If you're an endurance athlete chances are you stay away from that well known bodybuilding supplement creatine - but you may be making a mistake!
The International Society of Sports Nutrition found that creatine plays a role in restoring cell health after endurance performance. It can also improve anaerobic power which could be beneficial for runners, swimmers, cyclists, and the like when it’s time to sprint finish.
In spite of this, most coaches and athletes don’t consider there to be much benefit in taking creatine for overall endurance performance. Regardless, newer research is starting to suggest otherwise.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine acts as a very rapid, but limited source of energy for very high intensity muscle contractions. Your body converts creatine into creatine-phosphate, which then replenishes training-depleted adenosine triphosphate (ATP) -- your muscle cell’s most basic source of energy.
This is to say that the more creatine-phosphate you have in your body, the more immediate energy your cells can produce during high intensity activity.
To date most research has focused on its ability to increase strength and power performance. Regardless, data is trickling out to suggest the following additional benefits to you, if you’re training for endurance.
1. Creatine can increase your lactate threshold
A 2003 study found that elite rowers who took creatine experienced an increase in lactate threshold. The lactate threshold is the exercise intensity that you can maintain for a long period of time without fatiguing.”.
2. Taking creatine can help you maintain a faster pace
A few research studies (like this one) have shown that taking creatine can lower your demand for oxygen at a certain exercise intensity. This could be because your body uses more of your creatine-phosphate system and less of your aerobic system. Ultimately - although not thoroughly tested yet - this could up your pace a bit on your run/cycle.
3. Taking creatine can increase muscle glycogen stores
Another research finding is that creatine increases muscle glycogen stores by about 18% when taken over time. For athletes working up to longer glycogen depleting distances in their endurance training, this could be a good little performance boost, and may even reduce recovery time.
The creatine side effect you need to now about
One possible reason to avoid creatine is it’s impact on body weight. Using it can increase your boy weight by over 3lb which could theoretically slow you down. In practice this is hard to quantify, and the only real way to find out is…. You guessed it - try it!
Other benefits of creatine you probably don’t know
The research on creatine is progressing every day. Newer research is focused on additional performance enhancing effects such as cognitive function, alertness and a reduced injury risk.
Add in HMB to supercharge your creatine
HMB is a naturally produced amino acid that is used to build, maintain, and repair muscles. Multiple studies have shown HMB to enhance endurance performance, and this is likely due to it protecting your muscles from damage so you need less recovery time.
When it comes to endurance, taking HMB has been shown to enhance endurance performance in runners, cyclists and rowers. What’s more it works independently to creatine, meaning combining the two (if you are okay with the additional muscle weight), could be an excellent supplement choice for an array of endurance sports.
Keep in mind
While creatine can increase power output and has been found to lead to quicker muscle adaptation to training, creatine does add body water weight. This can be good for strength athletes, but can inhibit athletes working on body weight movements, speed or endurance.