If you’re taking creatine, you probably know that it helps give your muscles more energy, but you might not know where all this creatine actually is. Where is creatine stored?
95% of the creatine in the body is stored in skeletal muscle, the muscles you use to move around, in the muscle cells themselves. The other 5% is stored in smooth muscle tissue and organs like the brain.
Of course, there’s nuance to each of these things, and it’s more complicated than just saying “stored in muscles”. Below, I’ll tell you all the places where creatine is stored in your body and go more in-depth into each one.
Creatine Is Mostly Stored in Skeletal Muscle
Approximately 95% of the creatine in the body is stored in skeletal muscle. More specifically, within muscle cells. Creatine’s main bodily function is to provide energy when muscles need it, so it makes sense that the majority of it is stored here.
Your skeletal muscle is the muscle that connects all your bones together, and lets you do things like walk, lift weights, or any other movement function.
This is the main type of tissue where creatine is stored, with about 95% of it being stored there.
If you didn’t know, the main source of dietary creatine is meat, like beef, pork, and fish, or the muscles of animals. Once you know this, it makes sense that creatine is stored in our muscles as well.
Creatine is mainly stored here because skeletal muscle takes a large amount of energy to function, and having creatine here and readily available to use is the most efficient place.
If you didn’t know, creatine works by giving your muscles more energy to do work. Your muscle cells turn creatine into ATP, which is what our bodies use as an energy source for many different processes.
Again, because this is the actual role creatine plays, it only makes sense that it’s stored where it’s used.
Sure, creatine has some other important functions in the body, but muscular energy is its main job, so it’s necessary to be stored close to where it’s needed.
Creatine in Smooth Muscle
Less than 5% of the creatine in the body is stored in smooth muscle. Human bodies contain much more skeletal muscle than they do smooth muscle, so naturally, there is less creatine in smooth muscle.
Other than skeletal muscle, you also have something called smooth muscle, which has involuntary movement, like in your cardiovascular system, digestive system, and many other places.
Because this is still a type of muscle, it also stores creatine! However, less creatine is stored here for two different reasons.
Reason one is that you have much less smooth muscle in your body than you do skeletal muscle. This obviously means that more of the creatine that’s in your body is in your skeletal muscle, simply because you have more of it.
Because your smooth muscles usually do routine, planned, and consistent amount of work day-to-day, they don’t keep quite as much creatine in them.
The amount of energy expended by your skeletal muscle each day varies widely by whatever you’re doing that day, so they have larger creatine reserves to fill the energy needs when you are doing more work.
Some Creatine is Stored in the Brain
Small amounts of the creatine in your body is stored in the brain. Creatine has been found to improve brain function and connectivity between neurons.
Recent studies have found that creatine plays an important role in brain function, cognition, and communication between your brain’s neurons.
More than just being important for brain function, these same studies have also found that creatine supplementation can actually improve brain function. This appears to happen mainly through reduced brain fog but also improved brain function all around.
Thankfully, more studies are being conducted as you read this, so there’s more information to come!
Creatine Within Muscle Cells
As I mentioned before, creatine is stored in your muscle cells. Once the creatine has arrived here, whether it’s from your diet, natural production, or supplements, it’s here to stay until it’s used.
You might remember the saying from school; “The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”. This is true, and it applies here too.
When your muscles are in need of more energy, the mitochondria in your muscle cells grab the stored creatine and convert it into ATP, which your cells use for energy.
After this, the creatine is no longer creatine, and it goes through the normal waste process in your cells.
Once Creatine Is Stored, How Long Does It Stay?
Once creatine is stored in your cells, it’ll stay there for a while. It’s dependent on how much you’ve been taking, and what your activity levels are, but you can expect creatine to stick around for a few weeks.
After this amount of time, the amount of creatine in your reserves will start to deplete. If you miss a day or two, don’t worry, just keep taking it as normal.
Again depending on how much you take, about 50% of the creatine in your body is produced by you. This means that even if you do stop taking creatine, or miss a few days, your body will continue to replenish your reserves naturally.
The only exception to this is that sometimes if you’ve been taking a lot of creatine for a long time, it can temporarily lower your natural production of creatine. Because your body has been used to you supplementing creatine, it stops making as much for itself.
In this case, your creatine reserves would diminish quickly, until your body adjusts and can produce it on its own again.
Unfortunately, there haven’t been many studies conducted on this, so more research is needed.