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Ask Levi: Should I Take Creatine?

Creatine has been around longer than I have, but there are still many questions about its use. Today we’ll look at cyclists using creatine…

Hi Levi. Thank you for inspiring people like my self. I being bicycling an average of 150 miles per week. I would like to know if I would benefit from creatine? Please let me know, Thank You. Let me give you some info about myself. 5′-8″ 185 lbs. my goal is to bike an average of 200+ per week and to complete a century race.

Thank you,
Creatine Chris

Hi Chris,

The short answer to your question is no. As a recreational cyclist, looking to complete an endurance event like a century, you won’t have a whole lot of use for creatine supplementation.

You might see some benefits, so maybe you do want to try it out (it’s not expensive,) but you probably won’t see a huge performance in your cycling that could be attributed to creatine use. Here’s why:

Creatine is a natural substance found in your body. It is used to aid your body’s production of ATP, the energy used up during short anaerobic efforts. Examples of situations where you use lots of ATP at a fast rate would be weight lifting and sprinting. That means creatine supplementation can work very well for body builders, and also for Track & Field sprinters, but it doesn’t do much for endurance cyclists (who rely on aerobic energy production.)

Also, creatine isn’t a miracle as some people would have you believe. Some people think they can take creatine and then they’ll get ripped and be super strong. Mainly what it does, though, is allow you to work a little bit harder during your workout due to the increased energy. (But that’s only applicable once you are mentally capable of pushing yourself to extreme intensity, which most beginners aren’t ready for.)

As for building muscle without extra work, it’s true that an abundance of creatine phosphate in the muscles can allow them to store more water. That will make them appear bigger, but the muscle tissue is still the same size. Does that matter to an endurance cyclist? Nope.

Another thing is that your body contains quite a bit of creatine as is. If you eat meat (which naturally contains high levels of creatine,) you probably have enough of it in your body. If you’re a vegetarian, though, you may benefit from supplementing with creatine.

There is one aspect to creatine that you might like, though: faster recovery. The first thing I noticed when beginning creatine was that I recovered from my workouts faster than normal. I had never heard of this affect, but once I looked, I was able to find a study showing improved recovery times.

Unfortunately this improved recovery was only noticeable during my weight training workouts. And once I really began to increase my workout volume (thanks to the creatine,) I needed the improved recovery just to recover at my usual speed!


In the end, there are two main things to consider before making your final decision on creatine:

1. Creatine is considered safe.

While some people have reported minor side effects of less sweating and increased cramping (not good side effects for bike riders!,) it’s a pretty safe supplement. I’ve never had any problems with it.

It’s not like you’re taking steroids or HGH. Or blood doping. So don’t be scared to try creatine.

2. There’s not much value for an endurance athlete.

While creatine is pretty cool, as an endurance cyclist, your money is better spent elsewhere. For example, you’d probably get a more noticeable benefit from something like Endurolytes, especially if you’ll be doing a century in hot weather.

Or spend your creatine money on higher-quality fruits and vegetables. I bet you’d get more value that way.

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2 Comments
  1. I had a professor in college who was a doctor in skeletal muscle and he was very concerned about the effects of long term creatine supplementation on heart-chamber size. its been years since i have spoken with him, have you not heard anything about this topic? which would pose obvious problems to cyclists specifically.

  2. @Dom

    I heard things like that years ago. When my friends on the high school football team were taking creatine, I heard how it was bad for your heart, so I avoided it.

    Today, I see mentions of how creatine can be beneficial for your heart. I can’t quote any of the studies off the top of my head, but I think some studies showed creatine to aid against heart disease and other ailments.

    Here is an interesting page for further reading:
    http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/creatine-000297.htm

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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