(Article medically reviewed by Dr. Zac Hyde M.D)
If you take your trips to the gym even remotely seriously, you’re likely already well aware of what creatine can do for you.
Natural, safe, and well-tested, this unique organic compound has the potential to provide a huge boost to your nervous, muscular, and endocrine system.
But there may be even more to it than that. In this article, we’ll investigate claims that creatine can also raise testosterone as well.
Creatine and Sexual Function
Right off the bat, there is indeed a connection between creatine supplementation and rather significant boosts in testosterone.
As we’re all aware, such increases in our T levels can have a wide range of effects, from improved sexual function to improvements in muscle mass to a reduction in erectile dysfunction symptoms.
But, as with most things related to your health, it’s not quite THAT simple.
You see, you can’t just spoon-feed creatine into your body and expect to become a “boner-fide” sex fiend.
You need to first consider your levels of activity, your overall health, your age, and whether or not you’ve had any problems “south of the border” before you start taking the product.
As always, we’re going to do a deep dive into the science behind this supplement to make sure you have all the information you need to make a healthy choice for your hormones.
Creatine and Athletic Performance
While it’s true that the term “creatine” does sound like a haphazard product you’d market to overzealous gym rats, it’s actually an all-natural substance found in nearly all vertebrate animals.
In fact, it’s not only a key component in our skeletal muscle metabolism, but it helps raise the levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules inside our cells, improving our body’s overall energy output.
In short: during heavy lifting and high-intensity exercises, creatine allows you to achieve more power, more strength, and overall better performance.
The best part of creatine?
It’s the best-researched and most well-supported bodybuilding supplement on the market.
For instance, did you know that creatine has over 70 peer-reviewed, human-based studies showing its ability to increase strength output?
It also has eight studies related to its ability to facilitate cellular hydration, ten studies demonstrating its ability to help create lean muscle, and four showing how it can help decrease fatigue.
Creatine is super affordable. In fact, in its simplest form – creatine monohydrate – is both cheaper and more effective than those high-dollar blends.
So if you’ve been paying too much for some flash printing on the outside of the bottle, you can start cutting your supplement budget right away.
And then there’s the real meat of the discussion: how creatine helps your body maximize testosterone output to make the manliest aspects of you more much more manly.
For that, let’s refer to a bevy of studies into just how this unique supplement does what it does.
Studies on Creatine and Testosterone
As we’ve already stated, creatine does indeed raise your testosterone levels.
However, more than that, it also converts that testosterone into a more bio-available form known as dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
If you’ve been a long-time reader here, you probably already know that this iteration of the hormone is between three and ten times more potent than regular old T.
What does this mean for you?
Let’s take a look:
One 2011 study attempted to identify how creatine would affect people suffering from sleep deprivation. Specifically, would it increase their abilities to complete a variety of motor tasks?
The study used 10 elite rugby players, some taking creatine and some taking a placebo. In the end, it was discovered that creatine (like caffeine) significantly (if temporarily) improved physical skills and, therefore, enhanced performance.
During testing, salivary testosterone levels were also noted to have increased considerably.
A 2009 study – also performed on college-aged rugby players – attempted to clarify the link between testosterone, DHT, and creatine.
It had subjects take supplements at “loading” levels for seven days, followed by a two-week maintenance dose.
Though standard blood serum testosterone didn’t fluctuate much, DHT increased by an average of 56% during the loading phase and remained at a 40% increase through the maintenance phase.
In 2006, a similar study on college athletes was performed, this time over a 10-week long exercise program.
The subjects were divided into three groups: one received a placebo, one received creatine, and one received a blend of beta-alanine (an amino acid that contributes to muscle endurance) and creatine.
The pure creatine group, once again, demonstrated the greatest increases in power output.
In 2003, a comprehensive study of 17 weightlifters encouraged the subjects to purposely overtrain.
Again, there were two groups: those that received a placebo and those that received 0.3 grams of creatine per two pounds of their body weight.
In the end, despite the intense overtraining, those subjects taking creatine displayed much better power output retention than their placebo counterparts as well as higher free and total testosterone levels.
Finally, we have a 2015 study in which twenty men following a string resistance training routine were given either a placebo or four doses of 5g creatine per day.
Over a week, their hormone levels were closely monitored. After that initial period, the creatine group not only had 17% higher T levels, but their cortisol (stress hormone) levels had declined by a nearly identical 13%!
With well over 100 studies under the supplement’s belt, we could go on and on about the benefits of supplementing creatine.
However, by now, you should have a pretty clear understanding of how creatine, testosterone, and – more importantly – DHT relate to one another.
And since DHT is more potent than regular testosterone and more easily utilized by the body, I feel confident in saying that creatine should be on every man’s supplement list.
Understanding How to Take Creatine
I touched briefly on the concept that you can’t just load creatine into your body and expect to enjoy bigger muscles, better boners, and all the energy of a bear.
In fact, even if you are lifting weights regularly (which you should be), you should still follow a cycling routine in order to get the most bang for your buck.
This typically consists of a” loading phase,” during which you’ll take about 20 grams per day for one week.
After this, you can switch to a “maintenance phase,” in which you only take around two to five grams per day for a month.
And since you also want to avoid letting the creatine levels in your kidneys get too high, you should take a break of around one to two weeks before restarting the cycle.
Creatine and Hydration
We mentioned how one of the ways the creatine chemical works is by increasing your cellular hydration.
Well, this also means that your cells are using more water than they normally would, so you need to make sure you’re drinking tons of water during supplementation (especially the loading phase).
Just make sure to pay attention to your body and look for signs that your H20 levels aren’t up to snuff (water retention, dark urine, fatigue, dry mouth, headache).
Fortunately, if you do feel dehydrated, the solution (pun intended) is pretty simple.
Creatine and Testosterone Conclusion:
If you ask me (and a whole bunch of doctors), creatine is one of the most important supplements a man can take.
Whether you’re attempting to build muscle or simply want to keep your testosterone pumping at full volume, a regular cycle of creatine monohydrate is a great investment.
But I need to mention again…
As with most things, if you go overboard, creatine supplementation can backfire on you.
Lowered sex drive and erection issues may pop up if you use it chronically without cycling off and giving your body time to rebalance.
As for me, after I do a cycle of creatine, I take a full two weeks off before cycling on again.
Following this plan, I get the testosterone benefits of creatine, without the sex drive or erection penalties.