Creatine and Brain Fog: Can It Actually Clear Your Mind? - Lucid™

Creatine and Brain Fog: Can It Actually Clear Your Mind?

Written by: Kat Austin

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Time to read 10 min

Brain fog can be an incredibly frustrating experience, often leaving individuals feeling mentally fatigued, forgetful, and unable to focus. While it can stem from a variety of causes, finding effective solutions is crucial for maintaining cognitive health. Many people are reaching to creatine to explore its potential nootropic effects, a stark contrast to its traditional athletic benefits.


We're going to take a deeper look at creatine and brain fog to determine the truth: Can creatine actually help clear your mind? In this article, we delve into the science behind creatine and its potential to alleviate brain fog. Plus, we’ll cover some tips on how to use creatine safely and effectively.

Key Takeaways

Creatine may help reduce brain fog by boosting ATP production, improving neurotransmitter function, and protecting brain cells.

Brain fog can result from stress, poor diet, and lack of sleep. Creatine has shown promise in enhancing cognitive performance under these conditions.

Take 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate daily. Ensure consistency, a balanced diet, and proper hydration to maximize benefits.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in the body, primarily in the muscles and brain. It plays a key role in energy production by replenishing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy carrier in cells. Athletes and bodybuilders commonly use creatine supplements to enhance physical performance, but recent research suggests it may also have cognitive benefits.

Creatine in the Brain

Creatine plays a crucial role in brain health, helping to regulate energy output within the nervous system. Research has found that low brain creatine levels may be associated with a range of mental and cognitive dysfunctions, such as depression or ADHD.


Creatine works by donating a phosphate group to ADP (adenosine diphosphate) to regenerate ATP. This process is crucial during periods of intense mental or physical activity, providing quick energy to sustain performance.


Additionally, creatine is involved in various cellular processes, including DNA synthesis and repair, and acts as a buffer to maintain cellular homeostasis. All in all, creatine is essential to the production and transfer of neurons and plays a critical role in mental health and cognitive function.

What is Brain Fog (& Can Creatine Help?)

Brain fog is not a medical diagnosis but a term used to describe a range of cognitive symptoms, including forgetfulness, lack of focus, confusion, and mental fatigue. It can result from several factors, such as stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, and underlying health conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome or depression. The impact of brain fog can be significant, affecting productivity, mood, and overall quality of life.

Causes of Brain Fog

Causes of brain fog vary by person, but may include factors such as:

  • Stress : Chronic stress can elevate cortisol levels, which may impair cognitive function and contribute to brain fog.

  • Poor Diet: Nutrient deficiencies, especially in vitamins and minerals essential for brain health, can lead to cognitive impairment.

  • Lack of Sleep: Sleep is critical for cognitive function, and insufficient sleep can result in mental fatigue and memory issues.

  • Health conditions: Conditions like thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases, and hormonal imbalances can cause or exacerbate brain fog.

  • Medications : Certain medications may cause memory loss or brain fog, so discuss these side effects with your doctor if you think they may be linked to a particular medication.


So, can creatine, a supplement known to enhance mental energy production, help clear up brain fog and improve cognition? We think so–but let's look at the research:

Creatine and Brain Fog Research

Recent investigations have begun to illuminate the potential role of creatine supplementation in reducing brain fog .


Research suggests that creatine aids in preserving cognitive function during periods of stress and sleep deprivation, both of which are common triggers for brain fog. The studies reveal that individuals who supplemented with creatine demonstrated improved cognitive performance, indicating a possible protective effect against mental fatigue.


Moreover, a systematic review conducted by researchers in Greece delved into the cognitive benefits of creatine supplementation in healthy individuals. This review analyzed several randomized controlled trials to determine how oral creatine affects various cognitive functions. The results showed a marked improvement in short-term memory and intelligence/reasoning skills following creatine supplementation.


However, the effects on other cognitive domains, such as long-term memory, attention, and executive function, were varied. Enhanced performance was primarily observed in older adults and those experiencing stress. These results suggest that while creatine may act as a cognitive enhancer, its benefits might be more significant in certain populations and specific mental tasks.


In addition, a recent study published in Food Science & Nutrition examined the effectiveness and safety of creatine supplementation for treating post-COVID-19 fatigue syndrome, which includes symptoms like body aches, respiratory issues, loss of taste, headaches, and concentration difficulties. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 12 patients received 4 grams of creatine monohydrate daily for six months.


The findings indicated significant improvements in tissue creatine levels and reductions in symptoms such as general fatigue, loss of taste, breathing issues, and cognitive difficulties like trouble concentrating. These results suggest that creatine supplementation could enhance tissue bioenergetics and mitigate symptoms associated with post-COVID-19 fatigue syndrome, highlighting the need for further research with larger participant groups.

Other Scientific Evidence Linking Creatine to Cognitive Function

Several studies have explored the potential cognitive benefits of creatine, with promising results. Research indicates that creatine supplementation can improve memory, enhance cognitive processing, and reduce mental fatigue.


More specifically, research suggests that creatine may provide the following nootropic effects:

Creatine May Boost Working Memory and Intelligence

study at the University of Sydney examined the effects of creatine on 45 young adult vegetarians, who typically have lower levels of creatine due to a lack of red meat in their diet.

  • In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, participants took 5 grams of creatine daily for 6 weeks.

  • Results showed significant improvements in working memory and intelligence, suggesting that creatine plays a key role in brain energy capacity.

It May Increase IQ and Attention Span

study conducted by the University of Sunderland in the UK involved 34 healthy non-vegetarians with a mean age of 21 years.

  • This double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved giving one group 5 grams of creatine daily for 2 weeks, while the other group received a placebo.

  • After 2 weeks, the creatine group showed improved results in memory, attention, and IQ tests, indicating a reduction in mental fatigue and enhanced cognitive function.

Creatine May Repair Brain Cells and Provide Neuroprotective Effects

According to limited evidence , Creatine has the potential to provide protective effects against neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, although further research is needed to confirm these benefits.


Current treatments for these diseases often only offer symptom relief, whereas new research is focusing on therapies that repair or replace injured brain cells. Creatine's role in supporting energy metabolism in the brain makes it a promising candidate for these therapies.

Mechanisms: How Creatine Might Alleviate Brain Fog


Understanding how creatine works can shed light on its potential to combat brain fog. Here are some key mechanisms:


  • Increased ATP Production: Creatine enhances ATP production, providing more energy for brain cells. This increased energy availability can improve cognitive function and reduce feelings of mental fatigue.

  • Enhanced Neurotransmitter Function: Creatine influences the function of neurotransmitters, chemicals responsible for transmitting signals in the brain. Improved neurotransmitter function can enhance mood, memory, and overall cognitive performance.

  • Neuroprotective Effects: Creatine has antioxidant properties that help protect brain cells from oxidative stress and damage. This neuroprotective effect can preserve cognitive function and prevent the deterioration associated with brain fog.


How to Use Creatine for Brain Fog


If you’re considering using creatine to combat brain fog, there are several practical aspects to keep in mind. Here are some things you should consider in order to use creatine safely and effectively:

Recommended Dosages

For cognitive benefits, a common dosage is between 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate per day. This amount has been shown to be effective in various studies without causing significant side effects. 

Creatine nootropic doses are generally smaller than the doses used for athletic enhancements, and many sources agree that they cause less side effects.


Forms of Creatine for Brain Fog

Creatine supplements come in several forms, including creatine monohydrate, creatine HCL, creatine ethyl ester, and buffered creatine. Creatine monohydrate is the most researched and widely used form, known for its effectiveness and safety.


Potential Side Effects

While creatine is generally safe for most people, it can cause side effects such as stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea in some individuals. It's important to stay hydrated and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you have preexisting health conditions.


Some people experience mild and temporary weight gain when taking creatine because it holds water in the muscles. However, this is not usually apparent in those using small doses for nootropic effects.


Additionally, creatine is safe for the liver in healthy adults, but should not be used by those with a liver or kidney condition without a doctor's guidance. Pregnant women may also be able to take creatine safely in moderation, but only with the guidance of their OBGYN.

Tips for Integrating Creatine for Brain Fog


  • Start with a Loading Phase: Begin with a loading phase where you take 20 grams of creatine per day, divided into 4 doses of 5 grams each, for 5-7 days. This helps quickly saturate your muscles with creatine. After the loading phase, switch to a maintenance dose of 5 grams per day to maintain optimal creatine levels.

  • Consistency is Key: Take creatine consistently for the best results. Choose a specific time each day to take your creatine, such as after a workout or with a meal, to help form a routine and ensure you don't miss a dose. Consistency helps maintain elevated creatine levels in your muscles and brain.

  • Combine with a Balanced Diet: Ensure your diet includes a variety of nutrients to support overall brain and muscle health. Incorporate foods rich in protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates, along with fruits and vegetables. Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals, particularly those involved in energy metabolism and brain function (e.g., B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids), will enhance the benefits of creatine supplementation.

  • Stay Hydrated: Both creatine and caffeine can affect your hydration levels. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, which can negatively impact your performance and overall health. Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water daily, and more if you're engaging in intense physical activity.

  • Monitor Caffeine Intake: Be mindful of your caffeine consumption, especially if you're new to it or sensitive to its effects. If you regularly consume caffeine, you may not experience significant diuretic effects. However, if you are new to caffeine, start with smaller amounts to gauge your tolerance and avoid potential side effects like increased urination and dehydration.

  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to the combination of caffeine and creatine. If you experience any adverse effects, such as gastrointestinal discomfort, dehydration, or changes in muscle performance, adjust your intake accordingly. Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide personalized advice based on your specific needs and health status.

  • Consider Timing: To maximize the benefits and minimize potential side effects, consider the timing of your supplementation. Take creatine post-workout for optimal muscle recovery, and consume caffeine before your workout to boost energy and focus. Spacing out these supplements can help manage their differing impacts on your body.


By following these tips, you can effectively integrate creatine and caffeine into your fitness and health regimen, maximizing their benefits while minimizing any potential side effects.


Conclusion: Does Creatine Help Brain Fog?

Creatine holds potential as a supplement for alleviating brain fog and enhancing cognitive function. While more research is needed to fully understand its effects, existing studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that creatine can improve memory, focus, and mental clarity.


If you're considering creatine supplementation, consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it's appropriate for your individual needs. With the right approach, creatine might just be the key to clearing your mind and boosting your cognitive health.





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Resources

  1. “Creatine Supplementation and Brain Health” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916590/

  2. “Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Brain Function and Health” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8912287/

  3. “Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29704637/

  4. “Effects of six-month creatine supplementation on patient- and clinician-reported outcomes, and tissue creatine levels in patients with post-COVID-19 fatigue syndrome” https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fsn3.3597

  5. “Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14561278/

  6. “Cognitive effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19773644/

  7. “A review of creatine supplementation in age-related diseases: more than a supplement for athletes” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4304302/#:~:text=New%20studies%20indicate%20that%20creatine,%2C%20Alzheimer%27s%20disease%2C%20and%20stroke .