Is Creatine Good for Runners?

Are you considering taking Creatine as a runner? Then you have come to the right place.

Running eats up a lot of energy, especially if you do endurance training.

Sure, diet is the way to go to get your fuel needs, but to go the extra mile—both literally and figuratively—you might consider supplementing your road miles energy needs.

Fortunately, you can find many supplements in the market that can help boost your performance. One of the most widely used ones is creatine.

This article will explain what creatine is, how it functions,  the benefits of use for your runs, how to incorporate it into your life, and so much more.

I know it’s a lot to cover, so let’s jump right in!

What is Creatine?

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular supplements that has good history compared to other sports supplements. The stuff has been studied for over two centuries and is one of the most scientifically backed supplements on the market.

So what is it?

In essence, Creatine is the naturally occurring amino acid that your body stores in your muscles and brain to use. It’s formed by two amino acids, arginine, and glycine.

The human body produces roughly a gram a day, and we get another from our diet. You can also supplement with creatine. It’s one of the most popular supplements in the fitness market.

But why should you care? What does creatine do, exactly?

How Does Creatine work

To wrap your head around how creatine functions, you should know a little bit about how your cells produce energy.

All of your body cells rely on ATP for energy. This is referred to as “the energy currency” your cells use to do their functions.

Whenever one of your muscle fibers contracts, nerve cells activate, or whatever, your ATP provides the needed to perform the activity. Without it, nothing happens.

Creatine is essentially an energy source. Its main function is to improve energy production in cells. Your muscle cell uses Creatine to produce creatine phosphate, which is a high-energy compound used to rapidly synthesize ATP;

The more creatine in your muscles, the harder and longer you should be able to perform high-intensity exercises, such as sprinting or lifting heavy.

Sure, there comes the point where your creatine tanks become “too full,” and your body can’t hold anymore. I’ll explain the dosage later, so don’t worry.

The Goal of Supplementing With Creatine

 Roughly 90 percent of your body’s Creatine is stowed in your muscles in the form of a molecule known as creatine phosphate. Creatine phosphate helps you replenish ATP, providing your muscle cell with the ability to make more energy.

On average, a 150 pounds male can store up to 120 grams of the stuff.

Creatine supplementation aims to load up creatine tanks that offer your body more high-intensity and ready-to-use fuel. This increase in fuel stores can lead to improved training adaptations.

It’s Not Steroids

And before you stop reading, no, Creatine has nothing to do with steroids.

Creatine functions as a store of the cells’ energy currency phosphate. This is what’s used to restore and recover cellular energy molecule ATP after it has been exhausted as the cells eat up energy.

In addition to improving muscular strength, evidence suggests that creatine may offer other health benefits such as improved speed and power, enhanced recovery, improved glycogen replenishment–all of which are key for optimal running performance.

The benefits for Runners

Let’s delve a little deeper into the many benefits creatine offers.

Improved Athletic Performance

Research has shown that creatine supplementation can lead to a 7.5 percent increase in performance – This means being able to run harder, faster, and with less fatigue.

Another research that looked into the impact of Creatine on cycling performance during low and high-intensity training reported that it only enhanced high-intensity performance.

In other words, Creatine may offer more benefits for short duration exercise—think sprints—than endurance training—think long run.

Reduced Muscle Loss

Research has shown that Creatine can help reduce the intensity of muscular dystrophy, one of the side effects of aging. As we get older, we inevitably lose muscle mass.

Fortunately, taking creatine has been reported to help older people maintain and gain muscle mass.

The best gains were obtained when the participants also performed strength training exercises and actively used their muscles.

Improved Recovery Time

Recovery is as important as the training itself. When you recover faster, you’re likely to start your next run sooner or train at a higher intensity.

Creatine may help your recovery by limiting cell damage post-run which assists your muscles in recovering faster.

Don’t take my word for it. Research that looked into the impact of Creatine on inflammatory and muscle soreness s after a 30km run.

Eighteen subjects were given 20 grams of supplements for five days with 60 grams of maltodextrin during the experiment.

The other group was only provided with maltodextrin.

In the end, a group I showed reduced cell damage than the other group. This may serve as solid evidence that creating can help reduce cell damage after exercise.

Improved Bone Healing

Research conducted at Cell Biology in Switzerland found a strong link between the use of Creatine and bone healing.

The researchers reported that Creatine drastically improved the activity of a marker known as Alkaline Phosphate (ALP). This plays a major role in aiding bone growth and recovery.

Because cell energy is important to bone formation and recovery, creatine improves cell energy, therefore, aids in bone development.

The Different Types Of Creatine

Creatine can take many forms. All in all, there are four main types.

  • Creatine Monohydrate 

    The most common and cost-effective supplemental creatine used by athletes. The formula is made by bonding creatine to a water molecule. It’s also the most widely researched form of creating (and the main focus of today’s article).

  • Creatine Ethyl Ester 

    In this formula, creatine is bound to ester salts, which is believed to make the creatine more bioavailable. This, in turn, make it the most beneficial for muscle building.

  • Buffered creatine 

    also known as Kre-alkalyn creatine, this type is considered the quickest absorbing type of creatine, thanks to optimum pH level. The formula is created by adding an alkaline powder to the creatine, resulting in a buffered form.

  • Liquid creatine 

    As the name implies, creatine is packed in a liquid, ready-to-drink form instead of a powder. Liquid creatine has been promoted as being more convenient and quickly absorbed in the body.

 

Which Creatine Works The Best For Runners?

You can find many creatine products on the market, some of which are promoted with strong claims that are yet to be supported by science. So tread carefully.

Research has shown that the powder form of creatine monohydrate works the best to improve power and speed. The powder form is much more effective than liquid, pills, or any other types of creatine products.

Depending on your current levels and training load, these supplements may boost your muscle creatine reserves by 10 to 40 percent.

Already have low stores? That’s when you’re going to see more drastic improvements.

Loading Vs. Maintenance

There are usually two phases in creatine supplementation: loading and maintenance.

During the loading period, you take in a relatively large dose of creatine in a short period to quickly saturate your muscles. More specifically, this phase involves consuming roughly 20 grams of creatine per day—usually in four servings, 5 grams each, for five to seven days.

Why would you do this? Well, research has found that the loading phase can drastically increase creatine stores by 10 to 40 percent.

During the load-up days, I’d recommend splitting your intake into four servings throughout the day.

A simple loading protocol will look like this:

7 a.m. – Breakfast with 5-gram dose.

12.30 p.m. – Lunch with 5-gram dose.

4 p.m. – Evening snack with 5-gram dose.

8 p.m. – Dinner with 5-gram dose.

Following the loading phase, you can preserve your creatine stores by consuming a lower dose of between 2 to 10 grams per day.

The Tips You Need

To make the most out of creating, you’ll want to know much and how often you should take for your body and lifestyle.

The following tips should get you started on the right foot.

Start Small

It’s not a good idea to stuff yourself up early on as you don’t know how your body will react to the Creatine.

That’s why, as a rule, start with no more than 5 grams at a time. Increase the dose once you feel ready.

Go For Powder

As I previously mentioned, the powder form of creatine is the most efficient.

So although other forms exist, such as liquid and pills, you might find it easier to regulate your dosage when you take it through the powdered form.

What’s more?

You can also mix it up with whatever drinks you want, without a weird aftertaste to it.

When To Take Creatine

Research papers proofing the best time to take creatine are still mixed.

But, all in all, most of the research suggests that taking creatine just before a workout works best. This allows it to get properly used to provide the needed fuel burn when you need it most.

What’s more?

You can also replenish your stores by taking another serving shortly post-run.

Just keep in mind that Creatine lingers in your bloodstream for about 60 to 90 minutes on average.

Decided to take Creatine? Then take it before a run. Since creatine remains in the bloodstream for about an hour and a half, aim to take it immediately before running for optimum results.

Is Creatine Safe?

I don’t have a definite answer as it depends on your physiology and medical history.

But all in all, Creatine is considered one of the safest performance-enhancing supplements out there, especially for long-term usage.

According to my own experience, taking a 5-g serving of creatine once per day shouldn’t cause any problems.

How?

There are many claims that Creatine usage may cause liver damage or heart problems. But there’s no evidence that such issues have been linked to creatine supplementation.

At best, the evidence remains anecdotal. Some of the reported issues include:

  • Hydration
  • Kidney damage
  • Stomach problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Etc.

Of course, don’t take my word for it.

The use of creatine has been studied for years. One meta-study conducted by the International Society of Sports Nutrition that analyzed over 500 studies on creatine usage concluded that:

There is no scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects on otherwise healthy individuals.