Hold On… Creatine is for Lifting Weights!
Not so fast, Kemosahbee! Creatine is not just for improving strength. It does many things in addition to being renowned for robust strength enhancement.
First of all, everything has a base in strength. Running, swimming, and especially obstacle course racing has a strength component. There are varying degrees of this truth, so let’s picture a few examples.
A runner must be strong enough to stand before they can be a good runner because they need to be able to support their body weight. That’s a “low” base.
Conversely, an NFL lineman needs to be able to bench press 315 pounds because the opponent is often 315+ pounds (and can bench press just as much themselves!). That’s a “high” base. Obviously, strength changes over time, and this affects endurance.
Another example. Most young men begin bench pressing in high school. To start off, it’s fairly difficult to press 95 pounds (a 25lb plate on each side) for 10 reps. But we keep training the bench press (some of us, each and every time we go to the gym!), and eventually, 95 pounds for 10 reps is too easy to even be considered a strength workout. In fact, many guys could do it for 50 or more reps – that’s endurance work!
The point for an endurance athlete is, simply, if you can get stronger, every other movement gets easier, and you can do it for longer and with greater ease.
This may all be a moot point, though. Creatine has direct implications for many components of endurance performance, such as oxygen consumption.
How Creatine Works
Creatine supplementation increases muscle creatine stores. Muscle creatine is able to bind to phosphagen and form creatine phosphate. If you know much about biochemistry and metabolism, you know that phosphates are pretty important for athletes!
Everyone should have at least a vague memory of ATP, which is adenosine triphosphate – the main source of cellular energy. It’s the main source due in no small part to having three phosphates (or more specifically, the bonds), as well as having those bonds be broken easily enough as well as being a stable molecule.
After 1 bond is broken to release energy, ATP becomes ADP (diphosphate), which can be used once again to become AMP (monophosphate). Creatine phosphate is able to store more available phosphate within the cell, and it can then donate those phosphates to ADP and AMP to help restore energy.
In practical terms, this means more energy for physical activity.
This helps all types of athletes. However, it is best known for helping strength athletes because they almost exclusively use only the available ATP in the cell, whereas endurance athletes need all 3 major energy systems to fuel their activity.
Therefore, endurance athletes are still benefitted when using creatine, it’s just not as noticeable since our needs are so diverse by comparison and creatine became popular for strength.
How Creatine can Benefit Endurance Athletes
Just because something is popular for 1 major reason, doesn’t mean there is nothing else to offer.
Using another high school analogy, the most popular girls and boys are usually the most attractive. Maybe they’re also really good athletes – that’s not inconceivable, happens all the time. Maybe they’re also really smart. Maybe they’re also very charitable or a skilled musician.
Another student might look at one of the popular kids and say, “wow, they’re sooo good looking! And fast, too!” They have no idea that person has more to offer.
This is a true story. I played basketball in high school. I was very familiar with how my teammates played - I knew them well within the context of playing basketball. A few years ago, one of them worked on a song with Kanye West. I had NO idea whatsoever that he made music – I didn’t even know, for a fact, that he even listened to music. He had a lot more to offer than what I knew of him on the court.
Creatine has more to offer as well. Let’s be willing to view it outside its traditional context.
First up is one of the hallmark attributes of endurance, ventilatory threshold. In a study comparing creatine vs. placebo during standardized training vs. a non-training control, placebo improved ventilatory threshold (although not reaching statistical significance), and creatine caused an improvment to an even greater magnitude.
What about straight up endurance?
In trained athletes, creatine supplementation has been observed to improve cycling race times by 4 minutes. This is accompanied by more efficient exercise metabolism, such as maintaining power output at a lower percentage of maximum heart rate.
Creatine also improves anaerobic abilities, such as sprinting.
How Much Creatine Do I Need?
The standard dose is 5 grams per day. However, beneficial effects have been observed with as little as 2.5g per day.
5 grams is often associated with body weight gain as body water. Importantly, this is NOT body fat. Please do not confuse this FACT.
While water, even “extra” water, can be beneficial for endurance athletes, we understand this may not always be desirable. Supplementing with ~3 grams per day can provide most of the benefits of creatine while also limiting weight gained.
There are some advantages to better hydration, however. Typically, an athlete can lose up to 2% of body weight during an event due to fluid loss. Creatine may increase body weight (as water) by approximately 5%. Now, instead of losing just 2%, an athlete may be able to lose 7% before performance is negatively affected and simultaneously decreasing complexities of fluid intake during an event.
Should I Cycle Creatine?
Once upon a time, it was believed that creatine needed to be cycled, as it was feared that creatine supplementation would shut down endogenous creatine production.
This has since been found not to be the case. Hence, creatine does not need to be cycled.
Should I Load Creatine? How Should I Take Creatine?
Creatine also does not need to be loaded. However it can start working faster if it is loaded. There are many loading protocols that are effective.
The standard practice of taking 5g per day every day will maximize muscle creatine after ~4 weeks. Since creatine doesn’t need to be cycled, this is typically sufficient.
To load creatine faster, you simply take more to start off before beginning a maintenance schedule.
One tried-and-true method is to take 20g per day for 4 days, then the maintenance dose of 3-5g thereafter. Another is to take 10g per day for 2 weeks followed by the maintenance schedule.
Finally, it is possible to load creatine in a single day by taking advantage of kinetics. Instead of taking large quantities, take 1g of creatine every hour for 20 hours, followed by the maintenance dose.
What is the Best Kind of Creatine?
Creatine monohydrate. It’s not fancy. It’s not sexy. It works.
There are about a dozen other kinds, but none are absorbed as well as monohydrate. No others provide any other type of added benefit. For the best effects, you go with the original.
Creatine Elite uses nothing but creatine monohydrate. It’s unflavored, so you can add it to any beverage of your choice. We recommended adding it to RecoverElite post-workout, as creatine is absorbed best after training. Being unflavored, it has no additives.
Creatine Elite is 100% pure creatine monohydrate.
Creatine is Good for Endurance Athletes
Don’t let preconceptions lead you astray. Creatine can enhance your endurance performance. If you’re one who is very concerned about water storage, you can easily use a half dose to mitigate the effect. Creatine Elite is 100% pure, high-quality creatine monohydrate – The #1 Creatine Supplement for Endurance Athletes.
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