Creatine as a Nootropic: How It Affects Cognitive Function and Mental Health - Lucid™

Creatine as a Nootropic: How It Affects Cognitive Function and Mental Health

Written by: Kat Austin



Time to read 9 min

Creatine, often synonymous with bodybuilding and muscle growth, is now gaining traction for another research-backed benefit: its nootropic effects.

While traditionally used to enhance physical performance, recent studies reveal that creatine also offers cognitive benefits, making it a versatile supplement for anyone seeking a mental edge.

Let's take a deep dive into the research available to support the use of creatine as a nootropic, and then we'll take a look at different supplements and how they can be used to best support brain power.

Key Takeaways

Cognitive Benefits: Creatine enhances cognitive functions such as memory, intelligence, and attention span.

Neuroprotective Effects: Limited evidence suggests that creatine may offer protection against neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's by supporting brain energy metabolism.

Mental Health Impact: Creatine has shown potential in improving symptoms of depression and possibly reducing anxiety, although more research is needed to fully understand its effects on mental health.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in foods like meat and fish. Small amounts are synthesized by the body, but many people choose to supplement with creatine to reap a range of benefits, like increased muscle strength and improved cognitive function.

Creatine is well-known for its role in the ATP-CP pathway, providing energy to cells, particularly during high-intensity activities. This energy-boosting characteristic has made creatine a staple for athletes, but its cognitive potential is now drawing significant attention.

Mechanism of Action

Creatine’s primary role in the body is to aid in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of cells. In the brain, this means enhanced energy availability, which supports various cognitive functions. The increased energy supply can help improve mental stamina, memory, and overall cognitive performance.

Cognitive Benefits of Creatine According to Research

Boosting Working Memory and Intelligence

A study at the University of Sydney found that young adult vegetarians who took 5 grams of creatine daily for six weeks showed significant improvements in working memory and intelligence. This suggests that creatine enhances brain energy capacity, crucial for cognitive tasks.

Enhancing IQ and Attention Span

Research by the University of Sunderland in the UK involved 34 healthy non-vegetarians who took 5 grams of creatine daily for two weeks. The creatine group showed improved results in memory, attention, and IQ tests, indicating reduced mental fatigue and enhanced cognitive function.

Neuroprotective Effects

Limited evidence suggests that creatine may offer protective effects against neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Creatine supports brain energy metabolism, which could play a role in repairing or replacing injured brain cells, making it a promising candidate for neuroprotective therapies.

Creatine and Mental Health Benefits According to Research

Creatine and Depression

Does creatine change your mood if you have depression? Some research suggests it might. An 8-week study with 39 women found that those taking creatine and the antidepressant Lexapro saw significant improvements. 

At two weeks, the creatine group experienced a 32% improvement in symptoms compared to 3.7% in the placebo group. By four weeks, these rates rose to 68% and 29%, respectively.

While evidence is limited, creatine could play a role in future treatments for depression by increasing brain energy metabolism and improving brain function. However, it is not recommended for individuals with psychosis or schizophrenia, as it may affect dopamine levels and worsen symptoms.

Creatine and Anxiety

Does creatine change your mood regarding anxiety? The answer is unclear. Some studies suggest creatine might reduce anxiety, while others find no significant effects. More research is needed. Additionally, dehydration caused by creatine could potentially increase anxiety symptoms due to reduced blood flow and oxygen delivery to brain cells.

Creatine and ADHD

Emerging research suggests creatine might impact ADHD symptoms, which are linked to brain energy deficits. Since creatine enhances brain energy metabolism, it could help manage ADHD symptoms by improving cognitive functions like attention and focus.

Some anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies indicate creatine supplementation might benefit individuals with ADHD by increasing attention span and reducing hyperactivity. However, more clinical trials are needed to confirm these effects. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, especially for managing ADHD or other mental health conditions.

Addressing Common Concerns about Creatine

While creatine is widely recognized for its role in muscle building, there are some concerns that might make people hesitant to use it, especially for cognitive purposes. Let's address these concerns and provide clarity on how creatine can be safely and effectively used for brain health.

Isn’t Creatine Only for Bodybuilders?

Nope! It’s a common misconception that creatine is only a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders. This is mostly due to its well-documented benefits in enhancing muscle mass and performance.

However, creatine's benefits extend far beyond muscle building. Creatine is crucial for ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production, which provides energy for numerous cellular processes.

This includes cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and mental energy. Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can enhance cognitive performance, making it a valuable supplement for anyone looking to boost brainpower, not just athletes.

Does Creatine Cause Excessive Weight Gain?

One of the most common concerns about creatine is that it causes significant weight gain. This worry primarily stems from creatine's ability to cause water retention in muscles, which can lead to a temporary increase in weight.

However, this effect is usually minimal and more noticeable at the higher doses typically used by athletes.

For cognitive enhancement, creatine is taken in much smaller doses (often around 2-5 grams per day), which are unlikely to cause significant water retention or weight gain. Thus, those using creatine for its nootropic benefits can enjoy its cognitive advantages without worrying about excessive weight gain.

Is Creatine Safe (and Safe for the Liver?)

Safety is a major concern when considering any supplement, and creatine is no exception. Fortunately, creatine is one of the most extensively researched supplements with a strong safety profile. Numerous studies have demonstrated that creatine is safe for most people when used at recommended dosages, even over long periods.

There is also some misinformation circulating that suggests that creatine may harm the liver. However, creatine is not known to cause any harm to the liver in healthy adults. You should not take creatine if you have a liver or kidney condition.

As with any supplement, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional before starting creatine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or take other medications.

How to Use Creatine for Nootropic Benefits

Dosage and Safety of Creatine for Nootropic Use

For cognitive benefits, a typical dosage of creatine ranges from 2-5 grams per day. Studies suggest that even smaller doses, such as 1-3 grams per day, can improve memory and cognitive performance without causing significant water retention or other side effects. Potential side effects are usually mild and can be mitigated by staying hydrated and following recommended dosages.

Types of Creatine for Cognitive Function

  • Creatine Monohydrate: The most well-studied form, known for its efficacy and affordability.

  • Creatine Ethyl Ester: Offers better solubility and quicker absorption, but with limited evidence of superiority over monohydrate.

  • Creatine Hydrochloride (HCL): Requires smaller doses due to higher solubility, potentially reducing stomach upset.

  • Buffered Creatine (Kre-Alkalyn): Claims to improve absorption and reduce bloating, though evidence is limited.

Creatine monohydrate remains the most recommended form due to its proven track record and cost-effectiveness.

Stacking Creatine with Other Nootropics

Combining creatine with other nootropics can enhance its cognitive benefits. Some effective combinations include:

  • Creatine and Choline Sources: Choline-based nootropics like Alpha-GPC can enhance acetylcholine production, improving memory and cognitive function.

  • Creatine and Caffeine: Combining creatine and caffeine boosts alertness and provides sustained cognitive performance without the crash.

  • Creatine and Adaptogens: Adaptogens like Cordyceps and Turkey Tail mushrooms reduce stress and mental fatigue, enhancing creatine’s effects

  • Creatine and L-Theanine: L-Theanine provides calming effects, reducing anxiety and improving focus when paired with creatine.

How to Include Creatine

  • Morning: Add a scoop of creatine to your morning beverage to start your day with a mental boost. This is the best option for those looking for a daytime boost, who regularly exerts physical energy during the day, and want to reap daytime cognition benefits.

  • Pre-Workout: Taking creatine before exercise can enhance both physical and mental performance. Most people see good results from taking creatine about 30 minutes before exercise, which will also result in long-term cognitive benefits.

  • Afternoon: If you experience an afternoon slump, take creatine with lunch to maintain energy levels. However, it is possible that creatine may disrupt sleep, so try to take your creatine dose at least 3 hours before bed.

Lifestyle Factors Affecting Creatine

There are a few lifestyle factors to consider when designing a creatine dosing routine, including:

  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water to minimize side effects and support creatine’s function.

  • Balanced Diet: A diet rich in complex carbohydrates can enhance creatine absorption.

  • Adequate Sleep: Ensure sufficient rest to optimize cognitive benefits.

  • Moderate Caffeine: Limit caffeine intake to avoid counteracting creatine’s effects.


Creatine is no longer just for bodybuilders; it has emerged as a powerful nootropic with benefits extending to cognitive function and mental health. By improving memory, focus, and mental energy, creatine offers a versatile tool for enhancing brain performance. Incorporating creatine into your daily routine, alongside other nootropics, can unlock a sharper, more focused mind.

Looking for an easy way to jumpstart your nootropic journey?

Meet Lucid™—a one-of-a-kind beverage that blends medicinal mushrooms with powerful nootropics like creatine, alpha-GPC, and L-theanine. Whether you're sipping coffee, chai, or matcha, Lucid™ offers a delicious way to fuel your day with focus and clarity.

It's more than just a drink—it's your key to unlocking a sharper mind that carries you to the day’s end without the crash associated with traditional energy drinks.

Check out our Coffee, Matcha, or Chai varieties, or read about the Lucid Nootropic Stack to learn more.

Lucid beverages contain a blend of brain-boosting nootropics + powerful mushrooms designed to unlock your brain's full potential so you can zone in on what's important. 

Ready to become lucid?  Check out our starter kit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do creatine nootropics work?

Creatine nootropics work by boosting ATP levels, the primary energy source for cells, including brain cells. This extra energy can improve cognitive functions like memory, focus, and mental stamina.

2. Does creatine cause weight gain?

Creatine may cause a slight increase in weight due to water retention, typically 2-4 pounds for traditional doses. This effect is usually minimal or nonexistent with nootropic doses, which are lower than those used in bodybuilding.

3. Are there any side effects to taking creatine?

Potential side effects are generally mild and can include bloating, cramping, or gastrointestinal discomfort. These are far less likely at the low doses used for nootropic effects, and drinking plenty of water can help prevent them. Creatine is considered safe when used as directed.

4. Can you take creatine every day?

Yes, creatine can be taken daily. Consistency is key to maintaining its benefits. The typical dosage for nootropic use is 2-5 grams per day, but always follow product guidelines and consult a healthcare professional if needed.

5. How long does it take creatine to work?

Creatine's effects on cognitive function can be noticed within a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the dosage and individual response.


  1. “A review of creatine supplementation in age-related diseases: more than a supplement for athletes”,%2C%20Alzheimer%27s%20disease%2C%20and%20stroke .

  2. “Cognitive effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation”

  3. “Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial”

  4. “A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial of Oral Creatine Monohydrate Augmentation for Enhanced Response to a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor in Women With Major Depressive Disorder”