Although predominantly thought of as an aid to explosive power that can improve performances in relatively short-duration, high-intensity activities, there is growing research to show benefits in the use of creatine for endurance athletes.
Although it can be found in natural food sources such as lean meat and fish it is removed when cooked so creatine supplements help boost intake to increase energy to the muscles, improve strength and increase intensity and duration of endurance training by hydrating cells. Some people however may be non-responsive to creatine either due to their body’s tolerance to absorbing the supplement or the individual may already produce high levels of it naturally making extra creatine supplementation unnecessary
creatine for endurance athletes?
Sports scientists at the Graduate Institute of Nutritional Sciences and Education in Taiwan found that creatine supplementation reduces damage caused by endurance exertion to muscle fibres and that endurance athletes who use creatine recovered faster from their training efforts. They came to this conclusion after a study with 12 well-trained male students. The students took 12 g creatine every day for 15 days and ran before and just after the supplementation period for 60 minutes at 65-70 percent of their maximal heart rate. The researchers then repeated the procedure on another occasion, but gave the students a placebo. Before, during and after the session the researchers analysed the students’ urine and blood. They discovered that creatine supplementation kept the concentration of 3-methylhistidine [3MH] and urea nitrogen [UUN] , indicators of muscle breakdown, low.
In another study, researchers at Kingston University in Surrey and the University of Tasmania in Australia looked at the effects of creatine for endurance athletes. Kkayakers in this case, all with a high level of fitness. All 16 took part in an initial workout which consisted of three work intervals which were completed on a kayak ergometer and which lasted for a duration of 90, 150, and 300 seconds. The athletes completed each interval at the highest-possible intensity and recovered completely (heart rate back to resting level) between intervals.
The subjects were then randomly assigned to either a ‘creatine group’ or a placebo group. Creatine-group members took four five-gram doses of creatine monohydrate per day for a total of five days, while placebo-group athletes ingested four five-gram supplements of glucose daily. After five days, both the creatine and glucose athletes repeated the three-interval, max-intensity workout.
There followed a four-week ‘washout period’, during which the subjects took neither the creatine nor the glucose supplements. Research has shown that four weeks is long enough to bring an elevated muscle creatine-phosphate concentration back to ‘normal’. Following the four-week washout, all subjects participated in the three-interval workout yet again. Following this re-test, the previous placebo subjects ingested creatine for five days (4 x 5 grams per day) while the former creatine athletes took the glucose placebo (this is what’s called a ‘crossover’ design). After five days, the athletes tried the three-interval session one last time.
Creatine increased the quality of the athletes’ efforts during the three-interval workouts. During the 90-second interval, the kayakers completed about 16 per cent more work when they had supplemented with creatine, compared to taking the placebo or being in the control condition (at the beginning of the study and after the washout period). During the 150-second interval, the athletes completed 14 per cent more work with creatine, and for the five-minute (300-second) interval the creatine subjects hit 7 per cent more work. Blood-lactate levels were also higher for creatine athletes after the 150- and 300-second intervals, compared to control and placebo subjects. However, this was not a bad thing; it merely reflects the fact that the creatine-supplemented athletes were able to work at a higher intensity (and thus develop a bit more lactate).
In another study based on triathletes, englbart and Nueman found that the fall in blood glucose during the exercise test was significantly reduced after consumption of creatine.
Bottom line is that there does seem to be some benefit to the use of creatine for endurance athletes but beware of weight gain.
Best way to find out for sure, Try some for yourself.