Looking to improve running performance? One of the supplements you might be considering is creatine – and for good reason.
Creatine is one of the most widely used, science-backed supplements in sports, with numerous studies supporting its performance-enhancing benefits.
It’s also one of the cheapest sports supplements on the market!
But is creatine good for runners?
It’s a question worth asking, as it’s no secret that creatine is most popular among weightlifters and bodybuilders.
The fact is creatine can benefit runners, too.
Still, it’s important to supplement creatine correctly to make the most of its benefits, and this guide will tell you how.
What Is Creatine?
For those of you who are new to creatine, creatine is, in fact, naturally produced in the body (by the liver). Creatine phosphate produces adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP – a compound that supports muscle energy.
Put simply, with more ATP to draw from, the muscles have more energy and are less likely to become easily fatigued when put under stress, i.e. resistance-based exercise.
But although creatine is naturally produced, it can also be consumed in food as well as supplements – creatine monohydrate being the most popular.
Creatine is therefore a natural performance-enhancing supplement. It is used to maintain higher, “topped up” levels of ATP that promote increased strength and stamina.
The Benefits Of Creatine
Now that you know what creatine is and what it does, what are the tangible, proven benefits of taking creatine?
Studies and users of creatine claim that it can:
- Increase energy
- Increase strength
- Increase stamina and endurance
- Improved weight loss
- Promote muscle growth
- Support muscle recovery
Some of the benefits of creatine—such as improved strength, improved muscle growth, and improved weight loss—are secondary benefits largely due to how creatine increases muscle energy reserves.
Users of creatine claim that it helps them lift heavier weights and/or increase reps and sets, which, as a result, leads to a natural increase in strength and lean muscle growth.
The same applies to those who use creatine to support cardiovascular exercise, resulting in faster, more effective weight loss.
The Side Effects Of Creatine
Like most supplements—or even most medication, for that matter—there are always a few drawbacks.
Creatine is no different, although it’s worth noting that most side effects, or physical disadvantages, of creatine are non-serious and rare if creatine is taken as recommended.
The side effects of creatine include:
- Stomach discomfort
- Weight gain (temporary)
One of the most common worries of taking creatine is weight gain. However, this is due to a temporary increase in water weight—occurring while creatine is supplemented—as creatine is absorbed in the muscles.
Another common worry is male pattern balding, although this is largely unproven!
Is Creatine Good For Runners?
With the advantages and disadvantages of creatine out the way, is creatine good for runners?
The simple answer is yes, creatine can benefit runners as much as other athletes – including weightlifters and bodybuilders.
Creatine is a natural compound that aids in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), another compound that supports muscles through the storage, and transfer, of energy in muscle cells.
Due to this, taking creatine regularly to maintain a higher reserve of ATP can help runners to increase their stamina and endurance. In other words: run faster and for longer.
Athletes around the world use creatine to increase energy levels and improve physical performance, and pro runners and sprinters are no exception!
When Is The Best Time To Take Creatine?
One of the most widely debated topics around creatine is the time it should be taken to maximize its effectiveness.
What many don’t realize, however, is that creatine is a maintenance supplement, setting it apart from other popular fitness supplements (such as whey protein).
This means that there is no hard rule for when you should take creatine. Supplementing creatine is done to maintain ATP levels, so it’s more a matter of taking it regularly as opposed to, for example, before or after physical activity.
For this reason, taking creatine should generally be done once a day when it is most convenient, then continued at the same time.
How Much Creatine Should You Take?
What’s just as important as when and how often you take creatine is how much creatine you take. Taking more creatine than recommended can lead to negative side effects (listed above) or a surplus of creatine that your body simply fails to utilize.
In general, creatine is supplemented at no more than 5 grams per day – a recommended dosage that you’ll find labeled on most branded creatine supplements.
For powdered creatine supplements, the scoop provided in the packaging will be appropriately sized so that one scoop provides this recommended amount. The same applies to creatine capsules (with one or two capsules providing up to 5 grams).
Still, it’s worth checking the label of any creatine supplement to make sure you’re supplementing the right amount.
What Foods Are High In Creatine?
Supplements are for supplementing, after all, and not everyone wants to take supplements – which is nothing to frown at!
And if you’d prefer to increase creatine through food sources, it’s worth knowing which foods are high in creatine.
Creatine-rich foods include:
- Chicken breast
- Beef patties
- Black pudding
- Milk and cheese
- Seeds, nuts, almonds, beans, peas
Needless to say, most high-creatine foods are found in meat sources. Vegetarians and vegans are not out of luck, however, as creatine is also found in plant-based proteins, including dairy products, seeds, nuts, and legumes.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s also possible to purchase vegan-friendly creatine supplements.
Creatine is a natural compound produced in the body to aid muscle energy, supplemented to maintain energy levels and enhance physical performance. While popular among weightlifters and bodybuilders, runners can also benefit from creatine.
This is simply due to how creatine maintains energy (ATP) stores and helps transfer energy to muscle cells. This energy increase can improve strength, stamina, and endurance, and therefore benefit muscle growth and cardiovascular fitness in runners.