Creatine Monohydrate For Cycling – UPDATED 2021 – A Complete Guide
If your a dedicated cyclist, most likely you have heard of creatine monohydrate and creatine supplements. Although often used by bodybuilders, they have proven to be beneficial to some forms of cyclists.
Knowing this, what type of cyclist can they benefit and can you use creatine monohydrate for cycling or mountain bike racing?
Continue reading to find out more about the benefits and disadvantages of using creatine Monohydrate for cycling.
Creatine Monohydrate For Cycling – A Complete Guide
Creatine Monohydrate first made headlines during the Barcelona Olympics, where track and field athletes started testing it.
The year after Barcelona, supplements flooded the market and since then has become one of the most used supplements in the world.
So what makes Creatine Monohydrate so popular?
The main reason is the exercise performance it provides. Some of these performance benefits include:
– Increased Strength
– Increased Muscle Mass
– Increase in Power
– Improved Speed & Energy
The effects have been well documented and studied over the years, making it one of the most popular sports supplements on the market.
However, there are a few different forms available. These include Creatine anhydrous (100% pure creatine) and Creatine monohydrate (90% Creatine)
Creatine (creatine phosphate) is one of many naturally occurring forms of energy production in our body, which provides us with quick bursts of energy and speed.
Once scientists realized this, supplements were in production, and athletes started to hear more about the benefits. That provided more data for sports scientists, and studies found when athletes increased the amount in the body by 20% or more, maximum efforts (5-15 seconds) improved, and time to exhaustion and power increased.
Those findings showed that the supplement was beneficial to any athlete that required short bursts of speed or power.
What About Creatine For Cycling Endurance?
Unfortunately for the endurance cyclist, you don’t see the same benefits cross over. Mainly due to the weight increase a person experiences during supplementation. Thus affecting climbing ability and often promoting cramps from the excess of fluid in the muscles.
While the use of additional supplements has proven to improve power over a single maximal sprint effort, the same doesn’t happen for a maximum sprint after a long ride.
That means cyclists that require a short burst of power (i.e. track sprinters) will benefit the most from using creatine.
However, a recent study by the Australian Catholic University and Australian Institute of Sport found some benefits between carbohydrate loading and creatine supplementation.
They found that creatine supplementation could increase the storage of carbohydrates within the muscle, which is believed to be caused by the increase in muscle cell volume.
While the 120km time trial group didn’t see any performance gains from carbo-loading and supplementation in the early stages of the ride, they did find that during the final 1km and 4km efforts of the ride, their average power increased.
They also found that during the simulated climbing test, the riders gained weight as expected, but surprisingly it didn’t affect their ability on the climb. So this could suggest that creatine supplementation didn’t hinder climbing performance under 8 minutes.
So what does this mean for the road cyclist?
Knowing supplementation can benefit top-end power, it can be beneficial to a road sprinter or criterium racer that races over flat or undulating terrain.
Unfortunately, if you are riding events where the climbs last longer than 10 minutes, the weight gain ( 1-6 pounds) will cancel out any benefit in power.
Best Legal Supplements For Cycling Performance – UPDATED 2021
Even though using Creatine Monohydrate for cycling performance has some downsides. It is still one of the best legal supplements for cycling performance, especially in track racing. However, there are other supplements that can help you perform better. These include:
– Whey Protein
– Nitrate (found in Beetroot Juice)
Caffeine is the best on this list. Used by many endurance athletes, caffeine helps the body’s ability to use fat as an energy source and reduces time to exhaustion.
Other supplements like Nitrate have made the headlines recently. Research has shown that drinking beetroot juice can help improve endurance and reduce oxygen cost during submaximal exercise.
However, it is vital to check WADA’s banned list before taking any supplement that claims to be the best legal supplement for cycling performance.
Creatine For Mountain Biking – What You Should Know?
While we already know that using creatine won’t provide the road cyclist with improved endurance, what about using creatine for mountain biking?
Unfortunately, since mountain biking involves various climbing lengths, the excess weight gain will ultimately affect your performance on the bike.
However, if you are racing short track or eliminator (sprint XC), it can improve sprint power, which could benefit the mountain biker that targets these events rather than XCO events.
But you do need to be careful of cramping. Many users of creatine have experienced cramps while on the bike. So make sure you first test the dosage in training before racing.
Creatine Monohydrate – How Long To Take?
If you do decide to take creatine Monohydrate, How long should you take it? And what should the daily dosage be?
The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends taking 5 grams of creatine monohydrate 3-4 times each day as a guideline.
However, you can calculate a more accurate dosage by multiplying your weight (kilograms) by 0.3.
For example, a cyclist weighing 75kg would take a daily dose of 22.5 grams during the loading period. Though, according to other research, a daily dose of 3 grams might also be enough to saturate your muscles and provide the same benefit.
Either way, once your muscles become saturated (usually after 15-30 days), you should start to lower the dose. Research shows taking between 2-10 grams per day during this phase will help retain the high levels of creatine in the muscles.
Remember, once you stop supplementing, the level of creatine in the muscles will slowly decline, and the performance gained will ultimately be lost.