How Creatine Benefits Endurance Athletes

Creatine is an essential supplement for endurance athletes. I know, this flies in the face of what many experts and coaches say. 

That’s okay with me. I just want to know if it works or not for distance runners, triathletes, swimmers, and endurance sports in general. 

After reading through dozens of studies and articles I came to the conclusion that creatine definitely benefits endurance athletes. 

In this article I tell you how it can help you. I also answer the most frequently asked questions when it comes to creatine and endurance sports.

Ready to learn how creatine monohydrate can benefit your runs, rides, hikes, and swims? Awesome. Let’s get started. 

How Creatine Benefits Performance In Endurance Sports

Listed below are 5 key ways it benefits all of us who want to push our fitness, especially our mental and physical endurance. Click on each link for the more detailed explanation of each benefit. 

  • Creatine makes you stronger. As much as 10% more in 1-2 weeks. As you know, the stronger you are, the faster and farther you’ll run. 
  • Creatine helps power your brain when you’re fatigued. This means you will stay focused instead of quitting due to mental exhaustion.
  • Creatine boosts your strength endurance. So you have the ability to kick your intensity up a notch when you need to sprint past your competition. 
  • Creatine users suffer less cramps and injuries. Especially when it’s hot.
  • Creatine helps if you’re injured. So you don’t waste away so you can come back stronger. 
  • Creatine helps your muscles store more glycogen. This means more stored energy is available for you during a long workout or race. 
creatine benefits woman runner
Creatine Helps You Run Faster, Longer

Creatine Makes You Stronger

Getting stronger doing calisthenics, lifting weights, or whatever other resistance training method you prefer will make you a much better runner. 

When you get stronger you quickly notice that normally tough runs become easier. You’ll have more kick at the end of a run. You’ll also recover faster between workouts. Injuries should occur less often too.

Now you know why you should be squatting, lunging, and bench pressing on at least 2 times a week. 

When you take creatine and lift weights, you’ll get even stronger. In much less time. 

Creatine Helps Boosts Brain Power When You’re Exhausted

So there you are. You’re in the middle of a long run and are losing your focus or in the middle of a hill sprint workout and can’t remember if you’ve done 3 or 13 sprints. 

Supplementing with creatine can help reduce the mental fatigue that you feel doing hard, leg and lung burning runs, rides, and workouts. 

This means you may be able to focus on what matters during training, doing what it takes to win! It can also help your memory and ability to concentrate on the task at hand so you don’t make any mistakes that can keep you from doing your best.

Creatine Boosts Strength-Endurance

While it may not directly affect your endurance via your heart and lungs, creatine does improve the endurance of your muscles. What I mean by this is that creatine doesn’t change the amount of oxygen your heart and lungs can process, giving you more endurance.

What creatine does is give your muscles more energy for intense exercise. This means they can do more reps, laps, throws, etc. before they’re fatigued.

Being able to fend off fatigue this way means that you can workout and compete at a higher intensity level too. Now you can sprint to the finish line faster, without bonking at the end.

The way helps is by decreasing the amount of lactate in your blood when your pushing hard during your workout. 

What typically happens is that as you exercise, levels of lactate in your blood increase. While this isn’t an altogether bad thing, it can hurt your performance. 

By decreasing lactate levels creatine helps you keep powering on at the same, or higher intensity levels. 

man cyclist creatine benefits

Creatine Decreases Your Risk Of Injury And Getting Cramps

Here’s another, far less known reason endurance athletes should take creatine.

Research finds that athletes who take creatine monohydrate incur fewer injuries in training and competition. This was found among college athletes training for their sport in the summer heat. 

Athletes who’ve loaded their muscles with creatine also report that they experience fewer cramps and heat related issues. My wife, who trains hard every day (running 6 miles plus weights) used to get muscle cramps that were brutal and temporarily disabling.

Since she’s been taking creatine, the cramps haven’t been occuring. 

I know it’s only one person but combined with the research and it’s other benefits, I think it makes creatine worth trying if you get workout related cramps. 

If You Do Get Injured Creatine Still Helps

All of us get hurt at some point. We all know how much it sucks to lose lots of muscle and strength when we’re laid up.

Taking creatine when you’re injured helps prevent this loss of muscle mass and strength. This means once you get back to training and your sport it isn’t as if you’re starting from scratch.

Here’s what Robert Child, PhD, a biochemist who’s worked with several Tour de France bike teams, has to say about this benefit as it relates to endurance athletes.

“Creatine turns on myogenic growth factors in the muscle helping reduce muscle loss during periods of inactivity,”

Creatine Helps Your Muscles Store More Glycogen

Imagine being able to store more glycogen, the stored form of the carbohydrates you eat. 

When you can do this, you’re giving your body more energy for your body to use as fuel during workouts. More energy means more fuel to go harder, longer. 

You normally have to train even more or do things like carb loading which can leave you bloated and slower instead of better and faster.

Now you know 5 really powerful ways creatine can benefit you and your performance in endurance focused workouts or sports. 

In the next section, I’ll answer questions I’m often asked about creatine and endurance sports performance. 

Creatine Supplementation Frequently Asked Questions

Doesn’t Taking Creatine Make Me Gain Weight?

Sure, taking creatine can lead to 3-5 pounds of extra body weight. Especially when you are lifting weights too. 

If you gain extra weight after taking creatine, don’t panic. It’s almost definitely additional muscle. This is an awesome thing! More muscle means that you will be stronger, perform better, and be less likely to be injured. 

Some of the weight you gain will be extra water too. This doesn’t mean you’ll be extra bulky and bloated. It only indicates that your muscles are storing a little more water, in equal amounts inside and outside of your muscles.

Given all of the benefits mentioned in this article, I don’t think there’s any reason to worry about adding a few pounds of extra muscle. 

Does It Work For Men And Women?

Yes, studies show that creatine can help guys and ladies build muscle, get stronger, lose fat, and go harder, longer. 

The only thing to be aware of is that it may take a little longer for women to notice a difference after they supplement with creatine. Don’t despair, if you’re training hard and taking it properly, you’ll see results within 30 days. 

Which Creatine Supplement Is Best For Me?

When choosing a creatine supplement you want it to meet 3 requirements. 

creatine monohydrate powder

The first requirement is that the supplement you buy only uses pure, creatine monohydrate powder. Liquid creatine, creatine HCL, and creatine ethyl ester, and all the other types don’t work nearly as well, if at all (link). Nothing is better than plain creatine monohydrate powder.

Second, your creatine should also be made in the USA in a GMP certified facility. This ensures that your supplement doesn’t contain any impurities and only has what’s on its label.

One supplement that meets these criteria is Creatine Edge. It’s our in-house formulation that my wife and I take every day. It’s helped us both build muscle, get stronger, and train harder. 

Last but not least, the only ingredient on the label should be creatine monohydrate. Don’t waste your money on supplements that claim to have added ingredients to make it even more powerful. 

They really don’t. All you’re getting is a supplement loaded with sugar and a sprinkling of other ingredients like caffeine or BCAAs that aren’t going to be very helpful in this case.

Every can of Creatine Edge contains 500 grams of pure creatine monohydrate. This is  enough to last 2 or more months.

Learn more about it here.

What’s The Best Way To Take Creatine?

According to the latest research, my own experiences, and the testimonies of thousands, if not millions of other athletes around the world there is definitely a best way to take creatine.

It’s called creatine loading and is a very simple and convenient way to quickly ‘fill’ your muscles. This takes about 5 days. Once this is done, you’ll start seeing benefits. 

So, how do you load your muscles? Take 20 grams of creatine monohydrate in water a day. A single serving of creatine is 5 grams. This way, you can get your daily dose in 2-4 equally divided drinks throughout the day.

Once your muscles are loaded, you can cut back to a single serving (5 grams) a day. This is enough to keep your muscles filled up and the benefits coming. 

Is Creatine Safe?

As long as you’re otherwise healthy and take it as recommended it appears to be very safe. Several studies have been performed regarding its safety and they all come back with the same conclusion. 

Creatine is not harmful, even when it’s taken for years at a time. As I mentioned above, it can actually help prevent injuries and cramps from happening when you’re training hard.

Sources

Engelhardt M, Neumann G, Berbalk A, Reuter I. Creatine supplementation in endurance sports. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Jul;30(7):1123-9. 

Fernández-Landa J, Fernández-Lázaro D, Calleja-González J, Caballero-García A, Córdova Martínez A, León-Guereño P, Mielgo-Ayuso J. Effect of Ten Weeks of Creatine Monohydrate Plus HMB Supplementation on Athletic Performance Tests in Elite Male Endurance Athletes. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 10;12(1):193. 

Mills S, Candow DG, Forbes SC, Neary JP, Ormsbee MJ, Antonio J. Effects of Creatine Supplementation during Resistance Training Sessions in Physically Active Young Adults. Nutrients. 2020;12(6):1880. 

Oliver JM, Joubert DP, Martin SE, Crouse SF. Oral creatine supplementation’s decrease of blood lactate during exhaustive, incremental cycling. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2013 Jun;23(3):252-8. 

Tomcik KA, Camera DM, Bone JL, Ross ML, Jeacocke NA, Tachtsis B, Senden J, VAN Loon LJC, Hawley JA, Burke LM. Effects of Creatine and Carbohydrate Loading on Cycling Time Trial Performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018 Jan;50(1):141-150.

van Loon LJ, Murphy R, Oosterlaar AM, Cameron-Smith D, Hargreaves M, Wagenmakers AJ, Snow R. Creatine supplementation increases glycogen storage but not GLUT-4 expression in human skeletal muscle. Clin Sci (Lond). 2004 Jan;106(1):99-106. 

van Loon LJ, Oosterlaar AM, Hartgens F, Hesselink MK, Snow RJ, Wagenmakers AJ. Effects of creatine loading and prolonged creatine supplementation on body composition, fuel selection, sprint and endurance performance in humans. Clin Sci (Lond). 2003 Feb;104(2):153-62. 

Posted on