutrients, etc. influence one’s performance in the gym and I also refer to creatine. So what I just wanted to share with you guys is that I came across this article and I find it a very solid and reliable source as for what exactly is creatine and what it does:
    https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/creatine-monohydrate
    Best to all of you, guys!

    • . on November 21, 2016 at 15:24

      after a steak or chicken or bacon is cooked on a skillet on the stove, would the fat that comes out of the meat contain creatine?



  20. Brenda Friesen on June 11, 2017 at 13:17

    Interesting findings of centarians and their secrets to longevity, one being avoidance of overconsumption of protein, particularly red meat … oh, and having a positive attitude 😉

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